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The Shah and the Baha'is

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William Cassady

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May 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/7/96
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The following is a study on Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha, & Nasiru'd-Din Shah.

AN OBJECT-LESSON FOR THE WORLD

The Baha'is often speak of how Baha'u'llah fortold the downfall of all the
rulers who so much as overlooked the epistles which he sent to them. The
sole exception to this curse was Queen Victoria, who still did not even
care to make the slightest query or investigation into the claims of
Baha'u'llah.

Perhaps the most extreme example of a ruler adverse to Baha'u'llah was
Nasiru'd-Din Shah, who had persecuted the Babis and Baha'is throughout his
reign, who had the Bab himself executed, who had been nearly assassinated
by two Babis, who had Baha'u'llah exiled and imprisoned, and who had the
messenger Badi (who carried Baha'u'llah's epistle to the shah) tortured to
death without doing so much as reviewing the document.

The point was not that this shah was any worse than most shahs of history.
Worse examples of Iranian leaders can be recounted from throughout history
books. The Baha'i objection to this shah was his mistreatment of the
Baha'is themselves.

Shah Abbas blinded two of his sons and had the eldest put to death. Shah
Husayn, who abandoned the affairs of his country for his palace and harem,
watched his subjects in the Capital stoop to cannibalism under an Afghan
blockade. Nadir Shah overtaxed the people and allowed his army to loot the
land before he was murdered by his own bodyguard. Agha Shah put out the
eyes of 20,000 innocent citizens of Kerman, and was assassinated only one
year into his reign [1]. Muzaffaru'l-Din Shah was an invalid [2] who
neglected and bankrupted his country. Muhammad 'Ali Shah was "perhaps the
most perverted, cowardly, and vice-ridden monster that had disgraced the
throne of Persia in many years" [3].

Not only was Nasiru'd-Din's reign long, it was characterized as a period of
relative economic reform. He "was greatly impressed by European progress".
He wrote "a simple, colourful, and sometimes rather ingenious account" of
his travels in Europe. During his reign, the first Persian newspaper and
university were founded, maritime trade through the Persian Gulf increased
five-fold in 20 years, telegraph lines were constructed throughout the
country, the famous Cossack Division was founded, and extensive amounts of
royal lands were distributed into private hands, including those of nomadic
tribes and peasant farmers [4].

THE BAHA'IS AND THE SHAH

The reign of Nasiri'd-Din Shah commenced with unprecedented persecution of
the Babis.

"For the first time in the Faith's history a systematic campaign in which
the civil and ecclesiastical powers were banded together was being launched
against it, a campaign that was to culminate in the horrors experienced by
Baha'u'llah in the Siyah-Chal of Tihran and His subsequent banishment to
'Iraq ... In remote and isolated centers the scattered disciples of a
persecuted community were pitilessly struck down by the sword of their
foes, while in centers where large numbers had congregated measures were
taken in self-defense, which ... served in their turn to inflame still
further the hostility of the authorities, ..." [5]

It was not long until Bab himself was put to death, which led two Babis to
an attempt on the life of the shah. Previous to this attempted
assassination, the shah had done little more than open the floodgates of a
nationwide hatred toward these heretics. Now that two Babis had tried to
kill him, he had every motive for a personal vendetta against Babism. The
young shah was now doubtlessly in full support of these persecutions, which
intensified yet further.

"The reign of terror which ensued was revolting beyond description. The
spirit of revenge that animated those who had unleashed its horrors seemed
insatiable." [6]

At this point, Baha'u'llah had already shown an ill opinion of the shah in
one of his earliest tablets, Lawh-i-Maryam, wherein the shah is pronounced
"the Tyrant of Persia." [7]

Years later, in the summer of 1869 [8], the shah received an epistle from
Baha'u'llah in the hands of the seventeen-year old Badi. The shah
committed the ultimate offense of "killing the messenger."

"... the illustrious Badi' ... surnamed the "Pride of Martyrs"; ... was
arrested, branded for three successive days, his head beaten to a pulp with
the butt of a rifle, after which his body was thrown into a pit and earth
and stones heaped upon it." [9]

This event worsened the relationship between the shah and the Baha'is,
though at that time, Baha'u'llah already held the shah responsible for the
persecution of the Babis and the Baha'is. He described the shah as the
"Prince of Oppressors", and the one who had "perpetrated what hath caused
the denizens of the cities of justice and equity to lament." Shoghi
Effendi, in support of Baha'u'llah's accusations, called the shah a despot
and laid the entire blame for the condition of Iran on the shah himself.
[10]

A TRIBUTE TO THE SHAH

Only 6 years after the shah had Badi' tortured to death, an anonymous
book, directed toward the rulers of Iran, appeared from the same citadel
of 'Akka as Baha'u'llah's epistle to the shah. This book was, except for
a few vague allusions, ostensibly from the hand of a Iranian Shi'ah
Muslim, and a nationalistic one at that:

"... [Persians] have always excelled all other peoples in endowments
conferred by birth. Persia herself, moreover, from the standpoint of her
temperate climate and natural beauties, her geographical advantages and her
rich soil, is blessed to a supreme degree." [11]

The author continues to establish himself as a proud Persian, praising
the Persian Empire as the pride of antiquity (c. 500 BC):

"She was distinguished among all peoples for the scope of her dominion, she
was honored by all for her praiseworthy culture and civilization. She was
as the pivot of the world, she was the source and center of sciences and
arts, the well-sping of great inventions and discoveries, the rich mine of
human virtues and perfections. The intellect, the wisdom of the individual
members of this excellent nation dazzled the minds of other peoples, the
brilliance and perceptive genius that characterized all this noble race
aroused the envy of the whole world." [12]

Further establishing his credentials as a proud Iranian, the author goes on
to credit his homeland with "the first government to be established on
earth" [13]. He devaluates the classical civilization of China,
nullifying their acheivements because of what sees as their irreligion
[14]. He glorifies Persian monarchs of antiquity, while revealing a
typically Persian ethnic hatred of Alexander the Great [15], who the
author seems to have forgotten was the student of Aristotle, a
universalist, an unsurpassed admirer of Persian culture [16], and exalted
to the status of an Apostle of God in the Qur'an [17].

The anonymous author also establishes himself as a strong supporter of the shah:

"His Majesty the Shah has, at the present time, (1875) resolved to bring
about the advancement of the Persian people, their welfare and security and
the prosperity of their country. He has spontaneously extended assistance
to his subjects, displaying energy and fair-mindedness, hoping that by the
light of justice he might make Iran the envy of East and West, and set that
fine fervor which characterized the first great epochs of Persia to flowing
again through the veins of her people." [18]

The author continues in his "tribute to this high indeavor" [19] of the
shah, to lay praise on his king:

"... the fair-minded ruler of Iran has gathered his people into the shelter
of justice, and the sincerity of the imperial purpose has shown itself in
kingly acts. Hoping that his reign will rival the glorious past, he has
sought to establish equity and righteousness and to foster education and
the process of civilization throughout this noble land, and to translate
from potentiality into actuality whatever will insure its progress. Not
until now had we seen a monarch, holding in his capable hands the reins of
affairs, and on whose high resolve the welfare of all his subjects depends,
exerting as it would befit him, like a benevolent father, his efforts
toward the training and cultivation of his people, seeking to insure their
well-being and peace of mind, and exhibiting due concern for their
interests; this servant and those like him have therefore remained silent.
Now, however, it is clear to the discerning that the Shah has of his own
accord determined to establish a just government and to secure the progress
of all his subjects. His honorable intention has consequently evoked this
present statement." [20]

Having thus established the just intentions of the shah, the author
continues to lavish praise upon Nasiru'd-Din by declaring that, second only
to the Prophets of God (Jesus, Muhammad, etc.), "just kings" are given the
highest spiritual rank in Creation. [21]

The heart of the mystery author's tribute to the shah is his support for
the reforms that the shah had been striving to realize [22]. Among the
reforms that the author credits the shah with propogating are:

1. Reform the educational system.
2. Reform the state of Persian culture [23]
3. Develop useful arts and sciences.
4. Promote industry and technology.
5. Set up just legislation, in accord with the Divine
(apparently Islamic) laws. [24]
6. Strengthen relationships with neighboring countries.
7. Enter into binding treaties with the great powers
(Russia, Britain).
8. Expand trade with the nations of East and West.
9. Relieve provincial and district governors of their
absolute authority.
10. Improve the clothing, housing and training of the
military.
11. Supply the military with the most advanced types of
firearms and other weapons. [25]

The author encourages the establishment of a parliament, though he
mentions that parliamentry rule has disadvantages:

"Where, in the past, if a poor man wanted his rights he had only to
offer a gift to one individual, now he would either have to renounce
all hope of justice or else satisfy the entire membership." [26]

Justice by bribary is an Iranian tradition. The author is clearly
_very_ Iranian.

What is even more remarkable than this anonymous writer's enthusiastic
support of the shah is his apparent conviction that Islam itself is
capable of saving the world, in light of the fact that this writer
turned out to be 'Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah's 31 year old heir.

"Every community is toiling for the advancement of its people, and we
(i.e., Muslims) sleep on ... Now if the illustrious people of the one
true God ... should adopt procedures for the spreading of the Faith and
should bend all their efforts to this end, it is certain that His
Divine light would envelop the whole earth."

One of the most significant arguments that 'Abdu'l-Baha makes is that the
Islamic ordinance of "holy war" can be discontinued as a matter of common
sense, that it is no longer necessary and further that it never was! He
demonstrates this by citing a tradition about the great influence of a
single Christian nomad in pre-Islamic Arabia [27]. He says nothing about
holy war needing to be abrogated by a new revelation of God.

The fact that at such a late date, two years after Baha'u'llah had revealed
his "Most Holy Book," a point at which most of Baha'u'llah's writings had
been produced, a date by which the claims of the Baha'is were well known,
that the Baha'i heir should conceal his religious affiliation and
optimistically suggest various reforms without any specific mention of
Baha'u'llah or the Baha'is, even to speak of the "Day of Judgement" as
though it is still in the future [28], suggests to Baha'is that they may
work for the common good without any mention of their faith, rather,
preferring the religions of the past to make their arguments with.

Although Baha'u'llah had written that the shah would soon be made
"an object-lesson for the world" [29], Nasiru'd-Din Shah continued
to oppose the Baha'is for fifty lunar years, and did not die in slow
disgrace, but rather his reign was at its height when he was
assassinated by a "religious nationalist" [30]. His rule extended
from the height of the Bab's ministry, through the early years of
Baha's leadership of the Babis, across the entire stretch of
Baha'u'llah's ministry, and thrived for years after Baha'u'llah died
in exile.

1. Iran-A Country Study, pp. 44-45
2. Alessandro Bausani, The Persians, 1962, pg. 170
3. Iran-A Country Study, pp. 48-49
4. Alessandro Bausani, The Persians, 1962, pp. 167-174
5. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, 1944, pg. 37
6. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, 1944, pg. 63
7. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, 1944, pg. 118
8. Adib Taherzadeh, Revelation of Baha'u'llah, Vol.3, pg. 184
9. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, 1944, pg. 199
10. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, 1944, pg. 197
11. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 9
12. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 7
13. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 8
14. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 26
15. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 67-69
16. Iran-A Country Study, pp. 28-29
17. Sura of the Cave, 83-98 (Dawood)
18. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 5
19. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 6
20. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 10-11
21. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 20
22. Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 16
23. Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 12
24. Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 14
25. Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 15
26. Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 18
27. Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 43-52
28. Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 53
29. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, 1944, pg. 225
30. Iran-A Country Study, pg. 48


Matthew P Menge

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May 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/9/96
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In response to William Cassidy's post...


1. Concerning the condemnation of Nasiri'd-Din Shah and his fate.

First, the Baha'i teachings do not present Nasiri'd-Din Shah
as a cruel, scheming man. Rather, he is described as "a selfish,
capricious, and imperious monarch" (PDC 67). Shoghi Effendi
characterizes the Shah's reign as being out of control and
characaterized by negligence, letting his court run out of
control,etc. Likewise , Baha'u'llah's publsihed _Tablet to
Nasiri'd-Din Shah_ is largely an appeal for assistance.

The Shah's untimely assasination is then a symptom of this
character deficiency, inasmuch as he was assasinated in the midst of
celebrating his own greatness.

2. Concerning 'Abdu'l-Baha's praise of the Shah

'Abdu'l-Baha's _Secret of Divine Civilization_, which we are
all familiar with, was indeed written for the glory of Persia.
'Abdu'l-Baha was Persian. There is nothing in the Baha'i teachings
that say you cannot try to help out your country.
As far as I know, neither Baha'u'llah nor 'Abdu'l-Baha would
publicly denounce anyone except for an important reason (we will not
go into the reasons for this policy now). They were not petty,
obviously.

When there is no ulterior motive, both of these figures will
usually paint anyone in as benevolent of a fashion as possible.
You had mentioned China for instance. 'Abdu'l-Baha elsewhere
states that China has great spiritual capacities. This reflects his
generally optimistic attitude about everything, unless he feels that
there is an important reason to condemn someone or something.

3. Concerning the condemnation of kings and clergy.

Baha'u'llah believed (I presume) that both rulers and
clergy-men had exceptional moral responsibility. As such he gives
especially strong condemnation to immoral conduct from these figures.
Baha'u'llah's sterness with such figures is probably also to
lay the groundwork for the protection of less powerful people's
rights in a Baha'i society.


Regards,
Matt


Kamran Hakim

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May 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/9/96
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In the topic "The Shah and the Baha'is" wcas...@zrocks.wr.usgs.gov
(William Cassady) writes:

WC>The following is a study on Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha, & Nasiru'd-Din Shah.

Hello my axe-grinding friend. I hope everything is going well with you.
You have offered a wonderful manuscript as a "study on Baha'u'llah,
'Abdu'l-Baha, & Nasiru'd-Din Shah." with three topics: 1- AN OBJECT-LESSON
FOR THE WORLD; 2- THE BAHA'IS AND THE SHAH; and, 3- A TRIBUTE TO THE SHAH.

Your work does indeed require much attention, since it opens the eyes of
the public and sheds much light on who we are. As such your work is both
humbling and a source for contemplation.

With your permission I'd like to start with commenting on the third part of
your scholarly "study guide" which deals with the book "Secret of Divine
Civilization" printed by the Baha'i Publishing Trust, ISBN 0-87743-008,
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 56-12427.

Part 1 of 8


Kamran Hakim

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May 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/9/96
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Continuation from part 7:

WC>The fact that at such a late date, two years after Baha'u'llah had revealed
WC>his "Most Holy Book," a point at which most of Baha'u'llah's writings had
WC>been produced, a date by which the claims of the Baha'is were well known,
WC>that the Baha'i heir should conceal his religious affiliation and
WC>optimistically suggest various reforms without any specific mention of
WC>Baha'u'llah or the Baha'is, even to speak of the "Day of Judgement" as
WC>though it is still in the future [28], suggests to Baha'is that they may
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
WC>work for the common good without any mention of their faith, rather,
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
WC>preferring the religions of the past to make their arguments with.

If we are to look at this issue from an omissive point of view such as
your, then your conclusion is correct by the virtue of design. However,
if we are to look at the Secret of Divine Civilization in its entirety
then your conclusion would be very much off the mark.

Once again I'd like to remind you about the benefits of a "good word":
"Seest thou not to what God likeneth a good word? To a good tree; its
root firmly fixed, and its branches reaching unto heaven: yielding its
fruits in all seasons." [Qur'an 14:24] The purpose of 'Abdu'l-Baha was
not to invite the Shah to accept the Baha'i Faith. His purpose was to
offer the Shah and the people of Iran the scope of their socio-political
problem, the sources of those problems, the nature of the changes
required both at the leadership and the citizens' levels.

Regarding the usage of the term "Hour" and its application.

"Although the noble conduct of the Prophets and Holy Ones of God is widely
known, and it is indeed, until the coming of the Hour, [Qur'an 33:63 "Men
will ask The of 'the Hour.' Say: The knowledge of it is with God alone."
Cf. also 22:1, "earthquakes of the Hour," etc. Footnote from the same
book. KH]in every aspect of life an excellent pattern for all mankind to
follow, nevertheless some have remained neglectful of and separated from
these qualities of extraordinary sympathy and loving-kindness, and have
been prevented from attaining to the inner significances of the Holy
Books. Not only do they scrupulously shun the adherents of religions
other than their own, they do not even permit themselves to show them
common courtesy."
Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 53-54

What He is saying here is that those who believe in God have all been
responsible to pattern their lives after the behavior of their Prophets,
yet, some have failed in displaying sympathy and loving-kindness to the
extent that they shun people of other religions and do not even attempt
exhibit common courtesy. The usage of the term "the Hour" comes from a
Qur'anic quote 'Abdu'l-Baha is using in the text.

The usage of the term is quite appropriate in the sense that He is
attempting to speak to an audience who thinks that "the Hour" is when
all the dead shall rise to Judgement. His audience have no idea of the
implications Baha'is associate with the Hour. After all it was Prophet
Muhammad Who said:

"kallem an-naasa alaa qadre uqoolehem" [Mersad'ul Ibaad of Najm Raazi p. 15]

which means;

"Speak to people according to their capacity." (For they will only deny what
they do not understand and it will be detrimental to them.)

And Baha'u'llah said:

"How manifold are the truths which must remain unuttered until the appointed
time is come! Even as it hath been said: `Not everything that man knoweth
can be disclosed, nor can everything he can disclose be regarded as timely,
nor can every timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of
those who hear it."
Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 176

Moreover, 'Abdu'l-Baha hints at the new revelation on many occasions
throughout this book:

1- In the opening section of the book He hints at progressive revelation:

"If we look objectively upon the world of being, it will become apparent
that from age to age, the temple of existence has continually been
embellished with a fresh grace, and distinguished with an ever-varying
splendor, deriving from wisdom and the power of thought."

Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 1

2- Later on in that same book He refers to the grace of God and the
influence of His divine Manifestation:

"Today by the grace of God and the spiritual influence of His universal
Manifestation, the fair-minded ruler of Iran has gathered his people into


the shelter of justice, and the sincerity of the imperial purpose has
shown itself in kingly acts."

Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 10-11

3- Later on He refers to the henious acts of Haji Mirza Aqasi:

"Can they [i.e. the religious leaders. KH] say it would be contrary to
the laws of God to make a death sentence conditional on the most careful
investigations, on the sanction of numerous bodies, on legal proof and
the royal order? Can they claim that what went on under the previous
government was in conformity with the Qur'an? For example, in the days
when Haji Mirza Aqasi was Prime Minister, it was heard from many sources
that the governor of Gulpayegan seized thirteen defenseless bailiffs of
that region, all of them of the holy lineage [i.e. They were Seyyeds,
from the progeny of Prophet Muhammad. KH], all of them guiltless, and
without a trial, and without obtaining any higher sanction, beheaded
them in a single hour."
Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 100

Anyone reading these lines would recognize that 'Abdu'l-Baha is not
referring to thieves, murderers or political prisoners. It is apparent
that He is referring to thirteen Babis being killed in Gulpayegan.

It appears that you have failed to understand the purpose of this book and
specifically chosen to partially represent its concepts in a public forum
as a study guide. I guess within such a mental framework it is natural to
expect such a conclusion.

Jalalu'ddin-i Rumi' the renown Persian poet in his book Mathnawi says:

"The Sage of Ghazna (*) told the mystic story
To his veiled hearers, in an allegory:

If those who err see naught in the Qur'an
But only words, it's not to wonder on;

Of all the sun's fire, lighting up the sky
Only the warmth can reach a blind man's eye."

(*) Referring to another Sufi poet Sana'i.

Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 73

Baha'u'llah also makes a rather interesting observation:

"Yea, to the beetle a sweet fragrance seemeth foul, and to the man sick of
a rheum a pleasant perfume is as naught. Wherefore, it hath been said for
the guidance of the ignorant: Cleanse thou the rheum from out thine head
And breathe the breath of God instead."

The Seven Valleys, Valley of Unity

I hope that I have been able to offer you a possible perspective for
reconsideration.

WC>Although Baha'u'llah had written that the shah would soon be made
WC>"an object-lesson for the world" [29], Nasiru'd-Din Shah continued
WC>to oppose the Baha'is for fifty lunar years, and did not die in slow
WC>disgrace, but rather his reign was at its height when he was
WC>assassinated by a "religious nationalist" [30]. His rule extended
WC>from the height of the Bab's ministry, through the early years of
WC>Baha's leadership of the Babis, across the entire stretch of
WC>Baha'u'llah's ministry, and thrived for years after Baha'u'llah died
WC>in exile.

Shoghi Effendi writes regarding this issue:

"The vain and despotic Nasiri'd-Din Shah, denounced by Baha'u'llah as the
"Prince of Oppressors"; of whom He had written that he would soon be made
"an object-lesson for the world"; whose reign was stained by the execution
of the Bab and the imprisonment of Baha'u'llah; who had persistently
instigated his subsequent banishments to Constantinople, Adrianople and
'Akka; who, in collusion with a vicious sacerdotal order, had vowed to
strangle the Faith in its cradle, was dramatically assassinated, in the
shrine of Shah Abdu'l-'Azim, on the very eve of his jubilee, which, as
ushering in a new era, was to have been celebrated with the most elaborate
magnificence, and was to go down in history as the greatest day in the
annals of the Persian nation. The fortunes of his house thereafter
steadily declined, and finally through the scandalous misconduct of the
dissipated and irresponsible Ahmad Shah, led to the eclipse and
disappearance of the Qajar dynasty."
God Passes By, p. 225

I could easily compile many references from Iranian/Muslim historians
and their view of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, but I think this posting has already
grown too long. While I respect your opinion about the Shah, I
respectfully disagree with your conclusions about him.

List of your references

WC>11. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 9
WC>12. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 7
WC>13. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 8
WC>14. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 26
WC>15. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 67-69
WC>16. Iran-A Country Study, pp. 28-29
WC>17. Sura of the Cave, 83-98 (Dawood)
WC>18. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 5
WC>19. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 6
WC>20. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 10-11
WC>21. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 20
WC>22. Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 16
WC>23. Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 12
WC>24. Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 14
WC>25. Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 15
WC>26. Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 18
WC>27. Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 43-52
WC>28. Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 53
WC>29. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, 1944, pg. 225
WC>30. Iran-A Country Study, pg. 48

My dear William, I have attempted to offer you and the readership of this
newsgroup an analysis of your "study guide". I hope that it offers you
some assistance in compiling your next revision. I encourage you to
continue your scholarly endeavour and honor this forum with sharing your
findings.

Please forgive me for the length of this article.

Part 8 of 8
Warm regards,

Kamran Hakim
kha...@asdg.enet.dec.com


Kamran Hakim

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May 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/9/96
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Continuation from part 6:

WC>One of the most significant arguments that 'Abdu'l-Baha makes is that the
WC>Islamic ordinance of "holy war" can be discontinued as a matter of common
WC>sense, that it is no longer necessary and further that it never was! He
WC>demonstrates this by citing a tradition about the great influence of a
WC>single Christian nomad in pre-Islamic Arabia [27]. He says nothing about
WC>holy war needing to be abrogated by a new revelation of God.

Jihad is one of the fundamental tenets of Islam. The following selections
from among Hadith and the Qur'an will hopefully demonstrate the importance
of Jihad in the realm of Muslim beliefs:

Narrated by Jubair bin Haiya:

'Umar sent the Muslims to the great countries to fight the pagans. When
Al-Hurmuzan embraced Islam, 'Umar said to him. "I would like to consult
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
you regarding these countries which I intend to invade." Al-Hurmuzan
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
said, "Yes, the example of these countries and their inhabitants who are
the enemies of the Muslims, is like a bird with a head, two wings and two
legs; If one of its wings got broken, it would get up over its two legs,
with one wing and the head; and if the other wing got broken, it would
get up with two legs and a head, but if its head got destroyed, then the
two legs, two wings and the head would become useless. The head stands
for Khosrau, and one wing stands for Caesar and the other wing stands for
Faris. So, order the Muslims to go towards Khosrau." [i.e. Khosrow Parviz
the last of the Sassanid Kings of the Persian Empire. KH] So, 'Umar sent
us (to Khosrau) appointing An-Numan bin Muqrin as our commander. When we
reached the land of the enemy, the representative of Khosrau came out with
forty-thousand warriors, and an interpreter got up saying, "Let one of you
talk to me!" Al-Mughira replied, "Ask whatever you wish." The other
asked, "Who are you?" Al-Mughira replied, "We are some people from the
Arabs; we led a hard, miserable, disastrous life: we used to suck the
hides and the date stones from hunger; we used to wear clothes made up of
fur of camels and hair of goats, and to worship trees and stones. While
we were in this state, the Lord of the Heavens and the Earths, Elevated
is His Remembrance and Majestic is His Highness, sent to us from among
ourselves a Prophet whose father and mother are known to us. Our Prophet,
the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute); and our Prophet has informed us
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
that our Lord says:-- "Whoever amongst us is killed (i.e. martyred), shall
go to Paradise to lead such a luxurious life as he has never seen, and
whoever amongst us remain alive, shall become your master." (Al-Mughira,
then blamed An-Numan for delaying the attack and) An-Nu' man said to
Al-Mughira, "If you had participated in a similar battle, in the company
of Allah's Apostle he would not have blamed you for waiting, nor would he
have disgraced you. But I accompanied Allah's Apostle in many battles and
it was his custom that if he did not fight early by daytime, he would wait
till the wind had started blowing and the time for the prayer was due
(i.e. after midday)."
Sahih Bukhari 4.386

For a Muslim such a belief was well in tune with the Qur'an:

"And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with
God [i.e. moshrekin. KH] wherever ye shall find them; and seize them,
besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they
shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms, then let
them go their way, for God is Gracious, Merciful."
Qur'an 9:5
and;

"Make war upon such of those to whom the Scriptures have been given as
believe not in God, or the last day, and who forbid not that which God
and His Apostle have forbidden..."
Qur'an 9:29

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet was asked, "Which is the best deed?" He said, "To believe
in Allah and His Apostle." He was then asked, "Which is the next (in
goodness)?" He said, "To participate in Jihad in Allah's Cause." He was
then asked, "Which is the next?" He said, "To perform Hajj-Mabrur. "

Sahih Bukhari 2.594
Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, "The person who participates in (Holy battles) in
Allah's cause and nothing compels him to do so except belief in Allah and
His Apostles, will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty
(if he survives) or will be admitted to Paradise (if he is killed in the
battle as a martyr). Had I not found it difficult for my followers, then
I would not remain behind any sariya going for Jihad and I would have
loved to be martyred in Allah's cause and then made alive, and then
martyred and then made alive, and then again martyred in His cause."

Sahih Bukhari 1.35

Therefore, any suggestion implying its abrogation would be in direct
conflict with the Sunni and Shi'ah theologies. Once again 'Abdu'l-Baha is
attempting to prepare those who read His arguments to accept the message
of Baha'u'llah. 'Abdu'l-Baha writes in this regards:

"A few, who are unaware of the reality below the surface of events, who
cannot feel the pulse of the world under their fingers, who do not know
what a massive dose of truth must be administered to heal this chronic old
disease of falsehood, believe that the Faith can only be spread by the
sword, and bolster their opinion with the Tradition, "I am a Prophet by
the sword." If, however, they would carefully examine this question, they
would see that in this day and age the sword is not a suitable means for
promulgating the Faith, for it would only fill peoples' hearts with
revulsion and terror. According to the Divine Law of Muhammad, it is not
permissible to compel the People of the Book to acknowledge and accept the
Faith. While it is a sacred obligation devolving on every conscientious
believer in the unity of God to guide mankind to the truth, the Traditions
"I am a Prophet by the sword" and "I am commanded to threaten the lives of
the people until they say, 'There is none other God but God'" referred to
the idolaters of the Days of Ignorance, who in their blindness and
bestiality had sunk below the level of human beings. A faith born of
sword thrusts could hardly be relied upon, and would for any trifling
cause revert to error and unbelief. After the ascension of Muhammad, and
His passing to "the seat of truth, in the presence of the potent King,"
[Qur'an 54:55] the tribes around Medina apostatized from their Faith,
turning back to the idolatry of pagan times."

Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 43-44

Please note how He is supplying his audience with the reasons why "Jihad"
makes no sense after the passage of 13 centuries. As the Fermi level in a
doped semiconductor facilitates the transition of electron or hole from the
valance into the conduction band or visa versa and result in conduction,
likewise, 'Abdu'l-Baha's particular approach makes it possible for the
mental transition to take place. 'Abdu'l-Baha was well aware that these
people would sooner or later come into contact with the revelation of
Baha'u'llah and the abrogation of Jihad:

"Thus it was decreed in a written tablet, and they will appear with a
might whereby fear overtakes the inhabitants of the earth in a manner
which will make them all shake and tremble. Beware that ye shed no blood;
draw forth the sword of the tongue from the scabbard of utterance, for
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^
by it the cities of the heart will be subdued."
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Baha'u'llah, Tablet of the Temple
Also;

"O people of the earth! The first Glad-Tidings which the Mother Book
hath, in this Most Great Revelation, imparted unto all the peoples of
the world is that the law of holy war [i.e. Jihad. KH] hath been blotted
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
out from the Book. Glorified be the All-Merciful, the Lord of grace
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
abounding, through whom the door of heavenly bounty hath been flung open
in the face of all that are in heaven and on earth."

Tablet of the Glad-Tidings, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 21

I hope this offers you a possible context to consider this issue.

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Kamran Hakim

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Continuation from part 2:

WC>The anonymous author also establishes himself as a strong supporter of
WC>the shah:

QUOTE>"His Majesty the Shah has, at the present time, (1875) resolved to
QUOTE>bring about the advancement of the Persian people, their welfare
QUOTE>and security and the prosperity of their country. He has
QUOTE>spontaneously extended assistance to his subjects, displaying
QUOTE>energy and fair-mindedness, hoping that by the light of justice he
QUOTE>might make Iran the envy of East and West, and set that fine fervor
QUOTE>which characterized the first great epochs of Persia to flowing
QUOTE>again through the veins of her people." [18]

The expanded paragraph reads as follows:

"His Majesty the Shah has, at the present time, (1875) resolved to bring
about the advancement of the Persian people, their welfare and security
and the prosperity of their country. He has spontaneously extended
assistance to his subjects, displaying energy and fair-mindedness, hoping
that by the light of justice he might make Iran the envy of East and West,
and set that fine fervor which characterized the first great epochs of

Persia to flowing again through the veins of her people. As is clear to
the discerning, the writer has for this reason felt it necessary to put
down, for the sake of God alone and as a tribute to this high endeavor, a
brief statement on certain urgent questions. To demonstrate that His one
purpose is to promote the general welfare, He has withheld His name.
Since He believes that guidance toward righteousness is in itself a
righteous act, He offers these few words of counsel to His country's sons,
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
words spoken for God's sake alone and in the spirit of a faithful friend.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Our Lord, Who knows all things, bears witness that this Servant seeks
nothing but what is right and good; for He, a wanderer in the desert of
God's love, has come into a realm where the hand of denial or assent, of
praise or blame, can touch Him not. "We nourish your souls for the sake
of God; We seek from you neither recompense nor thanks." [Qur'an 76:9]

"The hand is veiled, yet the pen writes as bidden;
The horse leaps forward, yet the rider's hidden."

Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 5-6

This is not voice of a supporter of the Shah. These are the words of a
wise counsellor, who according to his own testimony: "offers these few
words of counsel to His country's sons, words spoken for God's sake alone
and in the spirit of a faithful friend." [ibid. p.6]

The purpose of the author is to find hearing ears, whether those of the
Shah, his ministers, people of influence or the citizens and convey a very
particular message to those hearing ears. Furthermore, a nationalistic
supporter of the type you are suggesting would want to announce his name.

WC> The author continues in his "tribute to this high indeavor" [19] of the
WC>shah, to lay praise on his king:

QUOTE>"... the fair-minded ruler of Iran has gathered his people into the
QUOTE>shelter of justice, and the sincerity of the imperial purpose has
QUOTE>shown itself in kingly acts. Hoping that his reign will rival the
QUOTE>glorious past, he has sought to establish equity and righteousness
QUOTE>and to foster education and the process of civilization throughout
QUOTE>this noble land, and to translate from potentiality into actuality
QUOTE>whatever will insure its progress. Not until now had we seen a
QUOTE>monarch, holding in his capable hands the reins of affairs, and on
QUOTE>whose high resolve the welfare of all his subjects depends, exerting
QUOTE>as it would befit him, like a benevolent father, his efforts toward
QUOTE>the training and cultivation of his people, seeking to insure their
QUOTES>well-being and peace of mind, and exhibiting due concern for their
QUOTE>interests; this servant and those like him have therefore remained
QUOTE>silent. Now, however, it is clear to the discerning that the Shah
QUOTE>has of his own accord determined to establish a just government and
QUOTE>to secure the progress of all his subjects. His honorable intention
QUOTE>has consequently evoked this present statement." [20]

Once again the expanded quote reads as follows:

"Today by the grace of God and the spiritual influence of His universal

Manifestation, the fair-minded ruler of Iran has gathered his people into


the shelter of justice, and the sincerity of the imperial purpose has
shown itself in kingly acts. Hoping that his reign will rival the
glorious past, he has sought to establish equity and righteousness and to

foster education and the processes of civilization throughout this noble


land, and to translate from potentiality into actuality whatever will
insure its progress. Not until now had we seen a monarch, holding in his
capable hands the reins of affairs, and on whose high resolve the welfare
of all his subjects depends, exerting as it would befit him, like a
benevolent father, his efforts toward the training and cultivation of his
people, seeking to insure their well-being and peace of mind, and

exhibiting due concern for their interests; this Servant and those like
Him have therefore remained silent. Now, however, it is clear to the


discerning that the Shah has of his own accord determined to establish a
just government and to secure the progress of all his subjects. His
honorable intention has consequently evoked this present statement.

It is indeed strange that instead of offering thanks for this bounty,
which truly derives from the grace of Almighty God, by arising as one in
gratitude and enthusiasm and praying that these noble purposes will daily
multiply, some, on the contrary, whose reason has been corrupted by
personal motives and the clarity of whose perception has been clouded by
self-interest and conceit; whose energies are devoted to the service of
their passions, whose sense of pride is perverted to the love of
leadership, have raised the standard of opposition and waxed loud in their
complaints. Up to now, they blamed the Shah for not, on his own
initiative, working for his people's welfare and seeking to bring about
their peace and well-being. Now that he has inaugurated this great design
they have changed their tune. Some say that these are newfangled methods
and foreign isms, quite unrelated to the present needs and the
time-honored customs of Persia. Others have rallied the helpless masses,
who know nothing of religion or its laws and basic principles and
therefore have no power of discrimination - and tell them that these
modern methods are the practices of heathen peoples, and are contrary to
the venerated canons of true faith, and they add the saying, "He who
imitates a people is one of them." One group insists that such reforms
should go forward with great deliberation, step by step, haste being
inadmissible. Another maintains that only such measures should be adopted
as the Persians themselves devise, that they themselves should reform
their political administration and their educational system and the state
of their culture and that there is no need to borrow improvements from
other nations. Every faction, in short, follows its own particular
illusion."
Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 10-12

My dear William you must have forgotten to read the opening part of
this paragraph: "Today by the grace of God and the spiritual influence of
His universal Manifestation," [[ibid. p. 10] The universal Manifestation
referred to here Baha'u'llah is intended. It is important to point out
that the usage of the term "Mazhar" or "Manifestation" as a replacement
for Prophet and Messenger first started in the Writings of the Bab.
Muslims, in general, do not use this term because they mistakenly associate
it with the concept of incarnation (occasional references to this term can
be seen in the writings of Ibn-i Arabi, Gilani and some Sufi writers). Such
a reference in the book was therefore a clear signal that the writer cannot
be exactly a Shi'ah Muslim.

Furthermore, the writer associates any accomplishments of the shah with
the "grace of God" and "influence of His universal Manifestation". The
writer while, quite respectful in his approach, has far more regard for
"God" and "His universal Manifestation" than the Shah (He writes: "this
bounty, which truly derives from the grace of Almighty God" [ibid. p. 11].

Moreover, if a person is giving tribute to the Shah, he would not make
statements such as: "Hoping that his [i.e. Shah's. KH] reign will rival
the glorious past..."
Part 3 of 8


Kamran Hakim

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Continuation from part 4:

WC>The author encourages the establishment of a parliament, though he
WC>mentions that parliamentry rule has disadvantages:

QUOTE>"Where, in the past, if a poor man wanted his rights he had only to
QUOTE>offer a gift to one individual, now he would either have to renounce
QUOTE>all hope of justice or else satisfy the entire membership." [26]

Actually what the author says is quite interesting:

"While the setting up of parliaments, the organizing of assemblies of
consultation, constitutes the very foundation and bedrock of government,
there are several essential requirements which these institutions must
fulfill."
Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 17

Then he goes on to describe the requirements:

"First, the elected members must be righteous, God-fearing, high-minded,
incorruptible. Second, they must be fully cognizant, in every particular,
of the laws of God, informed as to the highest principles of law, versed
in the rules which govern the management of internal affairs and the
conduct of foreign relations, skilled in the useful arts of civilization,
and content with their lawful emoluments."

Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 17

Furthermore he assures his readers:

"Let it not be imagined that members of this type would be impossible to
find. Through the grace of God and His chosen ones, and the high
endeavors of the devoted and the consecrated, every difficulty can be
easily resolved, every problem however complex will prove simpler than
blinking an eye."
Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 17

Then the author warns his audience regarding those parliamentarians who
lack such attributes:

"If, however, the members of these consultative assemblies are inferior,
ignorant, uninformed of the laws of government and administration, unwise,
of low aim, indifferent, idle, self-seeking, no benefit will accrue from
the organizing of such bodies. Where, in the past, if a poor man wanted


his rights he had only to offer a gift to one individual, now he would
either have to renounce all hope of justice or else satisfy the entire
membership."

Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 18

WC>Justice by bribary is an Iranian tradition. The author is clearly
WC>_very_ Iranian.

On the contrary, the author, appears to have said in the same book:

"If bribery and corruption, known today by the pleasant names of gifts
and favors, were forever excluded, would this threaten the foundations
of justice?"
Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 15

Dear William, I guess scholarship by omission is also a human traditions.
Regrettably this form of scholarship does appear to have any nationality.

Part 5 of 8


Kamran Hakim

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Continuation from part 5:

WC>What is even more remarkable than this anonymous writer's enthusiastic
WC>support of the shah is his apparent conviction that Islam itself is
WC>capable of saving the world, in light of the fact that this writer
WC>turned out to be 'Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah's 31 year old heir.

QUOTE>"Every community is toiling for the advancement of its people,
QUOTE>and we (i.e., Muslims) sleep on ... Now if the illustrious people
QUOTE>of the one true God ... should adopt procedures for the spreading
QUOTE> of the Faith and should bend all their efforts to this end, it
QUOTE>is certain that His Divine light would envelop the whole earth."

I was wondering how come these quotations look so familiar!? :-) Thank
you for letting me know who the author was.

In the quote you have offered you have mixed two different topics of:
1- community's resolve for advancement in education and sciences and
2- spreading of the Faith. This is a questionable approach. Now that
you have stopped your scholastic Peek-A-Boo let us see if there are
any other ways to look at what 'Abdu'l-Baha is saying. Regarding "1"
He writes:

"Fifteen centuries after Christ, Luther, who was originally one of the
twelve members of a Catholic religious body at the center of the Papal
government and later on initiated the Protestant religious belief, opposed
the Pope on certain points of doctrine... Although at that period the
power of the Pope was so great and he was regarded with such awe that the
kings of Europe shook and trembled before him, and he held control of all
Europe's major concerns in the grasp of his might - nevertheless because
Luther's position...was demonstrably correct, and because the proper means
were adopted for the promulgation of his views: within these last four
hundred and some years the majority of the population of America,
four-fifths of Germany and England and a large percentage of Austrians, in
sum about one hundred and twenty-five million people drawn from other
Christian denominations, have entered the Protestant Church.

The leaders of this religion are still making every effort to promote it,
and today on the East Coast of Africa, ostensibly to emancipate the
Sudanese and various Negro peoples, they have established schools and
colleges and are training and civilizing completely savage African tribes,
while their true and primary purpose is to convert some of the Muslim
Negro tribes to Protestantism. Every community is toiling for the
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
advancement of its people, and we (i.e., Muslims) sleep on!
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 41-43

Please note that 'Abdu'l-Baha is attempting to contrast the Lutheran
resolve for advancement against Iranian Shi'ah Muslims' lack of resolve
to do the same.

Regarding "2" He writes:

"Other attributes of perfection are to fear God, to love God by loving His
servants, to exercise mildness and forbearance and calm, to be sincere,
amenable, clement and compassionate; to have resolution and courage,
trustworthiness and energy, to strive and struggle, to be generous, loyal,
without malice, to have zeal and a sense of honor, to be high-minded and
magnanimous, and to have regard for the rights of others. Whoever is
lacking in these excellent human qualities is defective. If We were to
explain the inner meanings of each one of these attributes, "the poem
would take up seventy maunds [i.e. six and 2/3 pounds. KH] of paper."

The second of these spiritual standards which apply to the possessor of
knowledge is that he should be the defender of his faith. It is obvious
that these holy words do not refer exclusively to searching out the
implications of the Law, observing the forms of worship, avoiding greater
and lesser sins, practicing the religious ordinances, and by all these
methods, protecting the Faith. They mean rather that the whole population
should be protected in every way; that every effort should be exerted to
adopt a combination of all possible measures to raise up the Word of God,
increase the number of believers, promote the Faith of God and exalt it
and make it victorious over other religions."

Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 40-41

Please note that 'Abdu'l-Baha has defined the condition for the triumph of
Islam in the above quote. Then He makes the following conditional
statement regarding the Muslim leaders:

"If, indeed, the Muslim religious authorities had persevered along these
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
lines as they ought to have done, by now every nation on earth would have
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
been gathered into the shelter of the unity of God and the bright fire of
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
"that He may make it victorious over every other religion"23 would have
flamed out like the sun in the midmost heart of the world."

Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 41

Furthermore He identified the Muslim task (i.e. the followers of the
religious leaders) in another conditional statement:

"Now if the illustrious people of the one true God [i.e. Muslims. KH], the
recipients of His confirmations, the objects of His Divine assistance,
should put forth all their strength, and with complete dedication, relying
upon God and turning aside from all else but Him, should adopt procedures
for spreading the Faith and should bend all their efforts to this end, it


is certain that His Divine light would envelop the whole earth."

Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 43

The purpose of the conditional statement is remind Muslims and their
religious leaders of those lost characteristics which once was the
cause of Muslim progress. 'Abdu'l-Baha knows full well that Muslims and
their leaders could not rise to this challenge, however, by reminding
them of such spiritual pre-requisites He is implanting in the Muslim
mind the necessary requirements for the resurrection of the human spirit.
After all the Qur'an testifies:

"Seest thou not to what God likeneth a good word? To a good tree; its
root firmly fixed, and its branches reaching unto heaven: yielding its
fruits in all seasons." [Qur'an 14:24]

What 'Abdu'l-Baha has done in the Secret of Divine Civilization is
brilliant in the sense that those words have continued to resonate
in the minds of those who have come into contact with it and in due
time its fruits shall ripen. He is in the clearest sense of the term
is preparing and enabling his Muslim audience, in the context of their
own traditions and beliefs, to favorably react to the healing message
of Baha'u'llah as they come into contact with it.

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Kamran Hakim

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Continuation from part 3:

WC>Having thus established the just intentions of the shah, the author
WC>continues to lavish praise upon Nasiru'd-Din by declaring that, second only
WC>to the Prophets of God (Jesus, Muhammad, etc.), "just kings" are given the
WC>highest spiritual rank in Creation. [21]

This is a gross misunderstanding. What the author is saying is:

"The highest station, the supreme sphere, the noblest, most sublime
position in creation, whether visible or invisible, whether alpha or
omega, is that of the Prophets of God, notwithstanding the fact that for
the most part they have to outward seeming been possessed of nothing but
their own poverty. In the same way, ineffable glory is set apart for the
Holy Ones and those who are nearest to the Threshold of God, although such
as these have never for a moment concerned themselves with material gain.
Then comes the station of those just kings whose fame as protectors of the
people and dispensers of Divine justice has filled the world, whose name
as powerful champions of the people's rights has echoed through creation.
These give no thought to amassing enormous fortunes for themselves; they
believe, rather, that their own wealth lies in enriching their subjects.
To them, if every individual citizen has affluence and ease, the royal
coffers are full. They take no pride in gold and silver, but rather in
their enlightenment and their determination to achieve the universal good.

Next in rank are those eminent and honorable ministers of state and
representatives, who place the will of God above their own, and whose
administrative skill and wisdom in the conduct of their office raises the
science of government to new heights of perfection. They shine in the
learned world like lamps of knowledge; their thinking, their attitudes and
their acts demonstrate their patriotism and their concern for the
country's advancement."
Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 20-21

The author is not praising the Shah. He is informing the Shah, from a
theological stand point, about the potential station of a just king. That
is to say: If the Shah was to act justly this would be your spiritual
station.He characterizes the attributes of such a king in the same book
and identifies them as those "whose name as powerful champions of the
people's rights has echoed through creation. These give no thought to
amassing enormous fortunes for themselves; they believe, rather, that
their own wealth lies in enriching their subjects. To them, if every
individual citizen has affluence and ease, the royal coffers are full.
They take no pride in gold and silver, but rather in their enlightenment
and their determination to achieve the universal good." Clearly Nasiri'd-
Din Shah did not fulfill any of these, yet he deserved to be informed
of the requirements.


WC>The heart of the mystery author's tribute to the shah is his support for
WC>the reforms that the shah had been striving to realize [22]. Among the
WC>reforms that the author credits the shah with propogating are:

WC>1. Reform the educational system.
WC>2. Reform the state of Persian culture [23]
WC>3. Develop useful arts and sciences.
WC>4. Promote industry and technology.
WC>5. Set up just legislation, in accord with the Divine
WC> (apparently Islamic) laws. [24]
WC>6. Strengthen relationships with neighboring countries.
WC>7. Enter into binding treaties with the great powers
WC> (Russia, Britain).
WC>8. Expand trade with the nations of East and West.
WC>9. Relieve provincial and district governors of their
WC> absolute authority.
WC>10. Improve the clothing, housing and training of the
WC> military.
WC>11. Supply the military with the most advanced types of
WC> firearms and other weapons. [25]

Regarding the 11 points you have made, the author says:

"...some, on the contrary, whose reason has been corrupted by personal


motives and the clarity of whose perception has been clouded by
self-interest and conceit; whose energies are devoted to the service
of their passions, whose sense of pride is perverted to the love of
leadership, have raised the standard of opposition and waxed loud in
their complaints. Up to now, they blamed the Shah for not, on his own
initiative, working for his people's welfare and seeking to bring about
their peace and well-being. Now that he has inaugurated this great design
they have changed their tune."

Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 11-12

Furthermore He writes:

"Others have rallied the helpless masses, who know nothing of religion
or its laws and basic principles and therefore have no power of
discrimination - and tell them that these modern methods are the practices
of heathen peoples, and are contrary to the venerated canons of true
faith, and they add the saying, "He who imitates a people is one of them."
One group insists that such reforms should go forward with great
deliberation, step by step, haste being inadmissible. Another maintains
that only such measures should be adopted as the Persians themselves
devise, that they themselves should reform their political administration
and their educational system and the state of their culture and that there
is no need to borrow improvements from other nations. Every faction, in
short, follows its own particular illusion."

Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 12

Moreover, he argues:

"O people of Persia! How long will you wander? How long must your
confusion last? How long will it go on, this conflict of opinions, this
useless antagonism, this ignorance, this refusal to think? Others are
alert, and we sleep our dreamless sleep. Other nations are making every
effort to improve their condition; we are trapped in our desires and
self-indulgences, and at every step we stumble into a new snare...

Those who maintain that these modern concepts apply only to other
countries and are irrelevant in Iran, that they do not satisfy her
requirements or suit her way of life, disregard the fact that other
nations were once as we are now. Did not these new systems and
procedures, these progressive enterprises, contribute to the advancement
of those countries? Were the people of Europe harmed by the adoption of
such measures? Or did they rather by these means reach the highest degree
of material development? Is it not true that for centuries, the people of
Persia have lived as we see them living today, carrying out the pattern of
the past? Have any discernible benefits resulted, has any progress been
made? If these things had not been tested by experience, some in whose
minds the light of native intelligence is clouded, might idly question
them. On the contrary, however, every aspect of these prerequisites to
progress have in other countries been time and again put to the test, and
their benefits demonstrated so plainly that even the dullest mind can
grasp them.

Let us consider this justly and without bias: let us ask ourselves which
one of these basic principles and sound, well-established procedures would
fail to satisfy our present needs, or would be incompatible with Persia's
best political interests or injurious to the general welfare of her
people. Would the extension of education, the development of useful arts
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
and sciences, the promotion of industry and technology, be harmful things?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
For such endeavor lifts the individual within the mass and raises him out
of the depths of ignorance to the highest reaches of knowledge and human
excellence. Would the setting up of just legislation, in accord with the
Divine laws which guarantee the happiness of society and protect the
rights of all mankind and are an impregnable proof against assault - would
such laws, insuring the integrity of the members of society and their
equality before the law, inhibit their prosperity and success?...

Would it spell perdition for our subjects if the provincial and district
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
governors were relieved of their present absolute authority, whereby they
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
function exactly as they please, and were instead limited to equity and
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
truth, and if their sentences involving capital punishment, imprisonment
^^^^^
and the like were contingent on confirmation by the Shah and by higher
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
courts in the capital, who would first duly investigate the case and
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
determine the nature and seriousness of the crime, and then hand down a
just decision subject to the issuance of a decree by the sovereign? If


bribery and corruption, known today by the pleasant names of gifts and
favors, were forever excluded, would this threaten the foundations of

justice? Would it be an evidence of unsound thinking to deliver the
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
soldiery, who are a living sacrifice to the state and the people and brave
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
death at every turn, from their present extreme misery and indigence, and
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
to make adequate arrangements for their sustenance, clothing and housing,
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
and exert every effort to instruct their officers in military science, and
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
supply them with the most advanced types of firearms and other weapons?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Should anyone object that the above-mentioned reforms have never yet been
fully effected, he should consider the matter impartially and know that
these deficiencies have resulted from the total absence of a unified
public opinion, and the lack of zeal and resolve and devotion in the
country's leaders. It is obvious that not until the people are educated,
not until public opinion is rightly focused, not until government
officials, even minor ones, are free from even the least remnant of
corruption, can the country be properly administered. Not until
discipline, order and good government reach the degree where an
individual, even if he should put forth his utmost efforts to do so, would
still find himself unable to deviate by so much as a hair's breadth from
righteousness, can the desired reforms be regarded as fully established.

Furthermore, any agency whatever, though it be the instrument of mankind's
greatest good, is capable of misuse. Its proper use or abuse depends on
the varying degrees of enlightenment, capacity, faith, honesty, devotion
and highmindedness of the leaders of public opinion.

The Shah has certainly done his part, and the execution of the proposed
beneficial measures is now in the hands of persons functioning in
assemblies of consultation. If these individuals prove to be pure and
high-minded, if they remain free from the taint of corruption, the
confirmations of God will make them a never-failing source of bounty to
mankind. He will cause to issue from their lips and their pens what will
bless the people, so that every corner of this noble country of Iran will
be illumined with their justice and integrity and the rays of that light
will encompass the whole earth. "Neither will this be difficult with
God." [Qur'an 14:23]"
Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 12-17

Please forgive me for quoting at length, however, I felt it was important
to offer this issue in its proper context which is very different from
the picture you have painted.
Part 4 of 8


William Cassady

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May 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/10/96
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Kamran Hakim has given us a very thorough response to my essay on
the Shah of the late 19th century. I think it is for the most part
sufficient, but I would like to mention a few things, and perhaps
I'll continue in a later posting.

Mr. Hakim writes:

KH>My dear William, I'd like to respectfully recommend that you re-examine
KH>the Secret of Divine Civilization once again. It appears to me that you
KH>have missed the author's intention on this front as well.

Perhaps I should, but first allow me to state my general opinion:

Abdu'l-Baha's purpose was to make constructive suggestions to the
Shah regarding the governance of Iran. My brutishly cynical tones
are not intended to object to that purpose, but to point out that
Abdu'l-Baha's suggestions were not necessarily in line with his
father's teachings. Forgive me for not stressing the enlightened
purpose of Abdu'l-Baha in writing SODC.

JIHAD

It is certain that Jihad is a fundamental doctrine of Islam. No
hadith is necessary to know that. The Qur'an makes it clear.
But look at Abdu'l-Baha's words. You will find that they argue
against Jihad. But Mr. Hakim points out the following:

KH>Therefore, any suggestion implying its abrogation would be in direct
KH>conflict with the Sunni and Shi'ah theologies. Once again 'Abdu'l-Baha is
KH>attempting to prepare those who read His arguments to accept the message
KH>of Baha'u'llah.

Mr. Hakim, what do you think a Muslim would have thought of
Abdu'l-Baha's analysis of Jihad? My guess is that Abdu'l-Baha's
words would appear heretical. Why did he argue that Jihad was
a flawed policy _to_begin_with_?

Let me grant you this: Abdu'l-Baha may have been paving the
way for acceptance of Baha'u'llah's abrogation of Jihad.
Still, he managed to demonstrate that Jihad was ineffective
for the early Muslims. This would lead me to conclude that
he was criticizing Islam. But of course Abdu'l-Baha would
never do that. Why, then, did he so criticize Jihad?

Perhaps it was just a flawed argument?

Was he appealing to the Shah's pro-modern or Iranian
sentiments?

CHINA

I'll remind you of my passage regarding Abdu'l-Baha's view of China:

WC>He devaluates the classical civilization of China,
WC>nullifying their acheivements because of what sees as their irreligion
WC>[14].

Mr. Hakim replies:

KH>Clearly the purpose of these lines is not to put down a group of people
KH>at the expense of another. The purpose is to point out to those religious
KH>leaders and their followers who called adopting good ideas from foreigners
KH>and non-Muslims as blasphemy that there is nothing wrong with adopting
KH>foreign inventions and technological/scientific advancements.

True. Abdu'l-Baha's _intent_ was not to degrade the Chinese.
It just so happens that he degraded them along the way:

"It is certain that the people of China are, in the sight of God,
among the most rejected of men."

I don't think that Abdu'l-Baha disliked the Chinese. Perhaps he was
using this manner of speach to speak to the Shah's prejudices.
Nevertheless, he _did_ degrade them. Granted, he degraded them
in religious terms; at least he didn't insult their intelligence or
humanity.

ALEXANDER THE GREAT

Alexander the Great was no friend of ancient Iran. Ancient Iran was
a great civilization, and Alexander laid much of it to waste. It is for
this reason that I don't like Alexander much more than Abdu'l-Baha
appears to. Nor do I like what Omar did to Iran. My point is that
the Qur'an liked Alexander, and Abdu'l-Baha didn't - but what patriotic
Iranian should like Alexander? I don't blame Abdu'l-Baha for this.

Why then, did I speak so well of Alexander? I was emphasizing
his good side for the sake of argument, and I apologize for that.

I don't think Abdu'l-Baha's allegorical interpretation of "Alexander"
to be "Ali" (a very Shi'ah interpretation) should be used as evidence
in this context, since my very point is to focus on his disagreement
with the Qur'an on Alexander.

Thank you for your scholarly input,
wc

William Cassady

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May 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/10/96
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Having now read over Mr. Hakim's thoughts on "Secret of Divine
Civilization", please allow me to complete my thoughts.

---

Mr. Hakim has credited me with "scholastic peek-a-boo". Let me remind
the reader that Abdu'l-Baha wrote SODC anonymously. I would be taking
that credit falsely if I didn't defer the credit for Mr. Hakim's
"scholastic peek-a-boo" to Abdu'l-Baha himself.

---

My original point was: regardless of Abdu'l-Baha's purpose in writing
SODC, he makes it clear that he has a high opinion of the Shah. Mr.
Hakim has countered my argument by showing that Abdu'l-Baha was
counselling the Shah:

KH>This is not voice of a supporter of the Shah. These are the words of a
KH>wise counsellor, who according to his own testimony: "offers these few
KH>words of counsel to His country's sons, words spoken for God's sake alone
KH>and in the spirit of a faithful friend." [ibid. p.6]

KH>The purpose of the author is to find hearing ears, whether those of the
KH>Shah, his ministers, people of influence or the citizens and convey a very
KH>particular message to those hearing ears. Furthermore, a nationalistic
KH>supporter of the type you are suggesting would want to announce his name.

In other words, Mr. Hakim is suggesting that Abdu'l-Baha is only posing as
a supporter so that the Shah will listen to him. He thus conceals his
identity so that the Shah will give him a fair reading. That seems like a
defensible hypothesis.

However, Abdu'l-Baha goes far beyond anonymity and a few sweet words. He
lists, in detail, the accomplishments of the Shah. Yet still, perhaps he
was just piling on the false praise higher and higher. Perhaps Mr. Hakim
is correct, but if Mr. Hakim is correct, then it must be accepted that
Abdu'l-Baha accepted and utilized false praise as a literary mechanism.

Regarding the 11 reforms that Abdu'l-Baha credits the shah with propogating
in SODC, Mr. Hakim appears to have countered my mention of these reforms by
listing passages referring to opponents to the Shah's efforts. Mr. Hakim
then underlines some of the advancements that Abdu'l-Baha advocates, and
then presents this as a relevent counter-argument, without explaining his
interpretation of these passages at all. He then procedes to accuse me of
misrepresenting these things! Mr. Hakim, are you suggesting that the fact
that Abdu'l-Baha encourages these advancements nullifies his crediting the
Shah for also encouraging them? What are you suggesting?

---

The logic of Baha'i scholars escapes me.

1) Anything can be completely redefined; you only have to call it a
metaphor. An example is Abdu'l-Baha's alleged redefinition of
Alexander in the Qur'an to Ali. How can this be described as an
interpretation of metaphor? It is clearly a simple alteration
of content used to defend Shi'ah doctrine, as there was no
parable, allegaory, or metaphor involved.

2) Abdu'l-Baha's authority to interpret Baha'u'llah licenses him to
defy logic. For example, when Baha'u'llah explicitly permits
bigamy, Abdu'l-Baha can interpret Baha'u'llah to have intended
to forbid bigamy. That is not interpretation; that is
alteration.

3) When a problematic passage is encountered, it is sufficient
to quote another passage from scripture which contradicts it.
Sometimes, as Mr. Hakim has demonstrated in addressing the
"11 reforms", not even contradiction is necessary, but only
a distracting irrelevancy.

4) Now, according to Mr. Hakim, Abdu'l-Baha has established that
he poses as a Muslim and praises the reader just to butter
him up? How often, then, has Abdu'l-Baha used this device in
other works? Mr. Hakim, by the way, uses this mechanism on
me by speaking well of me although he accuses me of willful
omission of materials. Perhaps this double-talk is just an
Iranian tradition?

Why can't the Baha'i writings just say what they mean, rather
than heaping obscurity upon paradox upon mystery? I am far
too simple a man to understand your religion.

---

Regarding bribery, Mr. Hakim has fallen into the common trap,
so frequented by Baha'is, of offering up a contradictory
passage to nullify a problematic passage. What of the
passage which I quoted, wherein Abdu'l-Baha backslides into
defending one form of bribery against another? Does the fact
that he criticizes bribery on one page counter-balance his
condoning bribery on another page, or is he just
contradicting himself and betraying his upbringing in the
process? I would appreciate some discussion, and not just a
pasting of quotations and redundant accusations (of willful
omission).

---

The only source of opinion on the Shah's life and death
that Mr. Hakim offers is Shoghi Effendi - just about the
least unbiased source imaginable.

Strange that many western accounts speak well of
Nasir'u'd-Din Shah, but how can I think well of him
knowing how he persecuted the Babis and Baha'is?
I cannot. I tend to think, however, that the Baha'is
would have been persecuted horribly no matter who
occupied the throne. I could be wrong.

The following question stands:

How could Baha'u'llah's curse on the Shah be said to
have been effective when the Shah reigned confidently
for 50 lunar years, outliving Baha'u'llah himself?


Matthew P Menge

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May 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/10/96
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William Cassidy writes...


>Let me grant you this: Abdu'l-Baha may have been paving the
>way for acceptance of Baha'u'llah's abrogation of Jihad.
>Still, he managed to demonstrate that Jihad was ineffective
>for the early Muslims. This would lead me to conclude that
>he was criticizing Islam. But of course Abdu'l-Baha would
>never do that. Why, then, did he so criticize Jihad?

I do not have the time to go into the intensive discussions
you and Mr. Hakim have delved into, but let me add my insights into
these questions.

First of all, I would like to adress the nature of
'Abdu'l-Baha as far as I understand at. 'Abdu'l-Baha very much
changed his tone when speaking to different people. If he was
speaking to a scientist he would speak as a scientist. If he was
speaking to a philanthropist he would speak as a philanthropist.
'Abdu'l-Baha was essentially capable of seeing any matter from an
infinitum of possible perspectives and presenting his answer in a
manner most suitable to the hearer.

You seem to have confused this with two-facedness or
deception, when in actuality 'Abdu'l-Baha's tone-switching is due to
his superhuman breadth of understanding. From my analysis of what
you have writted, I think this is a very basic misunderstanding of
'Abdu'l-Baha and Baha'u'llah that appears throughout your writings.

Baha'u'llah even states quite explicitly in His writings that
He changes His tone depending on who He is talking to. This is due
both to His near-omniscience and His love for all mankind.

Until you understand this I fear you will have great
difficulty grasping our religion, but you seem to be perceptive so I
am sure you will catch on in time.

Finally, you seem to be focused on the issue of human
perversity. The Baha'i writings, owing to their universality, also
focus on this issue in regards to mankind in general (and not
individuals). I recommend that you focus on this rather than trying
to manufacture occasions of perversity in saintly people.

to continue...

'Abdu'l-Baha extensively defends Muhammad's holy wars in
_Some Answered Questions_. He says, for instance, that Christ would
have acted in the same manner in Muhammad's situation. He also says,
however, that holy war was justified for the _protection_ of Islam.

I would add personally that unlike Christianity, Islam became
powerful very soon after its inception, becoming something of an
empire. While this accomplishment certainly has its advantages, it
also means that unlike Christianity, which existed in persecution for
300 years, Islam also acquired a great deal of "dead weight" in its
early stages due to its ascendancy. As such, depsite Islam's
vitality, the acts Muslims might have deviated from the wishes of
Muhammad very early.

Thus I would suggest that 'Abdu'l-Baha did not criticize
jihad itself but the way it was practiced.

Of course, 'Abdu'l-Baha also believed that Muhammad's
teachings were rightly abrogated at this time.

I regret that I do not have time to examine your references.

>CHINA
...


>True. Abdu'l-Baha's _intent_ was not to degrade the Chinese.
>It just so happens that he degraded them along the way:
> "It is certain that the people of China are, in the sight of
> God, among the most rejected of men."
>
>I don't think that Abdu'l-Baha disliked the Chinese. Perhaps he was
>using this manner of speach to speak to the Shah's prejudices.
>Nevertheless, he _did_ degrade them. Granted, he degraded them
>in religious terms; at least he didn't insult their intelligence or
>humanity.

From a theological standpoint 'Abdu'l-Baha's argument is also
true. The religion of China is very ancient. From a certain
standpoint this is a spiritual weakness. Again you are overlooking
'Abdu'l-Baha's capacity to look at the same issue from various
perspectives. Here he explaining the meaning of the hadith that we
should seek knowledge "EVEN unto China".

'Abdu'l-Baha is well aware of the shortcomings of every
nation, but usually does not focus on these because his mission is a
mission of love. Here however, he is explaining an Islamic hadith
which itself simultaneously criticizes and praises China.

'Abdu'l-Baha was saying that if Muhammad acknowledged the
value of China despite its non-acceptance of so many religions, then
how can Muslims not acknowledge the value of Western learning on the
grounds that the West consists of Christians who have not accepted
Islam.
'Abdu'l-Baha actually had a very high opinion of the Chinese
as is demonstrated in his other writings.

>ALEXANDER THE GREAT


>
>I don't think Abdu'l-Baha's allegorical interpretation of
>"Alexander" to be "Ali" (a very Shi'ah interpretation) should be
>used as evidence in this context, since my very point is to focus on
>his disagreement with the Qur'an on Alexander.

I do not mean to put words into people's mouths, but I
believe Mr. Hakim was saying that the Qur'an does NOT make reference
to Alexander the Great but instead refers to Zulqarnian.

Regards,
Matt


Dr Steve Burgess

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May 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/10/96
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Re: William Cassady posting

Dear Mr Cassady

Thank you for stating the intention of your essay and for introducing more
clearly your arguments about SODC by Abdu'l Baha. I know that Kamran will
probably reply but perhaps I can also make a contribution.

You note that the purpose of your posting is to highlight a perceived
difference between Abdu'l Baha's suggestions to the Shah and what his Father
had revealed:

"My brutishly cynical tones are not intended to object to that purpose, but


to point out that Abdu'l-Baha's suggestions were not necessarily in line

with his father's (sic) teachings."

You then address the issue of Jihad (Holy War)and point out that: (1) Jihad
is a fundamental doctrine of Islam, (2) That Abdu'l Baha argues against
Jihad and thus against Islam
and (3) that Muslims would consider Abdu'l Baha's statement to be
criticising Islam and thus that he was making a heretical statement. You
ask why he would do that and suggest that His argument may have been flawed
or designed to appeal to the Shah's pro-modern or Iranian sentiments.

First, I would note that many Muslims would consider anyone who advanced the
Cause of Baha-u-llah to be a heretic. However, your main point is that
Abdu'l Baha is taking a position contrary to his Father. This appears to be
inaccurate:

O people of the earth!
The first Glad-Tidings which the Mother Book hath, in this Most
Great Revelation, imparted unto all the peoples of the world is that the law

of holy war hath been blotted out from the Book. Glorified be the
All-Merciful, the Lord of grace abounding, through Whom the door of heavenly


bounty hath been flung open in the face of all that are in heaven and on earth.

(Baha'u'llah: Tablets of Baha'u'llah, page 21)

In former religions such ordinances as holy war, destruction of books, the
ban on association and companionship with other peoples or on reading
certain books had been laid down and affirmed according to the exigencies of
the time; however, in this mighty Revelation, in this momentous
Announcement, the manifold bestowals and favours of God have overshadowed
all men, and from the horizon of the Will of the Ever-Abiding Lord, His
infallible decree hath prescribed that which We have set forth above.
(Baha'u'llah: Tablets of Baha'u'llah, page 28)

You next make the point that Abdu'l Baha degrades the Chinese, if not by
design then by practice. You quote the statement from SODC:


>
> "It is certain that the people of China are, in the sight of God,
> among the most rejected of men."
>

I share the point you make that Abdu'l Baha did not dislike the Chinese and
that he did not insult their intelligence or humanity.

I ask you not to think only of yourselves. Be kind to the strangers,
whether come they from Turkey, Japan, Persia, Russia, China or any other
country in the world.
(`Abdu'l-Baha: Paris Talks*, page 15)

While it is too long to again place on the Net, Abdu'l Baha is assuring the
Shah that it would be acceptable to borrow wisdom from any people on the
Earth. The "they" in the quote refers to those who would criticise such
behaviour:

Have they forgotten the celebrated hadith (Holy Tradition): "Seek after
knowledge, even unto China"? It is certain that the people of China were,
in the sight of God, among the most rejected of men, because they worshipped
idols and were unmindful of the omniscient Lord.
(`Abdu'l-Baha: Secret of Divine Civilization, page 26)

I don't think Abdu'l-Baha degrades the Chinese but rather attempts to remind
the Shah of a well-known and oft-cited hadith at the time and to explain his
argument in this light.

You then go on to point out that "Alexander the Great was no friend of


ancient Iran. Ancient Iran was a great civilization, and Alexander laid

much of it to waste...(and then point out that) My point is that the Qur'an


liked Alexander, and Abdu'l-Baha didn't - but what patriotic Iranian should
like Alexander? I don't blame Abdu'l-Baha for this."

I'm sorry that I have trouble following your thoughts here. Abdu'l Baha is
clearly referring to the dismal failure of many civilizations which were
spread through war. He doesn't single out Alexander and there is no sense
of like or dislike of Alexander expressed by Abdu'l Baha here or anywhere
else that can find.

Consider how throughout history many a king has sat on his throne as a
conqueror. Among them were Hulagu Khan and Tamerlane, who took over the
vast continent of Asia, and Alexander of Macedon and Napoleon I, who
stretched their arrogant fists over three of the earth's five continents.
And what was gained by all their mighty victories? Was any country made to
flourish, did any happiness result, did any throne stand? Or was it rather
that those reigning houses lost their power? Except that Asia went up in
the flame of many battles and fell away to ashes, Changiz's Hulagu, the
warlord, gathered no fruit from all his conquests. And Tamerlane, out of all
his triumphs, reaped only the peoples blown to the winds, and universal
ruin. And Alexander had nothing to show for his vast victories, except that
his son toppled from the throne and Philip and Ptolemy took over the
dominions he once had ruled. And what did the first Napoleon gain from
subjugating the kings of Europe, except the destruction of flourishing
countries, the downfall of their inhabitants, the spreading of terror and
anguish across Europe and, at the end of his days, his own captivity? So
much for the conquerors and the monuments they leave behind them.
(`Abdu'l-Baha: Secret of Divine Civilization, pages 67-68)

Finally, you make the point that you don't think Abdu'l-Baha's allegorical


interpretation of "Alexander" to be "Ali" (a very Shi'ah interpretation)

should be used as evidence in this context, since your very point is to


focus on his disagreement with the Qur'an on Alexander.

I can find no authoritative reference that links the reference to
Dhoulkarnain (the two-horned) in the Sura of The Cave to Alexander the
Great--although this is an interpretation I have heard before. I am no
expert on Islam but when I have read the Sura in the past (and again quickly
now) I noted that Dhoulkarnain is given almost magical power to help a
poorly educated people survive the forces of the infidels Gog and Magog who
waste their land. He then helps them build a wall of iron between two
mountains and then asks them to fire up their bellows so that he can pour
molten brass over the iron and the wall keeps out the infidels.

I know that this wall is popularly thought by many to have been a
ramification built near the Caspian Sea by Alexander. However, I see a very
figurative story here from which I learned. There is a certain feeling of
Dhoulkarnain as a power that swept out idolatry and impiety in the East and
West. I don't get the feeling that this is a blanket endorsement of
Alexander who is often characterised for his devastation of the lands he
conquered. And again, I see nothing in Abdu'l Baha's Writings which
communicate a dislike of Alexander or a comparison of him to Ali.

I hope this adds something to the discussion.

God bless!
Steve


Michael R. Moum

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May 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/11/96
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Matthew P Menge <mme...@gac.edu> wrote:
>In response to William Cassidy's post...
>3. Concerning the condemnation of kings and clergy.
>
> Baha'u'llah believed (I presume) that both rulers and
>clergy-men had exceptional moral responsibility.

The faults of kings, like their favours, can be great.
(Baha'u'llah: Tablets of Baha'u'llah, page 65)

Michael Moum

Matthew P Menge

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May 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/11/96
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William Cassidy writes...

>However, Abdu'l-Baha goes far beyond anonymity and a few sweet words. He
>lists, in detail, the accomplishments of the Shah. Yet still, perhaps he
>was just piling on the false praise higher and higher. Perhaps Mr. Hakim
>is correct, but if Mr. Hakim is correct, then it must be accepted that
>Abdu'l-Baha accepted and utilized false praise as a literary mechanism.

'Abdu'l-Baha does not "dislike" the Shah. He was aware of
both the Shah's good points and bad ones. A more extensive study of
'Abdu'l-Baha's life clearly indicate that he does not let petty
feelings disrupt him from his intended purpose, which is the
edification of mankind.
Yes, 'Abdu'l-Baha criticizes the Shah at points and praises
him at other points and in each of these occasions he was
accomplishing a specific purpose and on each of these occasions I
find his assessment to be quite correct.


Regards,
Matt


Shamim Razavi

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May 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/11/96
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> My original point was: regardless of Abdu'l-Baha's purpose in writing
> SODC, he makes it clear that he has a high opinion of the Shah. Mr.
> Hakim has countered my argument by showing that Abdu'l-Baha was
> counselling the Shah:
>
<cut>

>
> In other words, Mr. Hakim is suggesting that Abdu'l-Baha is only posing as
> a supporter so that the Shah will listen to him. He thus conceals his
> identity so that the Shah will give him a fair reading. That seems like a
> defensible hypothesis.
>
> However, Abdu'l-Baha goes far beyond anonymity and a few sweet words. He
> lists, in detail, the accomplishments of the Shah. Yet still, perhaps he
> was just piling on the false praise higher and higher. Perhaps Mr. Hakim
> is correct, but if Mr. Hakim is correct, then it must be accepted that
> Abdu'l-Baha accepted and utilized false praise as a literary mechanism.
>
Perhaps 'Abdu'l-Baha was exercising a sin-covering eye.

> 2) Abdu'l-Baha's authority to interpret Baha'u'llah licenses him to
> defy logic. For example, when Baha'u'llah explicitly permits
> bigamy, Abdu'l-Baha can interpret Baha'u'llah to have intended
> to forbid bigamy. That is not interpretation; that is
> alteration.

Actually, bigamy is possible if it were possible to show complete justice
to both wives, as Baha'u'llah's law states. 'Abdu'l-Baha was correlating
these two teachings, not altering them. By stating that bigamy is not
possible logically, he was merely explaining and correlating. Not altering.


> Regarding bribery, Mr. Hakim has fallen into the common trap,
> so frequented by Baha'is, of offering up a contradictory
> passage to nullify a problematic passage. What of the
> passage which I quoted, wherein Abdu'l-Baha backslides into
> defending one form of bribery against another? Does the fact
> that he criticizes bribery on one page counter-balance his
> condoning bribery on another page, or is he just
> contradicting himself and betraying his upbringing in the
> process? I would appreciate some discussion, and not just a
> pasting of quotations and redundant accusations (of willful
> omission).

To go back to the quote from 'Abdu'l-Baha, he says:

"Where in the past, if a poor man wanted his rights he had only to offer

a gift to one individual, now he would either have to renounce all hope
of justice or else satisfy the entire membership"

Now, one way to look at this is that 'Abdu'l-Baha is not condoning
bribery, but pointing out the injustice inherent within it, and how that
injustice has been heightened for the poor. He is comparing two
unfavourable situations and pointing out that one is indeed worse than
the other, but that both are bad. He is not suggesting a reversion to
non-parliamentary government, for, in your own words William, you say:


"The author encourages the establishment of a parliament, though he

mentions that parliamentary rule has its disadvantages"
'Abdu'l-Baha is trying to change the system's disadvantages within the
parliamentary framework, agreed?
In the pursuit of this goal, do you think He is, in light of
'Abdul-Baha's outspoken condemnation of bribery, advocating some system
within parlaiment whereby the same amount of bribe as before would be
offered by each individual seeking rights but would then be distributed
equally amongst all the members of parliament, thus removing the need for
multiple bribes?
Or is He advocating an abondonment of bribery?
This is why it is important to look at 'Abdu'l-Baha's other words on(and
His own practice of) this matter:


"If bribery and corruption, known today by the pleasant names of gifts

and favours, were forever excluded, would this threaten the foundations
of justice?" (Secret of Divine Civilsation, page 15)

You said:

'The following question stands:

How could Baha'u'llah's curse on the Shah be said to have been effective
when the Shah reigned confidently for 50 lunar years, outliving

Baha'u'llah himself?'

Ask Joe Public, and he will probably reply: "Nasir'i'Din-who?". If you
identify him as a Shah of what is now Iran , percieved to be the land of
Islamic Fundamenatlism and home of terrorism, that is hardly going to be
the most noble of accolades to J. Public.
The chances are, however, that Joe Public will have heard of Baha'u'llah
and the Baha'i Faith. Indeed, 6 million people now, 150 years after His
death, identify themselves as followers of Baha'u'llah. And as for
Nasir'i'Din Shah, he is remembered only as a footnote to that religion,
famous for his persecution of the Bahais and is discussed only by about 3
people on some obscure newsgroup! Hardly a fitting memorial!


Dr Steve Burgess

unread,
May 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/12/96
to

Dear Mr Cassady

You said "Why can't the Baha'i writings just say what they mean, rather


than heaping obscurity upon paradox upon mystery? I am far too simple a man
to understand your religion."

I must admit, I too felt a bit overwhelmed until I had the opportunity to be
exposed to a representative sample of the Baha'i Writings and it took me
years to form a more complete understanding. I thank God I was able to take
the leap of faith that I did in following my heart to declare my belief in
Baha-u-llah.

The Writings are very clear and I think you are patently unfair to make a
statement concerning "heaping obscurity upon paradox upon mystery." Without
wishing to detract from their Divine origin, the depth and breadth of the
Baha'i Writings dwarfs the Holy Writings that form the basis of Judaism,
Christianity or Islam.

Indeed, what religion can claim to have the Revealed Word of its Revealer,
in His own handwriting and that of His secretary or to have such a wide
literature of over 100 volumes. In addition, where it was not so already,
the Sole Interpreter and Guardian expanded, codified and put Baha'u'llah's
Writings into practical context for many situations in modern life.

Finally, Baha'u'llah left His Covenant and Institutions to provide structure
and to answer the needs of life for at least the next 1000 years. Many
issues are left to the Universal House of Justice because of the fast-paced
change of civilisation.

>Mr. Hakim has credited me with "scholastic peek-a-boo". Let me remind
>the reader that Abdu'l-Baha wrote SODC anonymously. I would be taking
>that credit falsely if I didn't defer the credit for Mr. Hakim's
>"scholastic peek-a-boo" to Abdu'l-Baha himself.

Certainly, it would be fair to note that you have not presented the actual
text from the Baha'i literature to support the claims you have made.
Personally, I think most reasonable people would also find it hard to
understand how you arrived at your conclusions on examination of the
quotations to which you refer in the context in which they appear in the
original text.

It seems that the reason Abdu'l Baha cites for writing anonymously has been
lost on this thread. Nothing is inconsistent with His Father's laws
concerning the relationship between the individual and the State:

"As is clear to the discerning, the writer has for this reason felt it
necessary to put down, for the sake of God alone and as a tribute to this
high endeavor, a brief statement on certain urgent questions. To
demonstrate that His one purpose is to promote the general welfare, He has
withheld His name. Since He believes that guidance toward righteousness is

in itself a righteous act, He offers these few words of counsel to His
country's sons, words spoken for God's sake alone and in the spirit of a
faithful friend. Our Lord, Who knows all things, bears witness that this


Servant seeks nothing but what is right and good; for He, a wanderer in the
desert of God's love, has come into a realm where the hand of denial or
assent, of praise or blame, can touch Him not. 'We nourish your souls for

the sake of God; We seek from you neither recompense nor thanks.'"
(`Abdu'l-Baha: Secret of Divine Civilization, pages 5-6)

>-My original point was: regardless of Abdu'l-Baha's purpose in writing


>SODC, he makes it clear that he has a high opinion of the Shah. Mr.
>Hakim has countered my argument by showing that Abdu'l-Baha was
>counselling the Shah:
>

>In other words, Mr. Hakim is suggesting that Abdu'l-Baha is only posing as
>a supporter so that the Shah will listen to him. He thus conceals his
identity so >that the Shah will give him a fair reading. That seems like a
defensible >hypothesis.
>
>However, Abdu'l-Baha goes far beyond anonymity and a few sweet words. He
>lists, in detail, the accomplishments of the Shah. Yet still, perhaps he
>was just piling on the false praise higher and higher. Perhaps Mr. Hakim
>is correct, but if Mr. Hakim is correct, then it must be accepted that
>Abdu'l-Baha accepted and utilized false praise as a literary mechanism.

IMHO, the latter two paragraphs suggest the writer is less interested with
accurately reflecting what Mr Hakim said than in building up a straw man
which can then be knocked down. Mr Hakim does not suggest that Abdu'l Baha
concealed His identity for any reason except to appeal to the Shah and other
decision makers in his court for the reason which Abdu'l Baha gave which is
quoted above.

It was the sweet and beautiful nature of Abdu'l Baha to cite the positive
aspects of a person and to ignore the negative aspects. It would entirely
inconsistent with the loving nature of his personality to have written
anything in anger or to have presented a critical, unbalanced viewpoint.

Perhaps the words of Abdu'l Baha can shed some light on this discussion:

"One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise.
When this is done, one can be a friend to the whole human race. If,
however, we look at people from the standpoint of their faults, then being a
friend to them is a formidable task.
It happened one day in the time of Christ - may the life of the world
be a sacrifice unto Him - that He passed by the dead body of a dog, a
carcass reeking, hideous, the limbs rotting away. One of those present
said: `How foul its stench!' And another said: `How sickening! How
loathsome!' To be brief, each one of them had something to add to the list.
But then Christ Himself spoke, and He told them: `Look at that dog's
teeth! How gleaming white!'
The Messiah's sin-covering gaze did not for a moment dwell upon the
repulsiveness of that carrion. The one element of that dead dog's carcass
which was not abomination was the teeth: and Jesus looked upon their
brightness.
Thus is it incumbent upon us, when we direct our gaze toward other
people, to see where they excel, not where they fail.
Praise be to God, thy goal is to promote the well-being of humankind
and to help the souls to overcome their faults. This good intention will
produce laudable results."
(`Abdu'l-Baha: Selections ... `Abdu'l-Baha, page 169)

>The logic of Baha'i scholars escapes me.
>
>1) Anything can be completely redefined; you only have to call it a
> metaphor. An example is Abdu'l-Baha's alleged redefinition of
> Alexander in the Qur'an to Ali. How can this be described as an
> interpretation of metaphor? It is clearly a simple alteration
> of content used to defend Shi'ah doctrine, as there was no
> parable, allegaory, or metaphor involved.

Perhaps the issue here is that Baha'is differentiate between authoritative
interpretations and the individual's interpretation. The individuals who
respond to your questions do so at the sacrifice of their personal time,
usually amidst busy schedules, in order to share their understanding of the
Revelation of Baha'u'llah to help you define your own. None, including me,
have the right to claim an authoritative position.

"The existence of authoritative interpretations does not preclude the
individual from engaging in the study of the Teachings and thereby arriving
at a personal interpretation or understanding. A clear distinction is,
however, drawn in the Baha'i Writings between authoritative interpretation
and the understanding that each individual arrives at from a study of its
Teachings. Individual interpretations based on a person's understanding of
the Teachings constitute the fruit of man's rational power and may well
contribute to a greater comprehension of the Faith. Such views,
nevertheless, lack authority. In presenting their personal ideas,
individuals are cautioned not to discard the authority of the revealed
words, not to deny or contend with the authoritative interpretation, and not
to engage in controversy; rather they should offer their thoughts as a
contribution to knowledge, making it clear that their views are merely their
own."
(Baha'u'llah: Aqdas: Notes, pages 221-222)

I would urge you to produce the text in which Abdu'l Baha allegedly
redefines Alexander in the Koran as Ali. There is nothing of which I am
aware that would substantiate this point of view. Indeed, the reference in
the Sura of the Cave is to Dhoulkarnain and, while it may be popular to
attribute this to Alexander, there is nothing from the Prophet that
authoritatively links this to Alexander. We should also note that there is
no reference to a Koranic passage concerning Alexander in SODC. Alexander
is referred to only as one of many conquerors who failed to build a lasting
civilisation through the use of violence.

>2) Abdu'l-Baha's authority to interpret Baha'u'llah licenses him to
> defy logic. For example, when Baha'u'llah explicitly permits
> bigamy, Abdu'l-Baha can interpret Baha'u'llah to have intended
> to forbid bigamy. That is not interpretation; that is
> alteration.

Your point ignores Abdu'l Baha's responsibility as the Sole Interpreter of
the Holy Writings. If you asked me how long it takes to cross a very bad
area of town according to a very dangerous route, should I answer the
question directly or share my knowledge of an alternative route? If I love
you? How can Abdu'l Baha interpret the passage concerning two wives unless
He also incorporates the provision of Justice to which Baha'u'llah give such
importance?

O SON OF SPIRIT! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn
not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may
confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not
through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not
through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it
behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My
loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.
(Baha'u'llah: Arabic Hidden Words, page 2)

Perhaps this passage will reflect a full understanding of the Baha'i viewpoint:

>From the Aqdas:
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. Baha'u'llah

>From the Notes to the Aqdas:
While the text of the Kitab-i-Aqdas appears to permit bigamy, Baha'u'llah
counsels that tranquillity and contentment derive from monogamy. In another
Tablet, He underlines the importance of the individual's acting in such a
way as to "bring comfort to himself and to his partner". Abdu'l-Baha, the
authorized Interpreter of the Baha'i Writings, states that in the text of
the Aqdas monogamy is in effect enjoined. He elaborates this theme in a
number of Tablets, including the following:
Know thou that polygamy is not permitted under the law of
God, for contentment with one wife hath been clearly stipulated.
Taking a second wife is made dependent upon equity and justice
being upheld between the two wives, under all conditions.
However, observance of justice and equity towards two wives is
utterly impossible. The fact that bigamy has been made
dependent upon an impossible condition is clear proof of its
absolute prohibition. Therefore it is not permissible for a man to
have more than one wife.

Polygamy is a very ancient practice among the majority of humanity.
The introduction of monogamy has been only gradually accomplished by the
Manifestations of God. Jesus, for example, did not prohibit polygamy, but
abolished divorce except in the case of fornication; Muhammad limited the
number of wives to four, but making plurality of wives contingent on
justice, and reintroducing permission for divorce; Baha'u'llah, Who was
revealing His Teachings in the milieu of a Muslim society, introduced the
question of monogamy gradually in accordance with the principles of wisdom
and the progressive unfoldment of His purpose. The fact that He left His
followers with an infallible Interpreter of His Writings enabled Him to
outwardly permit two wives in the Kitab-i-Aqdas but uphold a condition that
enabled Abdu'l-Baha to elucidate later that the intention of the law was to
enforce monogamy.
(Baha'u'llah: Aqdas: Notes, pages 205-206)


>3) When a problematic passage is encountered, it is sufficient
> to quote another passage from scripture which contradicts it.
> Sometimes, as Mr. Hakim has demonstrated in addressing the
> "11 reforms", not even contradiction is necessary, but only
> a distracting irrelevancy.

There seems to be a bit of miscommunication here. You fail to note the
point that Mr Hakim and others have made and which I make above. The fact
that Abdu'l Baha is capable of seeing the shortcomings of the Shah does not
mean he cannot cite what the Shah's accomplishments. Certainly, I have
provided the Writings you seek.


>
>4) Now, according to Mr. Hakim, Abdu'l-Baha has established that
> he poses as a Muslim and praises the reader just to butter
> him up? How often, then, has Abdu'l-Baha used this device in
> other works? Mr. Hakim, by the way, uses this mechanism on
> me by speaking well of me although he accuses me of willful
> omission of materials. Perhaps this double-talk is just an
> Iranian tradition?

Here is that straw man again! As you know, the Baha'is consider themselves
to be Muslims in the sense that they submit to the Will of God. However, at
no point does Abdu'l Baha attempt to mislead the Shah into thinking he is
not a follower of Baha'u'llah. He does allude to being a son of Persia. He
was and is.

>Regarding bribery, Mr. Hakim has fallen into the common trap,
>so frequented by Baha'is, of offering up a contradictory
>passage to nullify a problematic passage. What of the
>passage which I quoted, wherein Abdu'l-Baha backslides into
>defending one form of bribery against another? Does the fact
>that he criticizes bribery on one page counter-balance his
>condoning bribery on another page, or is he just
>contradicting himself and betraying his upbringing in the
>process? I would appreciate some discussion, and not just a
>pasting of quotations and redundant accusations (of willful
>omission).

This has been answered in another posting on the Net which I have read
today. I am in agreement with what I read there. Abdu'l Baha repeatedly
criticised bribery and the passage you cite does not in any way condone the
practice.

>The only source of opinion on the Shah's life and death that Mr. Hakim
offers is Shoghi Effendi - just about the least unbiased source imaginable.
>
>Strange that many western accounts speak well of Nasir'u'd-Din Shah, but
how can I >think well of him knowing how he persecuted the Babis and
Baha'is? I cannot. I >tend to think, however, that the Baha'is would have

been persecuted horribly no >matter who occupied the throne. I could be wrong.


>
>The following question stands:
>
> How could Baha'u'llah's curse on the Shah be said to have been effective
when >the Shah reigned confidently for 50 lunar years, outliving Baha'u'llah
himself?

Your interpretation of history differs from mine. Nasir'u'd-Din Shah was
assassinated by Siyyid Jamalu'd-Din-i-Afghani, an avowed enemy of the
Baha'i Faith. He did not resign. Most of what I have read portrays him as
a weak, vacillating and ineffectual leader who sold out the Persian peoples'
interests to the Europeans for his own personal gain. He ascended to the
throne as a child and it would be misleading to say he actually ruled for
the entire 48 years of his rule.

"During the reign of Nasr al-Din, b. July 17, 1831, d. May 1, 1896, Iran's
shah (emperor) between 1848 and 1896, well-intentioned but fumbling attempts
were made to introduce selective elements of modern Western civilization
into Iran to preserve its unity and to protect it against Russian or British
imperial schemes. Nasr al-Din succeeded his father, Muhammad Shah (1810-48;
r. 1834-48). Initially, he relied on his chief minister, Mirza Taki Khan
(d. 1852), who first crushed internal rebellions and then tried to
invigorate the shah's government by introducing Western-style schools,
military methods, communications (including newspapers and telegraph and
postal systems), and economic development projects. These changes
infuriated conservatives, however. Later the new mercantile class became
disaffected when the shah sold to foreign developers the management rights
to key economic activities and pocketed the proceeds. Nasr al-Din Shah was
assassinated; he was succeeded by his son Muzaffar al-Din (1853-1907; r.
1896-1904). The Grolier Multimedia Encyclopaedia, Version 7.02, 1995.

"In Persia, too, the rise of the new Qajar dynasty (1794-1925) led to
increasing European involvement that eventually brought the country to a
state of economic submission to Russian and British interests. In 1905 a
Persian revolution broke out, directed at the elimination of foreign
interests and control and against the shah's chief minister who was held
responsible."
The Grolier Multimedia Encyclopaedia, Version 7.02, 1995.

I hope this answers your questions to your satisfaction. God bless.


Steve


Ahmad Farid

unread,
May 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/13/96
to

William Cassady (wcas...@zrocks.wr.usgs.gov) wrote:

As-Salamo Alaikum,

: JIHAD

: It is certain that Jihad is a fundamental doctrine of Islam. No


: hadith is necessary to know that. The Qur'an makes it clear.

: But look at Abdu'l-Baha's words. You will find that they argue


: against Jihad. But Mr. Hakim points out the following:

I have been told by Bahais that the Bahai faith does not abrogate Jihad,
but Holy War. The Holy Qur'an does NOT use the words "Holy War", and
Jihad simply means to struggle.

The term jihad is divided into two, the lesser and greater jihad. The
greater jihad refers to ones personal struggle to achieve high moral
values.

The lesser jihad refers to actually fighting a war in defense of the weak
and oppressed or in self-defense. Islam does not condone one being the
agressor nor is one allowed to transgress.

: Mr. Hakim, what do you think a Muslim would have thought of


: Abdu'l-Baha's analysis of Jihad? My guess is that Abdu'l-Baha's
: words would appear heretical. Why did he argue that Jihad was
: a flawed policy _to_begin_with_?

If he did, then being a Bahai, he should have realized that Jihad could not
have been a flawed policy, unless Bahais believe in a God who is flawed,
which I don't believe they do.

I too am greatly confused by the Bahai stance on Jihad. I see no problem
with the Islamic Jihad, which greatly emphasizes ones struggle to achieve
high moral qualities and also teaches to fight for ones rights and others
who can not defend themselves from opression. It also teaches never to
be the agressor and even if one must fight, one is never to transgress.

Why did God have to abrogate this teaching ?
What teaching does the Bahai faith have which replaces this teaching ?

: Let me grant you this: Abdu'l-Baha may have been paving the
: way for acceptance of Baha'u'llah's abrogation of Jihad.


: Still, he managed to demonstrate that Jihad was ineffective
: for the early Muslims. This would lead me to conclude that
: he was criticizing Islam. But of course Abdu'l-Baha would
: never do that. Why, then, did he so criticize Jihad?

This is exactly my feeling of the entire Bahai faith, outside it claims
to love Islam and accept it as a valid religion, but many times I find
Islam is back stabbed.

: Perhaps it was just a flawed argument?

Well if Islam is a true religion, the argument is definitley flawed. For
how could God reveal a flawed teaching ?

Was-Salam
Audil Virk (my opinions)


Darren Hiebert

unread,
May 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/14/96
to

Speaking of `Abdu'l-Baha, William Cassady wrote:

> He glorifies Persian monarchs of antiquity, while revealing a
> typically Persian ethnic hatred of Alexander the Great [15], who the

> author seems to have forgotten was...exalted to the status of an Apostle


> of God in the Qur'an [17].

>...


> 15. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 67-69

> 17. Sura of the Cave, 83-98 (Dawood)

The origin of the popular idea that Dhu-l-qarnain, referred to in Qur'an
18:83-98, is Alexander the Great is not one supported by scholarship.

In my possession are two copies of the Qur'an, translated, repectively, by
`Abdullah Yusef `Ali and Maulana Muhammad Ali. Both are accompanied by
copious translators notes. Though, in the latter, verses 83-98 are
accompanied by the equivalent of three pages of notes in small print, not
one mention is made of Alexander the Great. Rather, the note attached to
verse 83 reads as follows:

"The reference in the Qur'an in the history of Dhu-l-qarnain is to
Darius I." [1]

Yusef Ali's translation, long a standard of the English speaking Muslim
community and sold prominently in Islamic centers, contains this note for
that same verse:

"Who was he? In what age, and where did he live? The Qur'an gives us
no material on which we can base a positive answer.... Popular opinion
identifies Dhu al Qarnayn with Alexander the Great. An alternative
suggestion is an ancient Persian King, or a prehistoric Himyarite
King." [2]

So there seems to be no real evidence to support Mr. Cassidy's assertion
that Alexander the Great is praised in the Qur'an, that `Abdu'l-Baha was
criticizing an Apostle of God, or that Alexander the Great was not your
typical conquering tyrant.


NOTES:

1. "Holy Qur'an", trans. Maulana Muhammad Ali; p. 587, n. 1517 for verse
18:83.
2. "The Meaning of the Glorious Qur'an", trans. `Abdullah Yusef Ali; p. 731,
n. 2428 for verse 18:83.

--
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Darren Hiebert "Two wrongs don't make a right,
dar...@hiwaay.net but three rights make a left"
----------------------------------------------------------------------------


Darren Hiebert

unread,
May 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/14/96
to

William Cassady <wcas...@zrocks.wr.usgs.gov> wrote:

> CHINA


>
> True. Abdu'l-Baha's _intent_ was not to degrade the Chinese.
> It just so happens that he degraded them along the way:
>

> "It is certain that the people of China are, in the sight of God,
> among the most rejected of men."
>

> I don't think that Abdu'l-Baha disliked the Chinese. Perhaps he was
> using this manner of speach to speak to the Shah's prejudices.
> Nevertheless, he _did_ degrade them. Granted, he degraded them

> in religious terms; at least he didn't insult their intelligence or
> humanity.

I must disagree with you here. My reading of this passage is that
`Abdu'l-Baha is saying that God sees the Chinese as the most rejected of
(by) men. How exactly is stating that the Chinese and their culture were
rejected by their fellow human beings in any way degrading them as a people?

If you disagree with my reading, then perhaps you could translate the intent
of the following passage, which is taken as a prophecy of Christ:

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted
with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised,
and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:3)

Abir Majid

unread,
May 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/15/96
to

Ahmad Farid (or is it Audil Virk ?)<3f...@qlink.queensu.ca> wrote:
>William Cassady (wcas...@zrocks.wr.usgs.gov) wrote:
>
>As-Salamo Alaikum,
>
>: JIHAD
>
>: It is certain that Jihad is a fundamental doctrine of Islam. No
>: hadith is necessary to know that. The Qur'an makes it clear.
>: But look at Abdu'l-Baha's words. You will find that they argue
>: against Jihad. But Mr. Hakim points out the following:
>
>I have been told by Bahais that the Bahai faith does not abrogate Jihad,
>but Holy War. The Holy Qur'an does NOT use the words "Holy War", and
>Jihad simply means to struggle.

That's correct, jihad means struggle but the word has also been used
to refer to holy war, so it all depends on which use of the word is
meant here. In all cases, it's holy war that is abrogated in the
Baha'i Faith.


>
>The term jihad is divided into two, the lesser and greater jihad. The
>greater jihad refers to ones personal struggle to achieve high moral
>values.
>

All religions and certainly the Baha'i Faith encourage all people
to struggle to achieve higher moral values.

>The lesser jihad refers to actually fighting a war in defense of the weak
>and oppressed or in self-defense. Islam does not condone one being the
>agressor nor is one allowed to transgress.
>
>: Mr. Hakim, what do you think a Muslim would have thought of
>: Abdu'l-Baha's analysis of Jihad? My guess is that Abdu'l-Baha's
>: words would appear heretical. Why did he argue that Jihad was
>: a flawed policy _to_begin_with_?
>
>If he did, then being a Bahai, he should have realized that Jihad could not
>have been a flawed policy, unless Bahais believe in a God who is flawed,
>which I don't believe they do.

I'm glad you give us that much credit.

>
>I too am greatly confused by the Bahai stance on Jihad. I see no problem
>with the Islamic Jihad, which greatly emphasizes ones struggle to achieve
>high moral qualities and also teaches to fight for ones rights and others
>who can not defend themselves from opression. It also teaches never to
>be the agressor and even if one must fight, one is never to transgress.
>
>Why did God have to abrogate this teaching ?

Again, it depends on which definition of the word is used. God in
this new dispensation has only abrogated the waging of wars in the
name of religion.

>What teaching does the Bahai faith have which replaces this teaching ?
>

We probably can use the term "collective security" to describe this.
If a nation invades another or infringes on the rights of another
and persists in its aggression, then all other nations, should
unitedly *force* the aggressor to desist.

>: Let me grant you this: Abdu'l-Baha may have been paving the
>: way for acceptance of Baha'u'llah's abrogation of Jihad.
>: Still, he managed to demonstrate that Jihad was ineffective
>: for the early Muslims. This would lead me to conclude that
>: he was criticizing Islam. But of course Abdu'l-Baha would
>: never do that. Why, then, did he so criticize Jihad?
>
>This is exactly my feeling of the entire Bahai faith, outside it claims
>to love Islam and accept it as a valid religion, but many times I find
>Islam is back stabbed.
>

This accusation needs to be substantiated with facts dear friend. Anybody
these days seems to be able to say anything. "back stabbed" is a very
strong term, so when and how?

>: Perhaps it was just a flawed argument?
>
>Well if Islam is a true religion, the argument is definitley flawed. For
>how could God reveal a flawed teaching ?
>

Islam IS a true religion and nothing in Islam is flawed. Different
religions however have different social teachings and laws that have
always been appropriate for the times and the people they were
revealed for.

>Was-Salam
>Audil Virk (my opinions)
>

Abir Majid

Darren Hiebert

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May 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/15/96
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Ahmad Farid <3f...@qlink.queensu.ca> wrote:

> William Cassady (wcas...@zrocks.wr.usgs.gov) wrote:
> : Let me grant you this: Abdu'l-Baha may have been paving the
> : way for acceptance of Baha'u'llah's abrogation of Jihad.
> : Still, he managed to demonstrate that Jihad was ineffective
> : for the early Muslims. This would lead me to conclude that
> : he was criticizing Islam. But of course Abdu'l-Baha would
> : never do that. Why, then, did he so criticize Jihad?
>

> : Perhaps it was just a flawed argument?
>
> Well if Islam is a true religion, the argument is definitley flawed. For
> how could God reveal a flawed teaching ?

In providing an answer to this question, let us remember the teaching Jesus
gave regarding divorce:

Matthew 19:7-9

They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of
divorcement, and to put her away?
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts
suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not
so.
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be
for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso
marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

One could raise the same standard of complaint here. Though I am aware that
Islam typically does not accept the New Testment as reliably conveying the
Teachings of Jesus, I provide this to demonstrate a principle.

Baha'u'llah, Himself, has explained the answer to your question:


The Prophets of God should be regarded as physicians whose task is
to foster the well-being of the world and its peoples, that, through the
spirit of oneness, they may heal the sickness of a divided humanity. To
none is given the right to question their words or disparage their
conduct, for they are the only ones who can claim to have understood the
patient and to have correctly diagnosed its ailments. No man, however
acute his perception, can ever hope to reach the heights which the
wisdom and understanding of the Divine Physician have attained. Little
~~~~~~
wonder, then, if the treatment prescribed by the physician in this day
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
should not be found to be identical with that which he prescribed
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
before. How could it be otherwise when the ills affecting the sufferer
~~~~~~
necessitate at every stage of his sickness a special remedy? In like
manner, every time the Prophets of God have illumined the world with the
resplendent radiance of the Day Star of Divine knowledge, they have
invariably summoned its peoples to embrace the light of God through such
means as best befitted the exigencies of the age in which they appeared.
They were thus able to scatter the darkness of ignorance, and to shed
upon the world the glory of their own knowledge. It is towards the
inmost essence of these Prophets, therefore, that the eye of every man
of discernment must be directed, inasmuch as their one and only purpose
hath always been to guide the erring, and give peace to the
afflicted.... These are not days of prosperity and triumph. The whole
of mankind is in the grip of manifold ills. Strive, therefore, to save
its life through the wholesome medicine which the almighty hand of the
unerring Physician hath prepared.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", pp. 79-80)

The Teaching regarding Jihad was the perfect and proper remedy for the times
and conditions in which it was administered. Times and conditions have
changed, however.

It has become clear that every participant in warfare sees themselves as a
self-defender (argressors and terrorists included), always claiming national
interest or a defensive first-strike. Stating that armed conflict is only
permitted in self-defense (your definition of jihad) will not prevent war.

A new working principle is needed.

Kamran Hakim

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May 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/16/96
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In article <4mvk71$g...@cloyd.cs.cornell.edu>, wcas...@zrocks.wr.usgs.gov
(William Cassady) you wrote:

WC>Kamran Hakim has given us a very thorough response to my essay on
WC>the Shah of the late 19th century.

Hello my dear William. I hope everything is going well with you.

I was under the impression that my response was focused on your criticism
of the Secret of Divine Civilization and your style and not "the Shah of
the late 19th century."

WC>I think it is for the most part sufficient,

This is fine.

WC>but I would like to mention a few things, and perhaps
WC>I'll continue in a later posting.

This is wonderful.

WC>Mr. Hakim writes:

KH>My dear William, I'd like to respectfully recommend that you re-examine
KH>the Secret of Divine Civilization once again. It appears to me that you
KH>have missed the author's intention on this front as well.

WC>Perhaps I should, but first allow me to state my general opinion:

This is great.

WC>Abdu'l-Baha's purpose was to make constructive suggestions to the
WC>Shah regarding the governance of Iran. My brutishly cynical tones
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
WC>are not intended to object to that purpose,

I thank you for the acknowledgement. I'd like to humbly request that you
lower your shields and put down your axe. We can have a far more rewarding
exchange.

WC>but to point out that Abdu'l-Baha's suggestions were not necessarily
WC>in line with his father's teachings.

God willing as you continue to present this forum with your scholarly
exhortations and Baha'is attempt to explain their points of view this
issue will become clear.
Part 1 of 3


Kamran Hakim

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May 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/16/96
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Continuation from part 1:

In article <4mvk71$g...@cloyd.cs.cornell.edu>, wcas...@zrocks.wr.usgs.gov
(William Cassady) you wrote:

WC>JIHAD

WC>It is certain that Jihad is a fundamental doctrine of Islam. No
WC>hadith is necessary to know that. The Qur'an makes it clear.

This is wonderful.

WC>But look at Abdu'l-Baha's words. You will find that they argue
WC>against Jihad.

I look at 'Abdu'l-Baha's words and I find Him to present the uselessness
of Jihad, outside of its intended context, in an extremely wise manner.

WC>But Mr. Hakim points out the following:

KH>Therefore, any suggestion implying its abrogation would be in direct
KH>conflict with the Sunni and Shi'ah theologies. Once again 'Abdu'l-Baha is
KH>attempting to prepare those who read His arguments to accept the message
KH>of Baha'u'llah.

WC>Mr. Hakim, what do you think a Muslim would have thought of
WC>Abdu'l-Baha's analysis of Jihad?

My dear William, depending on how a statement is made one might cause war
or peace.

This is a fair question and I will attempt to answer it.

WC>My guess is that Abdu'l-Baha's words would appear heretical.

Chances are that a Muslim would have disliked its implications and called
the author a heretic. However, I hope that you agree with me that there is
a difference between reading something, understanding it and rejecting
it as heretical and its author as a heretic, and rejecting a document as
heretical before reading it. The difference resides in the mental
absorption aspect of it.

Experience, throughout the Persian territories of the 18-19 century had
shown that children were more willing to take medicine mixed with sugar.
Thanks to this Persian discovery this is why today everyone sugar-coats
the bitter medicine. :-) Would you happen to be against sugar-coating?

WC>Why did he argue that Jihad was a flawed policy _to_begin_with_?

While I tend to think that your approach to what 'Abdu'l-Baha is conveying
is extremely simplistic, however, I find the question to be a very good one.
I hope that you continue to raise such questions as a stand alone topic
for discussion as oppose to an outcome of an axe-grinding study guide on
the Baha'i Writings/Scriptures.

Let us explore the subtle message 'Abdu'l-Baha is conveying to the
children of Persia, including the Shah before attempting to offer a


perspective on your question. 'Abdul-Baha writes:

"A few, who are unaware of the reality below the surface of events, who
cannot feel the pulse of the world under their fingers, who do not know
what a massive dose of truth must be administered to heal this chronic old
disease of falsehood, believe that the Faith can only be spread by the
sword, and bolster their opinion with the Tradition, "I am a Prophet by
the sword." If, however, they would carefully examine this question, they
would see that in this day and age the sword is not a suitable means for
promulgating the Faith, for it would only fill peoples' hearts with
revulsion and terror. According to the Divine Law of Muhammad, it is not
permissible to compel the People of the Book to acknowledge and accept the
Faith. While it is a sacred obligation devolving on every conscientious
believer in the unity of God to guide mankind to the truth, the Traditions
"I am a Prophet by the sword" and "I am commanded to threaten the lives of
the people until they say, 'There is none other God but God'" referred to
the idolaters of the Days of Ignorance, who in their blindness and
bestiality had sunk below the level of human beings. A faith born of
sword thrusts could hardly be relied upon, and would for any trifling
cause revert to error and unbelief. After the ascension of Muhammad, and
His passing to "the seat of truth, in the presence of the potent King,"
[Qur'an 54:55] the tribes around Medina apostatized from their Faith,
turning back to the idolatry of pagan times."

Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 43-44

'Abdu'l-Baha in His exhortation makes a couple of different points in a
subtle manner. He makes the point:

"While it is a sacred obligation devolving on every conscientious
believer in the unity of God to guide mankind to the truth, the Traditions
"I am a Prophet by the sword" and "I am commanded to threaten the lives of
the people until they say, 'There is none other God but God'" referred to

^^^^^^^^^^^


the idolaters of the Days of Ignorance, who in their blindness and

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


bestiality had sunk below the level of human beings."

ibid. pp. 43-44

That is to say bringing humanity under the banner of submission to the
Will of God is the duty of every believer (i.e. Muslim). What does He
really mean by this?

He is speaking of Jihad itself. Such a view was in total conformance with
the Babi theology, from which Baha'i theology grew and developed. Therefore,
in order to obtain a better understanding of this issue we must examine
the Babi Scriptures in order to see where 'Abdu'l-Baha is coming from.
Such an examination suggests that the Bab in fact reinstated the Qur'anic
rule of Jihad, during the earliest stages of His revelation (i.e. the
first 40 days), in the Book of Qayyum'ul-Asma in chapters 27, 29, 30, 48,
51, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101 and 102, however, in contrast to the law of
the Qur'an, He made Jihad conditional upon His personal approval. In
chapter 97, 98, 100 and 101 of Qayyum'ul-Asma this issue is referred to.
For example in chapter 100 of this Book it is revealed:

"faqtaloo al-moshrikin behokm-el ketaab ba'd-e ezn-el bab."

However, there existed no occasion in the Babi history where Babis were
given the permission to engage in holy war with Muslims. All Babi
engagements as reflected in the Dawn Breakers, such as Fort Shaykh
Tabarsi, Nairiz, Zanjan, etc... were all defensive in nature.

Furthermore, the Bab identifies Jihad as the "sirr" or the "mystery" of
the religion of Muhammad (ref. chapter 48 of Qayyum'ul-Asma -His
Commentary on the Surih of Joseph-). Later on, in the Book of Dala'il-i
Sab'ih, He offers the reason behind such a characterization. In that Book
the Bab categorized people into two groups, as those who are in the
degree of "negation" and those who are in the station of "affirmation",
and He makes the following observation about these two groups:

"Thus, there are two stations: "negation" and "affirmation". First is he
who is in the state of negation saying "There is non other God..." [i.e.
La ilaha... KH] with the tongue of his essence, eventhough, "...but God."
[i.e. ila-allah. KH] comes only from his bodily tongue. Second are those
who are the token of affirmation. Upon hearing the verses, which are the
most great evidence and testimony they attain certitude. It is for this
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
reason that God commanded His Messenger [i.e. Prophet Muhammad. KH] to
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^
undertake Jihad. In order to bring into religion, through compulsion and
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
fierce indignation those who had not attained the station of faith. This
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^
is a token of God's kindness towards negation, so that it enters paradise."
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Persian part of the Dala'il-i Sab'ih, p. 42
provisional translation by myself.

This is perhaps why 'Abdu'l-Baha makes the following statement about
Jihad: "the Traditions "I am a Prophet by the sword" and "I am commanded

to threaten the lives of the people until they say, 'There is none other

God but God'" referred to the idolaters of the Days of Ignorance..."
That is to say:

1- Jihad had a very specific purpose, namely, bringing the idolaters
into Islam, implying that it was not to be used as a mechanism to kill
off those who Muslim leaders disliked (i.e. Many men women and children
among Babis were killed in the name of kufr and idolatry thus worthy of
death and this effort was identified by the religious leaders to the
public as Jihad. Also many wars were conducted by the Persian government,
under the directives of the religious leadership of Iran, against
various peoples and governments in the name of Jihad.)

2- A mechanism deemed as effective during a certain stage of human growth
and development does not necessarily retain its effectiveness during
a subsequent stage. Baha'u'llah says in this regards:

"The All-Knowing Physician hath His fingers on the pulse of mankind. He
perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the
remedy. Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular
aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions
can never be same as that which a subsequent age may require... We can
well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with
incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness,
sore- tried and disillusioned. They [i.e. among religious leaders, and
philosophers. KH] that are intoxicated with self-conceit have interposed
themselves between it and the Divine and infallible Physician. Witness
how they have entangled all men, themselves included, in the mesh of
their devices. They can neither discover the cause of the disease, nor
have they any knowledge of the remedy. They have conceived the straight
to be crooked, and have imagined their friend an enemy."

Baha'u'llah, Gleanings, p. 213

For example: forceful education of a child during the early stages of
his/her life might have proven to be successful 80%-85% of the time
(sometimes 15%-20% of the time, the use of force is ineffective on some
children), thus historically adopted as a viable method for raising
children. However, the use of force is definitely not the best approach
on an adolescent. By the same token, humanity during its stage of
childhood might have required a certain measure of force to move
forward in the path of education, however, as humanity reached its
adolescence the use of force was no longer required. This is why
'Abdu'l-Baha makes the following statement, in the closing portion of
His argument on Jihad, in the Secret of Divine Civilization regarding
the effectiveness of Jihad:

"A faith born of sword thrusts could hardly be relied upon, and would
for any trifling cause revert to error and unbelief. After the
ascension of Muhammad, and His passing to "the seat of truth, in the
presence of the potent King," [Qur'an 54:55] the tribes around Medina
apostatized from their Faith, turning back to the idolatry of pagan
times."

ibid. pp. 43-44

Suggesting that Jihad , as a viable method of education, during its
ordained time of application was only partially effective (i.e.
please refer to the child analogy I have offered above) since, some
tribes who had accepted Islam by force (clearly a small sector of
the population compared to the majority of the converts) apostatized.
Therefore, Jihad would not be of much value to the present situation.
As Baha'u'llah said: "Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its
particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day
afflictions can never be same as that which a subsequent age may
require..." [Gleanings, p. 213]

By using deductive and inductive reasoning 'Abdu'l-Baha is masterfully
using the history of Islam to make a point about the ordinance of Jihad
and convincing His audience to contemplate on the reasons given.

In consideration of the statement of 'Abdu'l-Baha these factors appears to
have totally escaped your attention.

WC>Of course. Let me grant you this: Abdu'l-Baha may have been paving the
WC>way for acceptance of Baha'u'llah's abrogation of Jihad.

Dear William a critical analysis of the text you have chosen to criticize
clearly demonstrates that this is exactly what 'Abdu'l-Baha was doing.
After all Baha'u'llah had said, and 'Abdul-Baha, as the Exemplar of the
teachings of Baha'u'llah was to exemplify His utterance:

"How manifold are the truths which must remain unuttered until the
appointed time is come! Even as it hath been said: `Not everything that
man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything he can disclose be
regarded as timely, nor can every timely utterance be considered as
suited to the capacity of those who hear it."

Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 176

You appear to have totally overlooked the hatred of the Shah and the clergy
against Baha'is, and capacity of the people 'Abdu'l-Baha was trying to
communicate with.

WC>Still, he managed to demonstrate that Jihad was ineffective
WC>for the early Muslims.

I have addressed the gist of your concern above. I hope it offers a
perspective for consideration of 'Abdu'l-Baha's statements at a
deeper level.

WC>This would lead me to conclude that he was criticizing Islam.

Dear William do you mean Islam as in "submission to the Will of God" or
Islam as in "Shari'ah or religious laws revealed in the Qur'an"?

It is rather fascinating that the Qur'an equates, on one hand, "shari'ah"
with "Submission to the Will of God" and in order to leave no room for the
ignorant to object It also equates the shari'ah of Abraham, Moses and Jesus
as "Submission to the Will of God". While on the other hand the Qur'an
testifies that "He doeth whatsoever He willeth and ordaineth whatsoever
He pleaseth". Please note that He willed for the religion of Abraham to
come about and He ordained certain laws for His people to follow and He
called it "Submission to the Will of God" (i.e. Islam). Later on He willed
to abrogate those laws through the revelation of Moses and He ordained new
laws for His people to follow and He called it "Submission to the Will of
God" (i.e. Islam). Afterwards He willed for Jesus Christ to appear and He
ordained that certain aspects of the Mosaic code to become modified and He
called it "Submission to the Will of God" (i.e. Islam). Then He willed for
the Sun of Muhammad to shine above the horizon of human existence and
through Him He ordained that which He pleased and and called it "Submission
to the Will of God" (i.e. Islam). This continued until God willed for the
Bab to appear and He ordained new laws to be revealed. As before, humanity
was expected to follow the path of "Submission to the Will of God" (i.e.
Islam) Through the revelation of Baha'u'llah God's will became apparent
once again and the which He pleased was ordained through the pen of
Baha'u'llah and the human acceptance of His will and ordinances is still
known as "Submission to the Will of God" (i.e. Islam).

You say: "This would lead me to conclude that he was criticizing Islam."
but 'Abdu'l-Baha defines islam as:

"Note thou carefully that in this world of being, all things must ever be
made new. Look at the material world about thee, see how it hath now been
renewed. The thoughts have changed, the ways of life have been revised,
the sciences and arts show a new vigor, discoveries and inventions are
new, perceptions are new. How then could such a vital power as
religion--the guarantor of mankind's great advances, the very means of
attaining everlasting life, the fosterer of infinite excellence, the light
of both worlds--not be made new? This would be incompatible with the
grace and loving kindness of the Lord."

Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 52

The issue is not criticism of "submission to the Will of God". The issue
is human tendency to resist the change resulting from the Qur'anic edict:
"He doeth whatsoever He willeth and ordaineth whatsoever He pleaseth." in
a never-ending cycle destined to educate humanity in its evolutionary path.

I do submit that 'Abdu'l-Baha criticizes the Muslim behavior. In particular
the behavior of the Muslim clergy who like parasites were afflicting the
body of the Persian government. He also hints at the fact that "Jihad"
was a time-dependent institution adopted by Prophet Muhammad and it had
outlived its usefulness and God had willed to abrogate it in this new cycle.

WC>But of course Abdu'l-Baha would never do that.

I recommend you re-examine the Secret of Divine Civilization.

WC>Why, then, did he so criticize Jihad?

Because the institution of Jihad was abused as soon as Prophet Muhammad
passed away. Just look at the conquests of Umar ibn-i Khattab, conducted
in the name of Jihad:

================================================================================
632: Death of Prophet Muhammad.

634: Umar ibn-i Khattab became the 2nd. Khalif

635: Conquest of Damascus.

636: Battle of Qadsiyia. Conquest of Madain.

637: Conquest of Syria. Fall of Jerusalem. Battle of Jalula.

638: Conquest of Jazirah.

639: Conquest of Khuizistan. Advance into Egypt.

640: Capture of the post of Caesaria in Syria. Conquest of Shustar and Jande
Sabur in Persia. Battle of Babylon in Egypt.

641: Battle of Nihawand. Conquest Of Alexandria in Egypt.

642: Battle of Rayy in Persia. Conquest of Egypt. Foundation of Fustat.

643: Conquest of Azarbaijan and Tabaristan (Russia).

644: Conquest of Fars, Kerman, Sistan, Mekran and Kharan.Martyrdom of Hadrat
Umar.

644: Othman becomes the 3rd. Khalif.

646: Campaigns in Khurasan, Armeain and Asia Minor.

647: Campaigns in North Africa. Conquest of the island of Cypress.

648: Campaigns against the Byzantines.
================================================================================

Such an abuse became the foundation for the arrogance of Muslim clergies
throughout the history of Islam. This is why 'Abdu'l-Baha characterizes
the Jihads of Prophet Muhammad in a very unique manner:

"The military expeditions of Muhammad, on the contrary, were always
defensive actions: a proof of this is that during thirteen years, in
Mecca, He and His followers endured the most violent persecutions. At
this period they were the target for the arrows of hatred: some of his
companions were killed and their property confiscated; others fled to
foreign lands. Muhammad Himself, after the most extreme persecutions by
the Quraishites, who finally resolved to kill Him, fled to Medina in
the middle of the night. Yet even then His enemies did not cease their
persecutions, but pursued Him to Medina, and His disciples even to
Abyssinia... It was under such circumstances that Muhammad was forced to
take up arms. This is the truth: we are not bigoted and do not wish to
defend Him, but we are just, and we say what is just."

'Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, pp. 18-20

By such a characterization He establishes the necessary contrast between
the mode of "submission to the Will of God" (i.e. Islam) preached by the
Prophet and the manner of "submission to the Will of God" Muslim leaders
practiced from the very beginning, thus fulfilling the prophesies of
chapter 11 and chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation. The abuse of the
institution of Jihad constitutes one example of this.

WC>Perhaps it was just a flawed argument?

Perhaps as we continue to study together, exploring various perspectives
we will gain a better understanding of "flawed argument". I invite you
to be patient.

WC>Was he appealing to the Shah's pro-modern or Iranian sentiments?

He was perhaps trying to:

1- Educate the Shah regarding what was wrong, why was it so and what steps
needed to be taken to resolve it;

2- Boosting the Shah's volition to react;

3- Inspiring the Shah to take action.
Part 2 of 3


Kamran Hakim

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May 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/16/96
to

Continuation from part 2:

In article <4mvk71$g...@cloyd.cs.cornell.edu>, wcas...@zrocks.wr.usgs.gov
(William Cassady) you wrote:

WC>CHINA

I will not comment on this issue since others have already addressed
it in great details and far better than I could.

WC>ALEXANDER THE GREAT

WC>Alexander the Great was no friend of ancient Iran. Ancient Iran was
WC>a great civilization, and Alexander laid much of it to waste. It is for
WC>this reason that I don't like Alexander much more than Abdu'l-Baha
WC>appears to. Nor do I like what Omar did to Iran. My point is that
WC>the Qur'an liked Alexander, and Abdu'l-Baha didn't - but what patriotic
WC>Iranian should like Alexander? I don't blame Abdu'l-Baha for this.

This issue has been addressed by others.

WC>Why then, did I speak so well of Alexander? I was emphasizing
WC>his good side for the sake of argument, and I apologize for that.

No apologies are necessary.

WC>I don't think Abdu'l-Baha's allegorical interpretation of "Alexander"
WC>to be "Ali" (a very Shi'ah interpretation) should be used as evidence
WC>in this context, since my very point is to focus on his disagreement
WC>with the Qur'an on Alexander.

Dear William, Zulqarnain has been identified by Muslims as several
personalities extending from Khidr to Alexander the Great. I admire your
conviction, beyond reasonable doubt, that Zulqarnain = Alexander of
Macedonia, however, considering the fact that Muslims do not agree on
one interpretation it is rather strange that you speak with such
conviction and authority.

It is revealed in the Qur'an:

"Fa idhaa qarr'anaa-hu fa ittabih Qur'an hu." Qur'an 75:18
"Thumma innaa alaynaa bayaan hu" :19

These verse of the Surih of Qiamah translate to:

"When We have recited it, then follow thou the recital."
"And verily, afterwards it shall be Ours to make it clear."

That is to say, O Muhammad follow what We have recited to you and have
your people follow the recital and do not worry about their meanings.
We will verily clarify their meanings in the future.

"Bal kadhdhaboo bimaa lam yuheto bi ilmhi va lammaa ya'tihim ta'veelhu"

[Qur'an 10:39]
This verse of the Surih of Yunis translates to:

"Nay, but they denied that, the knowledge whereof they could not
compass, and whereof the interpretation hath not yet come unto them."

That is to say these people reject the revealed verses and consider
them to be lies because they do not understand their meanings. The
meanings have not yet been revealed (This implicates that when the
meanings are revealed they will not reject them or consider them as
lies.).

Qur'an addresses this issue in the utmost degree of clarity in the
following verse of the Book:

"He it is Who has revealed the Book to you; some of its verses are
decisive [i.e. Ayat-i Muhkamaat. KH], they are the basis of the Book,
and others are allegorical [i.e. Ayat-i Mutishabihaat. KH]; Then as
for those in whose hearts there is perversity, they follow the part
of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead, and seeking to give
it (their own) interpretation, but none knows its interpretation
except Allah, and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge."
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Qur'an 3:7

That is to say, O people follow the decisive verses (i.e. the laws
and ordinances which have been revealed in the Qur'an. Laws imply clarity
and decisiveness by the virtue of definition.), because these are the
basis of the Book, and the focal point of your belief in God, which is
submission to God's Will. Only those who are perverse and wicked will
focus on the allegorical verses. Do not concern yourselves with them
(i.e. the allegorical verses of the Qur'an), since you do not understand
their meanings. Their meanings are known to God and "those who are
firmly rooted in knowledge".

Naturally the question is raised who are the "firmly rooted in knowledge"?
Are they the believers or the the scholars? The following Hadith from
Prophet Muhammad might shed some light on this issue:

"Ana madinatul ilm va Ali-yon baabo-haa va man araadal ilm falyaatal
baab"
Jala-ud-Din Soyuti, Jami-us-Saghir vol. 1, p. 107

Which translates to:

"I [i.e. Prophet Muhammad. KH] am the city of knowledge, and Ali is its
door of it, then whoever demands knowledge, has to go through the door."

Ali was one of the two witnesses of the Book of Revelation, and one of
the 12 princes which were to appear after the King of Revelation, Prophet
Muhammad, from the line of Ishmael. The point which I am attempting to
convey to you is that according to Qur'an 3:7, only the MessengerS of God
^^^^^^^^^^
appearing after Prophet Muhammad are "firmly rooted in knowledge" to
unseal the meanings of the allegorical verses of the Qur'an which is
practically all the verses which are not laws. Baha'u'llah reveals in
the Book of Certitude:

"...And yet, they [i.e. the religious leaders. KH] themselves testify to
this verse: "None knoweth the interpretation thereof but God and they
that are well-grounded in knowledge." [Qur'an 3:7] And when He Who is
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
well-grounded in all knowledge, He Who is the Mother, the Soul, the
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Secret, and the Essence thereof [i.e. the Manifestation of God. KH],
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
revealeth that which is the least contrary to their desire, they
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
bitterly oppose Him and shamelessly deny Him. These thou hast already
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
heard and witnessed. Such deeds and words have been solely instigated
by leaders of religion, they that worship no God but their own desire,
who bear allegiance to naught but gold, who are wrapt in the densest
veils of learning, and who, enmeshed by its obscurities, are lost in
the wilds of error. Even as the Lord of being hath explicitly declared:
'What thinkest thou? He who hath made a God of his passions, and whom
God causeth to err through a knowledge, and whose ears and whose heart
He hath sealed up, and over whose sight He hath cast a veil - who, after
his rejection by God, shall guide such a one? Will ye not then be warned?'
[Qur'an 45:22]"
Baha'u'llah, Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 213-214

As Muhammad was "well-grounded in all knowledge" and this was also
granted by Him to Ali, likewise, Baha'u'llah was "well-grounded in all
knowledge" and He granted that ability to 'Abdu'l-Baha, the Center of His
Covenant. Therefore 'Abdu'l-Baha was capable of interpreting the allegorical
verses of the Qur'an.

The verses of the Qur'an testify that the comprehensive interpretation of
Its allegorical verses will eventually be offered at a later time in the
Day of Resurrection:

"Their thirst will be slaked with Pure Wine Sealed:" [Qur'an 83:25]
^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Baha'u'llah clearly refers to this in the Book of Aqdas:

"Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws.Nay, rather,
We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power. To
this beareth witness that which the Pen of Revelation hath revealed.
Meditate upon this, O men of insight!"
Paragraph 5 of the Book of Aqdas

Dear William you say: "I don't think Abdu'l-Baha's allegorical


interpretation of "Alexander" to be "Ali" (a very Shi'ah interpretation)

should be used as evidence in this context". I would like to offer four
comments for your consideration:

1- While I humbly grant you the right for rejecting 'Abdu'l-Baha as one
Who is considered by Baha'is to be "well-grounded in knowledge", are
you implying that you are the fulfillment of the verse: "None knoweth
the interpretation thereof but God and they that are well-grounded in
knowledge." [Qur'an 3:7] and your interpretation is that "Zulqarnain"
of the Qur'an is equal to Alexander of Macedonia? Are you claiming to
be a Manifestation of God or and appointed interpreter of a Manifestation?
If this is so, then your statement: "since my very point is to focus on
his disagreement with the Qur'an on Alexander.", becomes quite meaningful
and I should indeed discard it as "evidence in this context".

2- Please remember that in criticizing 'Abdu'l-Baha in your original
posting you had said:

WC>He glorifies Persian monarchs of antiquity, while revealing a
WC>typically Persian ethnic hatred of Alexander the Great [15], who the
WC>author seems to have forgotten was the student of Aristotle, a
WC>universalist, an unsurpassed admirer of Persian culture [16], and
WC>exalted to the status of an Apostle of God in the Qur'an [17].

Please note that you have developed a theory of your own and accused
'Abdu'l-Baha that He had forgotten Alexander the Great's station to
have been "exalted to the status of an Apostle of God in the Qur'an".
And when 'Abdu'l-Baha clarifies the meaning of of "Zulqarnain of the
Qur'an, you complain: "I don't think Abdu'l-Baha's allegorical


interpretation of "Alexander" to be "Ali" (a very Shi'ah interpretation)

should be used as evidence in this context".

Am I missing something here? Why is it Halal for Mr. William Cassady
to define Zulqarnain as Alexander, but it is not Kosher for 'Abdul-Baha
to identify Zulqarnain as Ali, the son in law of the Prophet, and the
2nd Witness of the Book of revelation?

NOTE: Both terms Halal and Kosher imply the same thing.

3- You say: 'Abdu'l-Baha's interpretation is "(a very Shi'ah interpretation)".
Let us grant that it is. If that is so why don't we find a single reference
to this in the writings of the Shi'ah Imams and Shi'ah theologians?

4- Once again please remember that in criticizing 'Abdu'l-Baha in your
original posting you had said:

WC>He glorifies Persian monarchs of antiquity, while revealing a
WC>typically Persian ethnic hatred of Alexander the Great [15], who the
WC>author seems to have forgotten was the student of Aristotle, a
WC>universalist, an unsurpassed admirer of Persian culture [16], and
WC>exalted to the status of an Apostle of God in the Qur'an [17].

The fact of the matter was that the purpose of 'Abdu'l-Baha was
very different. He used the name of such conqueror kings: "Consider how

throughout history many a king has sat on his throne as a conqueror.
Among them were Hulagu Khan and Tamerlane, who took over the vast
continent of Asia, and Alexander of Macedon and Napoleon I, who
stretched their arrogant fists over three of the earth's five continents.
And what was gained by all their mighty victories? Was any country made

to flourish, did any happiness result, did any throne stand?" [Secret
of Divine Civilization, p. 67] in order to make the point that: "man's
glory and greatness do not consist in his being avid for blood and sharp
of claw, in tearing down cities and spreading havoc, in butchering armed
forces and civilians." [ibid. p.67]. Your theory that Zulqarnain=Alexander
the Great=Apostle of God thus an inappropriate choice for a writer
afflicted with a "typically Persian ethnic hatred of Alexander the Great"
is a conclusion which is not worthy of a scholar such as yourself.

I hope this offers you a fresh perspective for consideration.

Part 3 of 3

Satya Hari

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May 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/17/96
to

Hazrat Muhammad made it very clear there are two jihads;the leser and the
greater.Once when returning from battle and dismounting an asahib-
companion of the prophet said something positive about their victory in
Battle.Rasullah the prophet said we have returned from the lesser jihad
to the greater jihad the war against our lowerer nature-nafs.
-
SATYA HARI PYE...@prodigy.com


Kamran Hakim

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May 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/20/96
to

In article <4n04i2$r...@cloyd.cs.cornell.edu>, wcas...@zrocks.wr.usgs.gov
(William Cassady) you wrote:

WC>Having now read over Mr. Hakim's thoughts on "Secret of Divine
WC>Civilization", please allow me to complete my thoughts.

Hello dear William. This is great.

WC>Mr. Hakim has credited me with "scholastic peek-a-boo". Let me remind
WC>the reader that Abdu'l-Baha wrote SODC anonymously. I would be taking
WC>that credit falsely if I didn't defer the credit for Mr. Hakim's
WC>"scholastic peek-a-boo" to Abdu'l-Baha himself.

With your permission I'd like to remain silent on this. Nevertheless,
I could not resist saying: "I-see-you!" :-)

WC>My original point was: regardless of Abdu'l-Baha's purpose in writing
WC>SODC, he makes it clear that he has a high opinion of the Shah. Mr.
WC>Hakim has countered my argument by showing that Abdu'l-Baha was
WC>counselling the Shah:

KH>This is not voice of a supporter of the Shah. These are the words of a
KH>wise counsellor, who according to his own testimony: "offers these few
KH>words of counsel to His country's sons, words spoken for God's sake alone
KH>and in the spirit of a faithful friend." [ibid. p.6]

KH>The purpose of the author is to find hearing ears, whether those of the
KH>Shah, his ministers, people of influence or the citizens and convey a very
KH>particular message to those hearing ears. Furthermore, a nationalistic
KH>supporter of the type you are suggesting would want to announce his name.

WC>In other words, Mr. Hakim is suggesting that Abdu'l-Baha is only posing as
WC>a supporter so that the Shah will listen to him. He thus conceals his
WC>identity so that the Shah will give him a fair reading.

This is not exactly what I said. This is what you wanted to understand from
what I recommended. Nevertheless, that is un-important.

WC>That seems like a defensible hypothesis.

Dear William, you are a hard man to convince.

WC>However, Abdu'l-Baha goes far beyond anonymity and a few sweet words. He
WC>lists, in detail, the accomplishments of the Shah. Yet still, perhaps he
WC>was just piling on the false praise higher and higher. Perhaps Mr. Hakim
WC>is correct, but if Mr. Hakim is correct, then it must be accepted that
WC>Abdu'l-Baha accepted and utilized false praise as a literary mechanism.

Dear William, the accomplishments under discussion where in fact the
results of the initiatives taken by such an able statesman as Mirza Taqi
Khan-i Farahani known as Amir Kabir, the late prime minister of Nasir'id-Din
Shah and not those of the Shah himself. Prof. E. G. Browne Makes the
following observation about Nasir'id-Din Shah: "People...in Europe too
often suppose that the interests of the Shah and of his subjects are
identical, when they are in fact generally diametrically opposed..."
[A Year Among the Persians, p. 99] On the other hand both western and
middle eastern historians praise Mirza Taqi Khan Amir Kabir. Robert
Curzon in his book: "Armanistan and irzanat'room" and Watson in his book
of history speak very highly of Mirza Taqi Khan Amir Kabir. Dr. 'Abdu'llah
Razi in his book "The Complete History of Iran" from the formation of
Mades till the downfall of the Qajar Dynasty makes the following
observations:

"Mirza Taqi Khan had recognized the secret of the progressive European
countries. Through wisdom and persistence he began to work towards
correcting the problems which had started during the reign of Muhammad
Shah and Fath-Ali Shah. If he had escaped the wrath of Nasir'id-Din
Shah and lived longer, he would surely have been able to accomplish his
goals and Iran would have reached the apex of its greatness. Alas that
he was soon killed off and his plans remained unfulfilled. Regardless,
during the three short years he served as the prime minister he laid a
strong foundation and accomplished many important tasks. Following is a
summary of his accomplishments:

1- Increasing the power of the central government by reducing the power of
the provincial and religious leaders...;

2- Establishment of security throughout the realm and subjugation of the
outlaws;

3- Upholding of reward and punishment without regards for one's social
status;

4- Promotion of justice and implementation of mechanisms to eliminate
the despotism of the local leaders and prevent the practice of bribery;

5- Balancing of the budget for the country, since the irresponsible
expenditures of Haji Mirza Aqasi, the prime minister of Muhammad Shah
had placed Iran in the position of deficit;

6- Reconfiguration of the army and modernization of their artillery in
order for them to be ready at all times;

7- Formation of a school and promotion of education in modern fields of
science. Formation of the first newspaper;

8- Promotion of industry and agriculture;

9- Building of roads.

10- Formalizing friendly relationships with other countries.

In general Mirza Taqi Khan laid a strong foundation for progress of the
country. However, without doubt, many among the governors, the nobles
and religious leaders were waiting for an opportunity to shed his blood."

p. 525-526, My own translation
from the Persian print.

If you examine the historical accounts surrounding Nasir'id-Din Shah you
find him to be a very lax and unable personality. After all an apple does
not fall too far from the tree. Muhammad Shah-i Qajar wrote the book on
imperial laxity and royal inability. This was due to his lack of wisdom
and inability that Nasir'id-Din Shah removed Mirza Taqi Khan from his
post, banished him to Kashan had this great man killed in the bath of Fin
in Kashan. According to some historical accounts he was very disappointed
with his own decision after killing his prime minister to the extent that he
cried about it. This should give you a jump-start in the path of better
understanding the Persian monarch who was more into poetry and womanizing
than managing the affairs of a country.

As a side note, I'd like to point out that as a Baha'i I am not fond of
Mirza Taqi Khan's decision to have the Bab executed, nevertheless, I submit
that he was a great statesman.

Naturally one might ask why did 'Abdu'l-Baha, knowing this, gave the credits
of Mirza Taqi Khan's accomplishments to Nasir'id-Din Shah? Please consider
the following:

1- To understand this above and beyond what has already been shared we
have to remember that Nasir'id-Din Shah was an absolute monarch and not
a constitutional one. As a result, he was in the business of giving the
orders and the prime minister and other ministers were simply advisors to
the Shah. As such, the credits of accomplishments would be due to the
Shah and not the prime minister. After all the Shah was the head of the
government.

2- The Shah had already killed Mirza Taqi Khan and was upset about his own
mindless act. Therefore, his majesty would not have been in any mood to
have some writer reminding him about what wonderful things Mirza Taqi
Khan had accomplished. That would have been like adding salt to his
wound. That would have given him enough reason not to read the book.

3- Referring to the accomplishments of an assassinated prime minister would
have been a strong political stand for the late prime minister and against
the Shah. 'Abdu'l-Baha's purpose was not to make a political statement
but to identify the problem and offer some solutions to those problems.

My dear William, of course, I submit that I might not be as knowledgeable
as you are about the Persian history and Baha'i theology, therefore, I
humbly admit that I might be wrong about this.

WC>Regarding the 11 reforms that Abdu'l-Baha credits the shah with propagating
WC>in SODC, Mr. Hakim appears to have countered my mention of these reforms by
WC>listing passages referring to opponents to the Shah's efforts. Mr. Hakim
WC>then underlines some of the advancements that Abdu'l-Baha advocates, and
WC>then presents this as a relevant counter-argument, without explaining his
WC>interpretation of these passages at all.

My dear William, there is a saying in Farsi which goes as follows:
"cheezi the ayaan ast che haajat be bayaan ast". That is to say: "It is
not necessary to elaborate on that which is clear."

My purpose in listing the passages was not to offer a "relevant counter-
argument,". If that was my purpose, I would have surely written a multiple
parts reply in defense of my position. The purpose was to have the readers
read the pages for themselves and compare 'Abdu'l-Baha's purpose in making
those remarks with the conclusions you had drawn from them. I hope that I
have not disappointed you. If so, please accept my sincerest apologies.

WC>He then procedes to accuse me of
WC>misrepresenting these things! Mr. Hakim, are you suggesting that the fact
WC>that Abdu'l-Baha encourages these advancements nullifies his crediting the
WC>Shah for also encouraging them? What are you suggesting?

Please stop the criticism and present your questions your understanding of
them and let us discuss them as friends. Axe-grinding is not the best
option available to you.

WC>The logic of Baha'i scholars escapes me.

Please forgive Baha'is for their shortcomings. After all we are all humans
and make mistakes. Nevertheless, Baha'is always look forward to learn from
others.

WC>1) Anything can be completely redefined; you only have to call it a
WC> metaphor. An example is Abdu'l-Baha's alleged redefinition of
WC> Alexander in the Qur'an to Ali. How can this be described as an
WC> interpretation of metaphor?

Let us forget about metaphors for a moment. Please attempt to find a
reasonable explanation for the following concepts in your favorite
Scripture from the Semitic branch of religion:

A- Cloud riding Messiahs

B- Earth standing still

C- Falling stars and darkening of sun and the moon

D- Raising of the dead

E- Shaq-ul-Qamar (breaking of the moon into two halves)

F- Parting of the sea

G- Genesis and the Garden of Eden

H- Appearance of God among humanity

Abstract theological concepts require both deductive and inductive modes
of reasoning. This is why Scriptures have adopted the use of allegories:

"I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been
kept secret from the foundation of the world."
Psalms 78:2

"All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without
a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was
spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will
utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the
world."
Matthew 13:34-35

"He it is Who has revealed the Book to you; some of its verses are
decisive [i.e. Ayat-i Muhkamaat. KH], they are the basis of the Book,
and others are allegorical [i.e. Ayat-i Mutishabihaat. KH]; Then as
for those in whose hearts there is perversity, they follow the part
of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead, and seeking to give
it (their own) interpretation, but none knows its interpretation
except Allah, and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge."

Qur'an 3:7

Galen, the Greek physician and philosopher says in his Summary of Plato's
Republic (which is taken from an Arabic translation of the original work):

"The generality of mankind are unable to to grasp a sequence of logical
arguments. For this reason they stand in need of symbols and parables..."

Remember, the Qur'an was revealed for such a people who needed symbols
and parables in order to understand.


I hope these references offer you a fresh perspective for the consideration
of this issue.

The Qur'an also makes another remarkable statement regarding the


"Many will He [i.e. God. KH] mislead by such parables [i.e. metaphors. KH]
and many guide: but none will He mislead thereby except the wicked..."

Qur'an 2:24

Jalalu'ddin-i Rumi' the renown Persian poet in his book Mathnawi addresses
this concept of blind approach to the Scripture as follows:

"The Sage of Ghazna (*) told the mystic story
To his veiled hearers, in an allegory:
If those who err see naught in the Qur'an
But only words, it's not to wonder on;
Of all the sun's fire, lighting up the sky
Only the warmth can reach a blind man's eye."

(*) Referring to another Sufi poet Sana'i.

WC>It is clearly a simple alteration
WC> of content used to defend Shi'ah doctrine, as there was no
WC> parable, allegaory, or metaphor involved.

Shi'ahs have historically sharpened their swords on the necks of Baha'is
due to their hatred towards Baha'i theology since they believe that
Baha'is are undermining the Shi'ah doctrine. Perhaps you want to focus your
efforts in informing the Shi'ahs how mistaken they have been regarding
Baha'is and their theology.

>2) Abdu'l-Baha's authority to interpret Baha'u'llah licenses him to
> defy logic.

This is a rather inexpensive statement William :-). I have already
explained in a previous reply that one of the tasks in the Baha'i
Dispensation has been to offer the interpretation of the passages
of the Qur'an and the Bible, etc...

WC>For example, when Baha'u'llah explicitly permits
WC> bigamy, Abdu'l-Baha can interpret Baha'u'llah to have intended
WC> to forbid bigamy.

This has already been addressed in "Re: Equality of Women (5/7)".

WC>That is not interpretation; that is alteration.
^^^^ ^^^^

Possibly this is a misunderstanding on your part?!
^^^^

WC>3) When a problematic passage is encountered, it is sufficient
WC> to quote another passage from scripture which contradicts it.
WC> Sometimes, as Mr. Hakim has demonstrated in addressing the
WC> "11