Talk given by Hand of the Cause of God A.Q. Faizi, AustraliaConqueror of Hearts
In November 1969 Hand of the Cause of God Abu'l-Qásim Faizí visited Australia and spoke at the Continental Board of Counselors Conference in Melbourne and also in Sydney. The subjects he covered during his visit were: The Hidden Words, Bahá'í Education, On Standards and Values, Explanations from the Writings of the Báb, and How to Study the Book of Iqán. His talks were transcribed and typed into a booklet titled "Bahá'í Lessons" for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia. Because Mr. Faizí's talks on The Hidden Words and "Bahá'í Education" are incorporated in this compilation, only the transcripts of his talks on "Standards and Values, "Explanations from the Writings of the Báb," and "How to Study the Book of Íqán" are included here, as well as Mr. Faizí's opening remarks at the beginning of the conference:
(Melbourne, Australia, Friday, November 21, 1969)
Well, dear friends, there are many, many gatherings in the world everywhere, but the great difference is this: that we are gathered here in the love of Bahá'u'lláh and in the love of humanity. In other gatherings you will find antagonistic idea, suggestions, proposals and movements. But here, where the friends meet each other is like candles and lamps being placed one next to the other; they add to each other's light and warmth.
There were many kind and beautiful regards expressed toward the Hands of the Cause. But dear friends, in the Cause of God we are all the same. This is what we propagate throughout the world: that this is a religion which has no rank or positions. We have all the same responsibility. We should all put our shoulders together and carry the burden of our beloved Faith. The more discharged we are, the better we can discharge our duties.
The result of these conferences here should be this: that we will be empty from all self and ego, and then Bahá'u'lláh will fill us with His own spirit. And then He will guide our steps and will show us where to go, what to do, and what to say. We hope that from tomorrow when our sessions will start, we will really benefit from each other's presence, and will be unified with the power of Bahá'u'lláh to carry the burden placed on this community by the Universal House of Justice.
I want to tell you something that `Abdu'l-Bahá said in order to make clear what I mean about being empty of self and from all selfish desires, passion and ego. You know `Abdu'l-Bahá traveled in Europe after He had been released from prison, and he traveled in America too, to propagate the Faith of His Father. One of the greatest and cruellest enemies, one of the princes of Persia, was in Europe at the same time as `Abdu'l-Bahá. One day he went to `Abdu'l-Bahá and said, "I have come to ask you one question. Look at me, my hat is covered with diamonds, my garments have all sorts of jewels, and yet when I walk in the streets, nobody looks at me or pays any attention to me. And yet, when you walk in the streets and you have the simplest garment in the world, everyone makes way for you. They come to you. There are always hundreds of people at your door. I want to know why."
`Abdu'l-Bahá knew him and knew that because of him many of the Bahá'ís had been put to death. Therefore he told him, "Your Highness, will you sit down a little and I will tell you a story." The prince sat down. The name of that prince was Zillu's Sultán, the son of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh. The Master said: "Once a wise man passed the square of a certain town and found one of the richest people of that town gloomy and sad, brooding over his sorrows in the corner of the square. He went to him and asked, `What is the matter with you?' He answered, `I have enough money to be the greatest merchant in this town, but I am not satisfied. I want to be greater than that.' The wise man said, `For instance, what would you like to be?' The merchant replied, `I want to be the governor of this town.' The wise man said, `If I make you the governor of this province, not the town, but the whole province, will you be satisfied? Please search your heart and give me the true answer.' The man pondered and then said: `Honestly, I will not be satisfied. I want to be a minister.' `I will make you a Minister, but give me another honest answer, will you be satisfied?' After that, he wanted to be King of the country, and the wise man said, `I will make you the king, will you then be happy and satisfied? Do you want anything beyond that?' The man replied, `After that there is nothing.' `Abdu'l-Bahá then said to the prince, "Your Highness, I am that nothing."
This is what I mean. Let us all go out, the last day of the conference, just nothing, and then find the miracles that will be done by everyone of us, with the help of Bahá'u'lláh. Alláh-u-Abhá.
(Talk given in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, November 26, 1969)
As I was going through my notes, I thought I would start tonight on a very basic problem of the teaching of the Bahá'í Faith, especially when we talk to the contacts. The problem of standards and values I believe is something that we all must ponder upon, and come to realize their importance in our thinking and in our contact with non-Bahá'ís.
What do I mean by standards? By standards I mean this, that had it not been for a certain standard, the most insignificant ball game in the world would scarcely come to an end. Let's take an example. Suppose you want to buy this carpet. You like it and you come to the shopkeeper and say that you want to buy this carpet. You measure the carpet by your own hand and say, it measures three meters by five. The owner of the carpet measures it with his own hand and say no, that it is five meters by seven. And both of you are correct, because each one is measuring according to his own view, his own standards.
Now how can we settle this difference? How can this little difference be settled between the customer and the owner of the carpet? We will immediately go to a stationary shop, buy a piece of wood on which the measure is fixed. It says that it is one meter. When you apply this on the carpet, whatever this piece of wood says, both of us will agree, both the seller and the buyer. When it says five by six, the buyer says it is true and the seller says it is true. What is the authority of this little piece of wood that you can break very easily, and the price of which is only a few cents?
The authority is given to it by the government having fixed on it one meter. You see, this is one example of having a standard. This is the standard of length and you apply it to whatever is applicable and then there is no disharmony among the people of the world. They tell me that there are two balances in pharmacies where if you have two pieces of paper on two sides. You write a letter on one of these pieces and when you have it on one side of the balance, the other side will go a little higher. It is so sensitive that it shows the exact weight of even ink put on the paper. This is used for weights, and we have other standards also.
Therefore, for everything in life we should have a standard. What is the value of a standard? The value of a standard is that it creates peace among the peoples of the world.
Now, standards should be used in their own places, not in other places. The same balance which I explained is very sensitive, can we use it to buy a carpet by weighing it? Everyone will laugh at this because we are misusing the sensitive instrument and using it wrongly. Can we buy a volume of Shakespeare and put it on the scales and say that it weight one kilo, therefore it costs one pound? We cannot do so. It has another standard, the standard of weights, the standard of measures, the standard of length, width, and other things. Everything has its own standard.
How can the world be void, then, of some spiritual standard? If we want to come to peace and harmony with each other, there must be a spiritual standard, and this spiritual standard must be given to us by God Himself, to mankind through His Prophets.
Therefore, please, whenever you contact someone, don't ever start by explaining the principles of the Faith, the laws of the Faith, and so on. What you need to ask your Muslim friend, for example, on what basis, on what standard does he accept the Prophet Muhammad as the Messenger of God. What are the standards by which you know someone is a Prophet? Even if this question is not replied to within some months, please have patience. I have learned this from many of our old, old teachers of the Cause. You know, they would talk to someone about this problem, and after one month of talking, the person would go from one subject to another, and the teacher would patiently listen to him, and after all the weeks and days, he will say, "All right, what you said is very interesting. We will come back to it. But I want to know what are the standards by which you know the Prophet Muhammad as the Prophet of God?" He would return again and again to the same subject, until some sort of awakening appeared in the mind of the contact.
When you refer to the Books of God, you will find that each Book is considered as differentiating between right and wrong. This is the greatest quality of the Books of God; that they differentiate. They separate right from wrong. Therefore, in the Books of God, there must be some standards given for the true Prophets of God.
In the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Qur'án, and in the books of Zoroaster, the books of Buddha and Krishna, wherever you study, you will find the standard is the same. There is no change in the standard. He says that a Prophet of God is the One when He says something, it has creative power, and it will be creative in the world and the people will follow it whether they know it or not. Willingly, or unwillingly, the people will apply the rules of the Prophet. This is a true standard by which you may know a Prophet of God. They asked Moses, "How can we know a true Prophet from a false Prophet?" Moses said that you can never have grapes and figs from thistles. Thorns will not bear fruit. You must pay complete attention to the words of the Prophets, and see that they are of one gender, one kind, one atmosphere. But they are developing - one over the other.
When they asked Jesus Christ, He said that you should know the tree by its fruit. See, another simile from the vegetable world. They asked the Prophet Muhammad. He said that the true word of God is like a plant, planted in the soil. It grows, it gives branches, it will be covered by foliage, and will bear fruit in due time. It is an elaboration on what Moses and Jesus said.
But a word which is not pronounced by a Prophet of God, it is like a dry piece of wood thrown on the earth. There is no fruit. It is not fruit-bearing.
You will see what I mean when you make your contact understand that in their Books there is a certain standard by which they must know the Prophet of God and they come to realize this. Now, they may tell you that their Prophet made miracles. For instance, the Prophet Muhammad, according to Muslims, one night by a movement of His finger split the moon into two parts, that the moon divided into two parts and then He put them back again. This is what they say, your contact may tell you.
Now, here I would like to remind you of one of the statements of Abu'l-Fadl, one of the greatest scholars who ever came to the Cause of God. Abu'l-Fadl said that the claims of the Prophets or any claim should coincide in concord with the proofs. Claims and proofs should agree. Then he gives an example. Suppose someone comes says that he is a physician. When you ask him about his proofs and he says, "Bring me your patients. I'll give prescriptions and they will be all right," this is fine and good. But if this man says that he is a physician because he can jump up on his head from the top of the roof in the middle of street, then, `Abu'l-Fadl says, it is something to watch, and interesting, but even if he does it, it does not prove that he is a physician, because the proof and the claim are not suitable to each other.
Now, when the Prophet Muhammad came, or when Jesus Christ came, or any of the Prophets, what was their claim? Jesus Christ said, "I am the life, I am the path, I am the truth. Through Me you can reach your heavenly Father." He never said that He came here to make miracles, and on the contrary, when people asked Him for miracles, he said that crooked generations only ask for miracles. Therefore, His miracle was the education of eleven people who took the mission of Jesus Christ on their shoulders after the death of Christ and spread it throughout the world. This is the greatest proof because He said He can not come for that purpose.
(Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, November 26, 1969)
There is another problem I would like to talk about, especially from the Words of the Báb, because I know that it is very hard for many of you to have a glimpse of the Writings of the Báb.
To me, many of the hard problems of all the religions of God have been explained by the Báb, very easily. He brought these things from Heaven to earth, and said this is what it means. For instance, one is about to go on pilgrimage to Mecca. You see, the Muslims make pilgrimage to Mecca in order to circumambulate a little house. It is smaller than this room, on the corner of which there is a black stone installed. That is all.
The Báb said that this is a warning to the people, this pilgrimage. This is a means to awaken in them some understanding. Thus it is that a little piece of stone is the object of approval and adoration of a Prophet and becomes the center for pilgrimage for millions of people to come and circumambulate around it. Then He said that it is a sign, it is a token. God teaches you with your material life on this earth. If your heart will be so purified as to be approved and accepted by God, be sure that millions of angels will circumambulate your house day and night, and yo will be always inspired to do services and to reach the highest pinnacle of achievements. This is a wonderful explanation about this great problem and the purification of one's heart.
The second one is this. What do we pray? The Báb says that when we pray, want do we take to God, what do we talk to Him about, what do we offer Him? Do you offer your knowledge? He is the source of knowledge. Do you offer Him your wealth? Do you offer Him your strength, the strength of body or mental strength? All those things are not even worthy of being mentioned in the sight of God.
Therefore, why do we pray? The Báb says that He will give an example. Suppose you want to go and visit a king. You will go here and there and ask many people what is it that the king does not have in his treasury, because you would like to take it as a gift to him. If someone says that you can take a moonstone from Australia because he does not have it, then you will take it to him
Now if you take all the treasures of the world, God has them; all of the knowledge of the world. He is the source of it; strength, He is the source of power. But as the Báb says, and as I advise and tell you, there is one thing that God does not have in His treasure house, and that is nothingness. Take your nothingness to Him. When you sit down in front of Him and pray, have an attitude that you are nothing as compared with God. You take that attitude, and He says that this will immediately be acceptable.
Now the third one is this beautiful explanation. Ever since I found this, I have given it, even when I meet one individual Bahá'í, because I like it so much.
The Báb says that there are seven stages. Every existence, every living thing, or non-living thing, must go through these seven stages, from its birth to its death. I want to explain this because of the problem of prayers. It relates to that.
First of all, He says, suppose you are sitting here, in your room and you think about your life, your requirements, and whatever you need for your life, and so on. Suppose suddenly you think that you need a table. He says as long as you are sitting here, it is in the stage of desire. Only you desire to have a table. But the moment you decide and you get up to do something about it, the desire is changed into will. Now the third thing is matter. You need some material for it. You go and choose the best planks of wood that are available, and you are free to do so throughout the world -- fly to South America or Yemen where they have beautiful black wood. After that you need someone to make it for you. You need a carpenter. Again, you are free to choose anyone you like throughout the world. Would you like to have the best carpenters of Denmark who are very famous for their furniture? All right, go to Denmark and have it done. And when you take your material to the carpenter and tell him you want a table, he asks, "What kind of table?" You say that you want a desk. How large do you want it? Here also you are free to give him the measurements. All right, you give him the measurements. You give him everything.
From here on your freedom is stopped. Why? Because when you go home, the planks of wood you gave to the carpenter have been cut according to your measurements. But now you say you wanted a desk really five by nine, and you told him three by four. When you go back, he says that he has already cut the wood.
Now, the Báb says, here is where your prayers will not have any effect. It's cut and you cannot change it. You cannot take it back to its original form. Up to that point you must attract the attention of God. You must devotedly pray to God that each step you take will be guided by Him, until such time as you give your final decision. When the final decision is made, then no matter how much you pray, it's impossible to change it.
You see how much is in these seven steps. Five steps are in our own hands. Then there is the sixth step, which is completion, and the seventh one is death. For everything there is a time to die.
Therefore, whatever we want to do, please think it over, pray for the guidance of God, for the material, for the proper men to do it, anything we want, and then God will kindly out of His own bounty, our of His own favor, guide us. But after we have made our decision, determination, and decided upon something, then there is no use of praying.
The same this is true about the education of our children. I have emphasized and repeatedly said from the words of `Abdu'l-Bahá that from childhood, our children must be under the sunshine of the Faith. The breeze of the mercy of God should be wafted upon them from their own childhood. But we leave them to the age of twenty or twenty-five, and then go to the friends and say, "Please, my son is twenty-five years old and he has not yet declared. Can you help me? At that time when there is no more help, scarcely any prayer will do, because the whole destiny of the child is sealed.
How to Study the Kitáb-i-Íqán
(Sydney, Australia, Saturday, November 29, 1969)
There are several ways in which we can study the Book of Íqán, and I suggest all of them. Please, again try to form a class where you will study the Book of Íqán together. It brings us all together. It creates a certain love, a certain sense of cooperation when we search the treasures of the Book of Íqán.
The most important subject matter - I will give you an outline. Suppose this is the class. The first group will be responsible that as we read the Iqán to write down the sentences pertaining to your own topic. The second group, another topic, the third, another one, and so on. When we study the Íqán for five or six months and to come to the end, then each of the students in the class will have a certain collection from the Book of Íqán. Then we can together study subject by subject.
For instance, the Prophets of God. Whatever Bahá'u'lláh has written in the Book of Íqán about the Prophets of God, let one of you copy it. Their Station: how Bahá'u'lláh introduces the Prophets of God, Their proofs. When you have gathered all these materials and study them together, your information about the Prophets of God will be almost complete, because you have produced it according to what Bahá'u'lláh has told you.
The second is the meaning of Divine Sovereignty, Divine Kingship. What is the meaning?
Third, that a certain class of people in all religions of God existed by the name of clergy. How has Bahá'u'lláh introduced them in the Book of Íqán? When you read that, you will understand why Bahá'u'lláh has canceled this class of people in the Bahá'í Faith. We do not have any class of clergy in the Bahá'í Faith.
Knowledge: Human knowledge and Divine knowledge. He explains both of them. What does He mean by human knowledge and Divine knowledge? What is the difference between these two, and which one of them is most acceptable?
Then the veils, veils which stand between us and God. What are the veils?
Tests. Divine tests. Many people are afraid of tests. Bahá'u'lláh has ordained tests for our own self-protection. In the Book of Íqán it is said, "Do you think when you say I believe, God will abandon you? ("Even as He hath revealed: `Do men think when they say `We believe' they shall be let alone and not be put to proof?") No, God will test your faith. After having tests we will become stronger and stronger in our faith. Once a Bahá'í pilgrim in the presence of the beloved Master asked Him: "Beloved Master, pray that Bahá'u'lláh will not test me."
 Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp: 8-9)