Can Someone Answer My Question?

All research or scholarship questions
Abu Talib
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Can Someone Answer My Question?

Postby Abu Talib » Wed May 20, 2009 9:22 pm

Good day everyone,

Baha'u'llah mentions in Kitab-i-Aqdas:

"All that thou hast heard regarding Muhammad the son of Hasan - may the souls of all that are immersed in the oceans of the spirit be offered up for His sake - is true beyond the shadow of a doubt, and we all verily bear allegiance unto Him. But the Imams of the Faith have fixed His (Muhammad, son of Hasan) abode in the city of Jabulqa, which they have depicted in strange and marvelous signs. To interpret this city according to the literal meaning of the tradition would indeed prove impossible, nor can such a city ever be found. Wert thou to search the uttermost corners of the earth, nay probe its length and breadth for as long as God's eternity hath lasted and His sovereignty will endure, thou wouldst never find a city such as they have described, for the entirety of the earth could neither contain nor encompass it. If thou wouldst lead Me unto this city, I could assuredly lead thee unto this holy Being, Whom the people have conceived according to what they possess and not to that which pertaineth unto Him! We have chosen here to be brief in our elucidation of the meanings of Jabulqa, but if thou be of them that truly believe, thou shalt indeed comprehend all the true meanings of the mysteries enshrined within these Tablets." (Gems of Divine Mysteries, pages 36-37)

This passage makes mention of a mystical city by the name of Jabulqa, the residence of Muhammad the son of Hasan, also known as the Twelvth Imam, thereby confirming its existence. Jabulqa was first mentioned in the writings of Shaykh Ahmad Ahsa'i, the unintended founder of the Shaykhi tradition, alongside its sister city Jabulsa. Jabulqa and Jabulsa, according to Ahsa'i's teachings, were located in the realm of Hurqalya, a world between the physical and spiritual worlds. Ahsa'i taught that the Twelvth Imam did not exist in the physical realm, as was the orthodox Shi'i belief, but in Hurqalya.

No mention, prior to the writings of Shaykh Ahmad Ahsa'i, of Hurqalya, Jabulqa, or Jabulsa were ever made in any authentic scripture of Shi'i Islam. This would undoubtedly mean that Ahsa'i was the originator of these beliefs, constructing them either from non-Islamic sources or his own mind. When Baha'u'llah confirms their existence in the Gems of Divine Mysteries he has declared to be true elements outside of Islam, a religion of God which Baha'u'llah himself claimed to fulfill. All being said, this would make Baha'u'llah to be a false prophet.

Can anyone disprove me?
The Holy Prophet (saww) said, "O Ali, you are to me as Harun was to Musa, but there will be no prophet after me."

brettz9
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Re: Can Someone Answer My Question?

Postby brettz9 » Thu May 21, 2009 3:49 am

As far as Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i, the Baha'i Writings state that he was the first of the "twin luminaries that heralded the advent of the Faith of the Báb" (Citadel of Faith, p. 101). In paragraph 157 the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha'u'llah also makes reference to a prophecy of Shaykh Ahmad (see the two notes leading from the link on that paragraph if you are interested).

Baha'u'llah also explains in the Kitab-i-Iqan (His next most important work after the Kitab-i-Aqdas), that the passage in Matthew 24:30 of the Bible refers to some signs that must appear in the physical heaven and also in individual(s) who come before the Manifestation to herald Their coming, specifically mentioning him here as well:

And now, concerning His words: "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven." By these words it is meant that when the sun of the heavenly teachings hath been eclipsed, the stars of the divinely-established laws have fallen, and the moon of true knowledge — the educator of mankind — hath been obscured; when the standards of guidance and felicity have been reversed, and the morn of truth and righteousness hath sunk in night, then shall the sign of the Son of man appear in heaven. By "heaven" is meant the visible heaven, inasmuch as when the hour draweth nigh on which the Day-star of the heaven of justice shall be made manifest, and the Ark of divine guidance shall sail upon the sea of glory, a star will appear in the heaven, heralding unto its people the advent of that most great light. In like manner, in the invisible heaven a star shall be made manifest who, unto the peoples of the earth, shall act as a harbinger of the break of that true and exalted Morn. These twofold signs, in the visible and the invisible heaven, have announced the Revelation of each of the Prophets of God, as is commonly believed....

And now concerning this wondrous and most exalted Cause. Know thou verily that many an astronomer hath announced the appearance of its star in the visible heaven. Likewise, there appeared on earth Ahmad and Kázím, those twin resplendent lights — may God sanctify their resting-place!

(Kitab-i-Iqan, paragraphs 66 and 72)


So it is clear that the Baha'i Faith accepts Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i and Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti as inspired luminaries preparing the people for the coming of the Bab and then Baha'u'llah.

The question I think worth asking is who makes a tradition authentic? Did His Holiness Muhammad reveal in writing a clear means by which this would be done and guarantee that it would be infallibly executed? The Qur'anic Dispensation does not contain such a claim.

While it is understandable that people would seek to transmit and establish means to preserve unrecorded aspects of the Revelation, they could not be guaranteed a way to do so with absolute perfection.

While Baha'u'llah does Himself even cite "authentic traditions" in His explanations (He states He only does so out of love for the recipient of the Iqan), I think we must appreciate that He is Himself the proof. Just as the Christian or Jewish leaders relied on their own faulty traditions, or at least faulty understanding of those traditions, so too ought a reflective Muslim consider it possible that in the Day of Judgment, a Muslim might do so also.

So, from a Baha'i perspective, if indeed no mention has been made of Jabulqa in previous authentic traditions, I think we would take that to mean that either:

1) it was an unauthenticated tradition which Shaykh Ahmad was inspired to confirm (inspired by the imminent coming of the Promised One). We ought to keep in mind that unauthenticated in no way means it is necessarily unauthentic, only that previous Islamic scholars have not recognized it. There's a big difference. And if the Manifestation of God Himself confirms it, whether directly or indirectly, it is not for anyone to question it, as He is Himself the real proof. Do you think someone must check Christian and Jewish books before accepting His Holiness Muhammad as God's Prophet, or isn't His Book (not to mention the positive influence of His teachings on past civilization, etc.) a sufficient proof for them and everyone?

2) Baha'u'llah may have been merely speaking according to the understanding of the people, using a term familiar to them, not to endorse a literal view of it (on the contrary, He clearly was not), but instead to co-opt the people's traditions--whether they were even legitimate or not--into something which could lead them to God's latest Messenger. As a letter on behalf of the Universal House of Justice states about another Shi'ih term:

Some sayings of the Manifestation are clear and obvious. Among these are laws of behaviour. Others are elucidations which lead men from their present level of understanding to a new one. Others are pregnant allusions, the significance of which only becomes apparent as the knowledge and understanding of the reader grow. And all are integral parts of one great Revelation intended to raise mankind to a new level of its evolution.

It may well be that we shall find some statement is couched in terms familiar to the audience to which it was first addressed, but is strange now to us. For example, in answer to a question about Bahá'u'lláh's reference to the "Fourth Heaven" in the Kitab-i-Iqan, the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf:

"Regarding the ascension of His Holiness Christ to the fourth heaven revealed in the Book of Certitude, Shoghi Effendi says that the phrase 'fourth heaven' is used to conform with the ancient astronomers' terms and theories which were upheld by the followers of the Shi'ih sect, and since the Book of Certitude was originally revealed for the guidance of that sect, the above phrase, therefore, was used in conformity with their theories."
(Translated from the Arabic)

(at http://bahai-library.com/file.php?file= ... _abdulbaha )


best wishes,
Brett

Abu Talib
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Re: Can Someone Answer My Question?

Postby Abu Talib » Sun May 24, 2009 9:18 am

Let me state simply what I mean. Hurqalya is not an Islamic concept. More so, it appears nowhere in Islam that Imam Mahdi (as) resides there. Hurqalya is of Greek origin. This is also true of Jabulsa and Jabulqa. These terms and their meanings were first taught as though they were apart of Islam by Shaykh Ahmad, but they weren't, they were of Greek origin as stated before. This would make these ideas false because they come from outside of Islam. If they were false then that would make Baha'u'llah a false prophet because he proclaimed to be true a false teaching.
The Holy Prophet (saww) said, "O Ali, you are to me as Harun was to Musa, but there will be no prophet after me."

AdibM
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Re: Can Someone Answer My Question?

Postby AdibM » Sun May 24, 2009 1:41 pm

Dear Abu Talib,

First, the suggestion that the concept of the realm of Hurqaliyyah ('Alam-i Mithal) and the twin cities of Jubalqa and Jabalsa/Jabarsa started with Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i is not true. These notions are at least as old as the great Muslim philosopher Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi the founder of one of the most important schools of Muslim philosophy (Illuminationism) who lived in the 12th century (1155 - 1191) some 500 years before Shaykh Ahmad. Check page 147 of his "Book of Conversations."

Second, neither Shaykh Ahmad nor Baha'u'llah ever claimed these cities actually existed in the physical realm. By definition, 'Alam-i-Mithal means "The Realm of the Abstract." Hurqaliyyah is supposedly a realm that exists between the realm of the angels (Malakut) and our physical realm (Nasut/Mulk).

In short, both Shaykh Ahmad and Baha'u'llah are essentially accepting the messianic notion of a Promised One (Messiah) which in Shi'ah Islam is expected to be Imam Mahdi but rejecting the widely held Shiah belief that the 11th Imam actually had a son who went into hiding or occultation as a child.

Bahá’í theology revolves around the notion that God's grace will never cease from flowing. Thus, for as long as there is humanity, we will need God's guidance according to the needs of the times and eras in which we live. Therefore, God will continue to send humanity Guides/Prophets. Hence, to Baha'is, neither Muhammad, nor Baha'u'llah, nor any future prophet will ever be the LAST prophet because that would mean that God's greatest bounty (ceaseless guidance) will no longer apply to humanity.

Baha'is believe, in the grand scheme of things, Muslim expectation of their Messiah (Mahdi) is no different than the Christian expectation of Christ's second coming, or the Jewish anticipation of their Messiah (Lord of Hosts/Rabb al-Junud), the Zoroastrian return of Shah Bahram, the Hindu expectation of the appearance of the 10th Avatar of Krishna, or the Buddhist anticipation of the 5th Buddha (Buddha Metteyya).

If you study the prophecies about these religious messiahs, you will notice a pattern: They all are supposed to bring peace and justice to earth and humanity. That's the essence of Baha'u'llah's teachings: He teaches that we can achieve peace and justice on earth when we acknowledge our unity as brothers and sisters all over the planet and begin treating each other as members of the same family - the human family. I hope this was helpful.

Best Regards,
Adib
"To be a Bahá'í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood." -- `Abdu'l-Bahá

brettz9
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Re: Can Someone Answer My Question?

Postby brettz9 » Sun May 24, 2009 6:08 pm

Hello all,

Abu Talib, thank you for providing more background, but my points also essentially still remain.

Baha'u'llah and Shaykh Ahmad could be co-opting the terminology of the people, even if they aren't endorsing the historical accuracy of the tradition behind the concept (assuming it is even false, as it sounds like Adib has information that suggests that it might be true).

However, I must raise one disagreement with Adib that Baha'u'llah and Shaykh Ahmad were "rejecting the widely held Shiah belief that the 11th Imam actually had a son who went into hiding or occultation as a child." As Abu Talib already cited, Baha'u'llah wrote,

"All that thou hast heard regarding Muhammad the son of Hasan - may the souls of all that are immersed in the oceans of the spirit be offered up for His sake - is true beyond the shadow of a doubt, and we all verily bear allegiance unto Him. But the Imáms of the Faith have fixed His abode in the city of Jábulqá,[35] which they have depicted in strange and marvellous signs. To interpret this city according to the literal meaning of the tradition would indeed prove impossible, nor can such a city ever be found."

(Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 36)


(This does not at all mean we believe the 12th Imam was physically living for 1000 years, however.)

best wishes,
Brett

Abu Talib
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Re: Can Someone Answer My Question?

Postby Abu Talib » Sun May 24, 2009 9:01 pm

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

I would like to thank those who have responded to my post.

First, I would like to point out that I might be mistaken by having said that Shaykh Ahmad Ahsa'i was the first to teach the belief of Hurqalya, along with Jabulsa and Jabulqa. It has been posted that a philosopher named Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi who preceded Ahsa'i by 500 years had also taught regarding these ideas. I have done no research on the validity of whether or not Suhrawardi in fact taught/wrote such, although I will assume it is true.

I would like to state that even though Suhrawardi had written about Hurqalya and the such even earlier than Ahsa'i does not make it be the truth. I will state again as I have before, nowhere in Shi'i Islam, being Quran or authentic hadith, is it written the idea of Hurqalya or the cities of Jabulsa or Jabulqa. I would challenge anyone to find me even a disputed hadith discussing these ideas. Because it is nowhere in Shi'i Islam it is a false teaching. Because Baha'u'llah declared this false teaching to be true, he is a false prophet, identified so through his ignorance regarding the revelation of Islam.

Second, to laugh at the plausibility that a man is able to live for 1,000 + years is utter appalling. For Allah/God reveals to mankind in the Quran, "And certainly We sent Nuh to his people, so he remained among them a thousand years save fifty years. And the deluge overtook them, while they were unjust." [29:14].
The Holy Prophet (saww) said, "O Ali, you are to me as Harun was to Musa, but there will be no prophet after me."

brettz9
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Re: Can Someone Answer My Question?

Postby brettz9 » Sun May 24, 2009 10:59 pm

Hello Abu Talib and all,

Because it is nowhere in Shi'i Islam it is a false teaching.


Does traditional Shi'i Islam record every action and saying of the Prophet? Why is it inconceivable that in the Day of the Great Announcement, that further teachings of the Prophet would be brought to light?

And again, even if this is not an authentic tradition, I don't see that Baha'u'llah or Shaykh Ahmad are even saying that it was authentic. The Manifestation of God is unconstrained in being able to bring new meaning to even idolatrous conventions. As 'Abdu'l-Baha points out, His Holiness Muhammad endorsed some practices which the idolaters followed, but does that mean He was in any way endorsing them or forced to follow them? Of course not.

Also, my statements about living 1000 years were not mocking. Our Sacred Writings do not take an official position on this (though there is an unauthentic account that the Imam died, and that His occultation is figurative, not literal). In the case of Noah, our Writings have this to say:

"The years of Noah are not years as we count them, and as our teachings do not state that this reference to years means His dispensation, we cannot interpret it this way."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 25, 1950; quoted in Lights of Guidance, no. 1659)


warm regards,
Brett

Abu Talib
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Re: Can Someone Answer My Question?

Postby Abu Talib » Tue May 26, 2009 10:35 pm

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

My point is that Hurqalya is confirmed by Baha'u'llah and that Hurqalya is not a part of Islam, furthermore, ahadith contradict with the basic elements of Hurqalya. I agree with you that messengers bringing a new revelation can make certain things either kosher or unkosher, although I will disagree with you on the topic of innovating a major concept into a previous revelation, this is just absurd. In my mind that would be the same as if a revelation declared Adam to be the first human being only to have the next succeeding revelation declare that a man named Richard was the first.
The Holy Prophet (saww) said, "O Ali, you are to me as Harun was to Musa, but there will be no prophet after me."

BruceDLimber
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Re: Can Someone Answer My Question?

Postby BruceDLimber » Wed May 27, 2009 8:12 am

Greetings!

Abu Talib wrote:The Holy Prophet (saww) said, "O Ali, you are to me as Harun was to Musa, but there will be no prophet after me."


Yes indeed, as as I already pointed out above, what the Qur'an specifically says is that there will be no nabi (minor prophet), NOT that there will be no more Ras'ul (major Divine Messenger)!

So this is no problem for us whatever!

And BTW, meaning no offense, your implication that nothing else but Islam exists (or that anything non-Islamic doesn't exist) tends to be absurd on its face!

Peace,

Bruce

Fadl
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Re: Can Someone Answer My Question?

Postby Fadl » Wed May 27, 2009 8:14 pm

Abu Talib wrote:Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

My point is that Hurqalya is confirmed by Baha'u'llah and that Hurqalya is not a part of Islam, furthermore, ahadith contradict with the basic elements of Hurqalya. I agree with you that messengers bringing a new revelation can make certain things either kosher or unkosher, although I will disagree with you on the topic of innovating a major concept into a previous revelation, this is just absurd. In my mind that would be the same as if a revelation declared Adam to be the first human being only to have the next succeeding revelation declare that a man named Richard was the first.


Hi Abu talib,

Welcome back, its been awhile!

What is confirmed by Baha'u'llah is the belief or teaching of Hurqalya, not the reality or existence of such a place. Baha'u'llah uses it to confirm that the Mahdi is a spiritual reality and not a physical one as the Shia believe.

Also, when you say Hurqalya is not a part of Islam, what do you mean? There are a great many things that are part of Islam (i.e. believed or practiced by professing Muslims) that are not in the Qur'an. However, being part of Islam is a different argument than not being part of the Qur'an, so please clarify what you mean by this. Do you mean that Asahi was not a Muslim, or do you merely mean that his beliefs differ from your own?

By the way, have you never heard the Islamic teaching that the messengers of God speak according to the capacity of men that God's messengers not be called liars? If Baha'u'llah mentioned an Aesop fable, I hope you wouldn't accuse him of advocating the existence of speaking bears!


Nevertheless, Baha'u'llah is not the first messenger of God to be called a liar, as I'm sure you know.
"Thus doth the Nightingale utter His call unto you from this prison. He hath but to deliver this clear message. Whosoever desireth, let him turn aside from this counsel and whosoever desireth let him choose the path to his Lord." - Baha'u'llah

brettz9
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Re: Can Someone Answer My Question?

Postby brettz9 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:07 pm

A friend wishes to mention the following relevant reference:

Mir-Kasimov, Orkhan (editor); Ghaemmaghami, Omid (2014). "To the Abode of the Hidden One: The Green Isle in Shi'i, Early Shaykhi, and Babi-Baha'i Sacred Topography". Unity in Diversity: Mysticism, Messianism and the Construction of Religious Authority in Islam. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-26280-5.


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