I have been thinking about the issue of Kingship in the Baha'i writings. This is for me one of the hardest teachings of Baha'u'llah to accept, as I am an American through and through. I think this teaching gets largely ignored by Baha'is, since we are probably all rather uncomfortable with the praise Baha'u'llah gives to the institution of kingship.
I am sure I am not the only Baha'i who has trouble accepting the statement that Kings are the Shadow of God on Earth. But I try.
I just want some thoughts from older Baha'is who might have had more time to study and consider this issue.
Often Baha'is will say that they think a Constitutional Monarchy is the best form of Government, presumably drawing that conclusion from Baha'u'llah's words in the Bisharat.
The Fifteenth Bisharat says:
"Although a republican form of government profiteth all the peoples of the world, yet the majesty of kingship is one of the signs of God. We do not wish that the countries of the world should remain deprived thereof. If the sagacious combine the two forms into one, great will be their reward in the presence of God."
What I am wondering is if that conclusion is right. Does the word Kingship in the original Arabic mean simple hereditary rule, or does it mean a ruler with actual power? (I am assuming this Tablet was orginally Arabic, legal stuff usually is I think)
In the Tablet of the World Baha'u'llah says:
According to the fundamental laws which We have formerly revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and other Tablets, all affairs are committed to the care of just kings and presidents and of the Trustees of the House of Justice. Having pondered on that which We have enunciated, every man of equity and discernment will readily perceive, with his inner and outer eyes, the splendours of the day-star of justice which radiate therefrom.
The system of government which the British people have adopted in London appeareth to be good, for it is adorned with the light of both kingship and of the consultation of the people.
I am seeing a contradiction here. Baha'u'llah seems to say in the first paragraph that kings ought to have actual legal power, but then He praises the British system. In the British system the Sovereign has very little legal power, right?
I know that Baha'u'llah praises the British Sovereign's actions regarding slavery, but my understanding is that the British Parliament had a lot more to do with that. So, was the British Sovereign considerably more powerful in the 1800's than she is now?
My understanding is that the Kingship Baha'u'llah is recommending is a good bit more powerful than what we associate with Constitutional Monarchy today, somewhat like what the King of Jordan has begun moving too (If you know me well, I have a small obsession with the King of Jordan, He is my idol ). In light of this, I take issue with a statement in a magazine introducing the Baha'i Faith I once read. It talked about how Monarchy, Communism, and many other political systems had been proven pointless by the 20th century,a nd only democracy remained. My understanding is that Baha'u'llah actually teaches a good mix of Monarchy, Democracy, and even socialism. So Pragmatism as a legal system.
In The Promised Day is Come Shoghi Effendi says:
No wonder that Bahá’u’lláh, in view of the treatment meted out to 71 Him by the sovereigns of the earth, should, as already quoted, have written these words: “From two ranks amongst men power hath been seized: kings and ecclesiastics.” Indeed, He even goes further, and states in His Tablet addressed to Shaykh Salmán: “One of the signs of the maturity of the world is that no one will accept to bear the weight of kingship. Kingship will remain with none willing to bear alone its weight. That day will be the day whereon wisdom will be manifested among mankind. Only in order to proclaim the Cause of God and spread abroad His Faith will anyone be willing to bear this grievous weight. Well is it with him who, for love of God and His Cause, and for the sake of God and for the purpose of proclaiming His Faith, will expose himself unto this great danger, and will accept this toil and trouble.”
Can we draw the conclusion that all the Kings of the future will be Baha'is from this statement? "Only in order to proclaim the Cause of God and spread abroad His Faith will anyone be willing to bear this grievous weight."