killing for killing, branding the forehead of the thief ...

All research or scholarship questions
farid
Posts: 84
Joined: Sat May 21, 2005 12:48 am
Contact:

killing for killing, branding the forehead of the thief ...

Postby farid » Fri Jun 17, 2005 3:11 am

... and treating the arsonist in kind : my assumtion is that these laws can't be changed by UHJ , as they are not conditional laws. If this is correct, then how do we answer to these potential questions:

- these are harsh laws and not appropriate for our modern world.

-in the case of branding the forehead, its useless, since the thief has the option of undoing this by plastic surgery.

- if these laws are to be executed when a Bahai government or a world government forms, then doesn't this fact that Bahai laws are expected to be hold then contradict the fact that religion and state should be separate? in other words, how can this interference of religion laws in the public arena reconcile with the separation of religion and state?

Guest

Postby Guest » Fri Jun 17, 2005 5:30 am

Yes, many people have this reaction to the Aqdas. Standard Baha'i reply is that the UHJ has not yet put them into effect, will determine when the time is right, blah blah blah, but this avoids the major issue--that a society based on the Aqdas would represent the very opposite of an advance in civilization.

As for separation of assembly and state, so to speak (a relatively new concern for Baha'is, I think) one interpretation might be that the punishments won't be meted out by the Baha'i authorities, it's just that with most of the world having converted to Bahaism, its secular legal system will naturally reflect this, just as the U.S. legal system is based on the Ten Commandments (or so some judge declared). Another solution might be for different religions to be divided into millets, as in the Ottoman Empire. So Baha'i arsonists would be burned, Jewish arsonists stoned (or whatever Jewish law says), and Satanist arsonists set free.

Hasan
Posts: 195
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:03 am
Location: Lima - Perú
Contact:

Re: killing for killing, branding the forehead of the thief

Postby Hasan » Fri Jun 17, 2005 11:00 am

farid wrote:...- if these laws are to be executed when a Bahai government or a world government forms, then doesn't this fact that Bahai laws are expected to be hold then contradict the fact that religion and state should be separate? in other words, how can this interference of religion laws in the public arena reconcile with the separation of religion and state?


Ok, Farid, you took two issues, one is the effectiveness of Bahá'u'lláh's Divine Laws, and the other is the application of such laws in the society.

First, I think it shouldn’t be the attitude of bahá’ís to “qualify” or “classify” or “judge” the Divine laws, the way we see such laws should be of “study” and “reflection” not to criticize them.

We cannot weight the holy laws with the currents of society. The Revelation is “normative” in character, the only Who knows what is the best for human individual and human society is God, not any human being (much learned or not) with his limited mind.

The application of such laws are progressive, most penal laws should be applied in the future and need and executive force; but in this time of embryonic development of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh (Bahá'í Administration) we cannot think is the time to apply all bahá’í laws.

I believe in the future when the Bahá’í Faith will be a major religion (in numbers of adherents and development), some States will want to apply Bahá’í Laws and principles. My position is not a full separation between Church and State, the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, the Bahá’í Commonwealth is something never seen in past, something new and implies not only a spiritual role, but also a civil and legal role in society.

See this link: http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_theocracy and read the concept of Bahá’í Theocracy and differences and current relationship between Church and State and future relationship.

Guest

Postby Guest » Fri Jun 17, 2005 11:37 am

Farid, there's nothing in the Writings, to my knowledge, that suggests there will be an absolute separation of church and state in the future Baha'i commonwealth. There might be a vast separation during the Lesser Peace, but this is a transitional phase that has little to do with the Faith directly. Furthermore, there is much to suggest that the future commonwealth of nations will be a true theocracy and by "true" I mean, as opposed to the past false theocracies where government was ruled by the religious elite (clergy) against the will of the masses, the rule of law-in this case Baha'i Law-will be the result of a democraticly elected Administrative Order operating on Local and National Levels with the Universal House of Justice as It's Supreme Head.

As for the Law concerning the death penalty for murderers and the burning to death of the arsonist, one must try to understand that the Baha'i world will be dominated by justice and not mercy. Mercy is important. The same Law concerning the death penalty says that it would be righteous if the person were given life in prison instead, but these laws are meant for a time when justice, freed from the corruption that has made it synonymous with ineffectiveness, will rule all regions to the extent that people will not even consider commiting such crimes and if they do they will at least be detered by the dire consequences.

Also, the death penalty is considered a righteous Law in the Baha'i view because it allows the murderer to be redeemed in the next world by the taking of his life in this world. By taking his life in this world he won't have to pay for it in the next.

As for the arsonist, his punishment will be contingent on his crime. If he burns down an orphanage I think his punishment will be a lot worse than if he burns down an empty barnhouse. I can't imagine what he might burn down that would warrant the fullest penalty though, but I know it must be possible to do something big or Baha'u'llah wouldn't have pronounced such a heavy possible sentence.

Keyvan

Postby Keyvan » Fri Jun 17, 2005 12:12 pm

Anonymous wrote:Yes, many people have this reaction to the Aqdas. Standard Baha'i reply is that the UHJ has not yet put them into effect, will determine when the time is right, blah blah blah, but this avoids the major issue--that a society based on the Aqdas would represent the very opposite of an advance in civilization..


what you call an "advance" refers to social structures you were raised with.
imagine europe after the rise of Christianity. people had the same attitude towards the relatively "conservative policies"

you cant compare the law of man with the law of God.

Hasan
Posts: 195
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:03 am
Location: Lima - Perú
Contact:

Postby Hasan » Fri Jun 17, 2005 12:45 pm

Anonymous wrote:Yes, many people have this reaction to the Aqdas. Standard Baha'i reply is that the UHJ has not yet put them into effect, will determine when the time is right, blah blah blah, but this avoids the major issue--that a society based on the Aqdas would represent the very opposite of an advance in civilization..


Mr. "Anonymous" :D some Divine laws are unchangeable, perpetual until next Dispensation, but some laws not, because they are circumscribed to the change of conditions in earth. In Islam some laws were given by the Prophet Himself, but others posterior laws were human interpretations made by ecclesiastics and all this conform the Shari a.

But in the Bahá'í Faith, the legislation needed in society not mentioned in the Book or supplementary legislation through the Universal House of Justice has the gift of infallibility and is divinely guided. This ensures “the continuity of that divinely-appointed authority which flows from the Source of our Faith”, and also safeguards “the unity of its followers”. Because their members are democratically elected by the whole Bahá’í World and because the Bahá’í Order is not created by humans, rather by the Manifestation Himself.

So when you said “a society based on the Aqdas would represent the very opposite of an advance in civilization” is grotesque and reflects your poor trust in the revealed word.

Hasan
Posts: 195
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:03 am
Location: Lima - Perú
Contact:

Postby Hasan » Fri Jun 17, 2005 1:04 pm

To see a wide panorama about Bahá’í Law, download the article of Dr. Udo Schaefer, “An introduction to Bahá’í Law: Doctrinal foundations, Principles and Structures” at http://www.familieschaefer.de/articles_e1.htm

farid
Posts: 84
Joined: Sat May 21, 2005 12:48 am
Contact:

Postby farid » Fri Jun 17, 2005 3:03 pm

Thank you all. Would you please also write your thoughts on the second case: branding the head of thief is useless, because of the option of plasitc surgery to the thief.
Do you think of the purpose for this law as a condition which is not met today, making it possible for UHJ to abrogate it?

New Being
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2005 12:21 pm

Postby New Being » Fri Jun 17, 2005 5:05 pm

Dear Farid,

Just to let you know, now that I have a username and would like to stay consistent, my previous response was the one that began with the sentance

"Farid, there's nothing in the Writings, to my knowledge, that suggests there will be an absolute separation of church and state in the future Baha'i commonwealth."

Now I'd like to comment on the mark upon the brow of the thief Law. First, notice it says nothing about "branding"

"Exile and imprisonment are decreed for the thief, and, on the third offence, place ye a mark upon his brow so that, thus identified, he may not be accepted in the cities of God and His countries. Beware lest, through compassion, ye neglect to carry out the statutes of the religion of God; do that which hath been bidden you by Him Who is compassionate and merciful. We school you with the rod of wisdom and laws, like unto the father who educateth his son, and this for naught but the protection of your own selves and the elevation of your stations. By My life, were ye to discover what We have desired for you in revealing Our holy laws, ye would offer up your very souls for this sacred, this mighty, and most exalted Faith."

So the mark could be something like the devices law enforcement use to keep track of criminals under house arrest.

As far as the questions that you've repeated please refer back to my previous post as a guest for clarification.

majnun
Posts: 247
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2005 11:56 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

ok, get rid of the verse

Postby majnun » Fri Jun 17, 2005 11:00 pm

This is a touchy subject, but should we
let a word or two be a barrier to our good
deeds, our development ?

If it is the case and if it block so many people
from immersion, maybe we should demand
a revision of the Aqdas, by the U H J. The U H J
has the power to make those kind of decision.
not us, but we may signal this little "irritant" as
being a little brake for the Cause.

Hasan
Posts: 195
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:03 am
Location: Lima - Perú
Contact:

Postby Hasan » Sat Jun 18, 2005 12:30 am

farid wrote:Thank you all. Would you please also write your thoughts on the second case: branding the head of thief is useless, because of the option of plasitc surgery to the thief.
Do you think of the purpose for this law as a condition which is not met today, making it possible for UHJ to abrogate it?


Dear Farid, I think no, please see this extract of the introduction in the Aqdas:

Although the Universal House of Justice is explicitly
authorized to change or repeal its own legislation as
conditions change, thus providing Baha'i law with an
essential element of flexibility, it cannot abrogate or change
any of the laws which are explicitly laid down in the sacred
Text.

farid
Posts: 84
Joined: Sat May 21, 2005 12:48 am
Contact:

Postby farid » Sat Jun 18, 2005 3:13 pm

New Being
you are right about "mark" vs. "branding". I always thought since it is to be put on the forehead, it must be a visual thing, so it can easily be seen and the thief cannot hide it. Also this mark must be something that cannot be removed easily. I don't know if we can say that an electronic device is a mark. To me mark seems more like a visual thing that can be detected by anyone who sees it, not those who only have the detector, so this person cannot fool ordinary people who may not have this detector, as thieves most likely target ordinary people, unless all the people are somehow provided with this detector.
Also , laws of Bahaullah should have been acted upon in the last 150 years(in other words we believe they were practical if people would have been ready and accepting) and during most of this time there were no such advanced technology available , and also no platic surgery. Good thing that sciece also brings the antidote!
thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

simon

Postby simon » Sat Jun 18, 2005 5:12 pm

I would challenge the notion that branding could be removed by plastic surgery completely.
If 200 people, say, were branded in the same way and sought surgery, no doubt they would all have some faint mark or scar in the same place and would therefore be instantly recognisable as a formely branded thief.

Although this process sounds barbaric, I guess we have to have faith and go with it and for reasons we perhaps cannot currently grasp, it will work.

Perhaps in the bahai "utopia" the system of social control needs to have "teeth" somewhere along the line to control the most difficult members of society, perhaps this is the most appropriate place.

brettz9
Posts: 1366
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Sat Jun 18, 2005 5:33 pm

On death penalty and arson

"...merely the fundamental principles of the punishments for murder and arson are given in the Kitab-i-Aqdas. Willful murder is to be punished either by capital punishment or life imprisonment. Such matters as degrees of offense and whether any extenuating circumstances are to be taken into account, and which of the two prescribed punishments is to be the norm are left to the Universal House of Justice to decide in light of prevailing conditions when the law is in operation. Arson, as you yourself can see from the newspapers, is becoming an increasingly frequent offense-scarcely a day passes without some building being burned or blown up, often causing agonizing death to innocent people. Bahá'u'lláh prescribes that a person who burns a house intentionally is to be burned or imprisoned for life, bur again, the application of these punishments, the method of carrying them out and the fixing of degrees of offense are left to the Universal House of Justice. Obviously there is a tremendous difference in the degree of the offense of a person who burns down an empty warehouse from that of one who sets fire to a school full of children."

(Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-86)



"Shoghi Effendi, in response to a question about this verse of the Aqdas, affirmed that while capital punishment is permitted, an alternative, "life imprisonment", has been provided "whereby the rigours of such a condemnation can be seriously mitigated". He states that "Bahá'u'lláh has given us a choice and has, therefore, left us free to use our own discretion within certain limitations imposed by His law". In the absence of specific guidance concerning the application of this aspect of Bahá'í law, it remains for the Universal House of Justice to legislate on the matter in the future."

(Notes to the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, no. 87)


"Moses lived in the wilderness of Sinai where crime necessitated direct punishment. There were no penitentiaries or penalties of imprisonment. Therefore, according to the exigency of the time and place it was a law of God that an eye should be given for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. It would not be practicable to enforce this law at the present time--for instance, to blind a man who accidentally blinded you. In the Torah there are many commands concerning the punishment of a murderer. It would not be allowable or possible to carry out these ordinances today. Human conditions and exigencies are such that even the question of capital punishment--the one penalty which most nations have continued to enforce for murder--is now under discussion by wise men who are debating its advisability. In fact, laws for the ordinary conditions of life are only valid temporarily."

('Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 365)



On theft:

"Bahá'u'lláh states that the determination of the degree of penalty, in accordance with the seriousness of the offence, rests with the House of Justice (Q and A 49). The punishments for theft are intended for a future condition of society, when they will be supplemented and applied by the Universal House of Justice."

(On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Notes, no. 70)


"IV.D.1.y, Arson, adultery, murder and theft are all forbidden to Bahá'ís, but the punishments prescribed for them in the Kitab-i-Aqdas are designed for a future state of society. Such matters are usually covered by the civil laws of each country."
(On behalf of? the Universal House of Justice, at http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_laws ... nding.html )


"The mark to be placed on the thief's forehead serves the purpose of warning people of his proclivities. All details concerning the nature of the mark, how the mark is to be applied, how long it must be worn, on what conditions it may be removed, as well as the seriousness of various degrees of theft have been left by Bahá'u'lláh for the Universal House of Justice to determine when the law is applied."

(On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Notes, no. 71)

Dawud
Posts: 97
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2004 11:59 pm

Postby Dawud » Sun Jun 19, 2005 11:54 pm

Hasan, I'm the "guest" of the second post. It gives my name automatically when I post from work, but not from home, and I often let it slide.

Here's a bit of trouble-making over the Aqdas. Penalty for adultery is a fine of gold, "to be doubled with each offense." Now calculate how many acts of adultery it would take to exhaust the entire supply of gold on the earth. I think about one lusty weekend would be enough...

farid
Posts: 84
Joined: Sat May 21, 2005 12:48 am
Contact:

Postby farid » Mon Jun 20, 2005 12:32 am

Dawud
This is an interesting issue to talk about since it has many facets. If someone has taken distance from the faith for awhile and committed adultery many times, but later he regrets it and wants to repent and desires to pay what he owes, it will be alot of money(or gold). I don't know how he should pay. Should he work and pay all he earns till the end of his life?
So this is the way I see the problem , not in the way you have mentioned it, of course the gold is limited, but first of all I think it's the value of gold, not necessary the gold itself.Secone, even if it is gold, it can be bought and used over and over!!
But if someone is a religious person all the time but slips one time, then this law is a good deterent for him to be more cautious and careful and think about what he does before it's too late. Since otherwise, he has to pay alot of money.
Another question I have is that :is there a special way to pay so the guilty person doesn't have to face the shame of others knowing it?
otherwise it's so easy to see that even if he wants to pay, he doen't because he doesn't want others to know.

Hasan
Posts: 195
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:03 am
Location: Lima - Perú
Contact:

Postby Hasan » Mon Jun 20, 2005 9:29 am

Dawud wrote:Hasan, I'm the "guest" of the second post. It gives my name automatically when I post from work, but not from home, and I often let it slide.

Oh, I

Here's a bit of trouble-making over the Aqdas. Penalty for adultery is a fine of gold, "to be doubled with each offense." Now calculate how many acts of adultery it would take to exhaust the entire supply of gold on the earth. I think about one lusty weekend would be enough...


Why problem? The perpetrator has to think more than twice before commit the act :wink: Adultery is a pain for your soul and your wallet :o what about suffer next world for this act? :
If he or she, commit this more than once, the divorce sound good, I am not married but I'd don't accept this :)

brettz9
Posts: 1366
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Mon Jun 20, 2005 11:17 am

Dear Hasan,

I think the term "adultery" can be misleading here...

Although the term translated here as adultery refers, in its broadest sense, to unlawful sexual intercourse between either married or unmarried individuals (see note 36 for a definition of the term), 'Abdu'l-Bahá has specified that the punishment here prescribed is for sexual intercourse between persons who are unmarried. He indicates that it remains for the Universal House of Justice to determine the penalty for adultery committed by a married individual. (See also Q and A 49.)

(Notes to the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, no. 77)

brettz9
Posts: 1366
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Mon Jun 20, 2005 11:24 am

Another question I have is that :is there a special way to pay so the guilty person doesn't have to face the shame of others knowing it?
otherwise it's so easy to see that even if he wants to pay, he doen't because he doesn't want others to know.


Besides for certain obvious crimes (or for making apologies for someone they have hurt), Bahá'ís are not confess their sins. And though Assemblies (future Houses of Justice) are to dispense justice, they are also not to pry. If an act of extramarital relations was not discovered, unlike with the Jewish law, there are no public laws for atonement. And if an individual did feel compelled to share this with his Assembly (by then, probably a Local House of Justice) , it may be that the purpose of shaming the individual into returning to a good conscience and actions, would not be necessary given their willingness to bring the matter forth. But again, I don't think it would be seen as necessary.

brettz9
Posts: 1366
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Mon Jun 20, 2005 11:32 am

If someone has taken distance from the faith for awhile and committed adultery many times, but later he regrets it and wants to repent and desires to pay what he owes, it will be alot of money(or gold). I don't know how he should pay. Should he work and pay all he earns till the end of his life?


Those who it is determined leave the Faith temporarily to avoid application of Bahá'í law, will still be responsible for their actions, as I recall. However, a person who may leave the Faith for other reasons and then return to it, would not be responsible. But again, I don't believe there is any kind of atonement expected for actions not discovered (unless perhaps the individual wished)...

Hasan
Posts: 195
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:03 am
Location: Lima - Perú
Contact:

Postby Hasan » Mon Jun 20, 2005 11:33 am

Thanks Brett, I know adultery comprehends married and unmarried persons, for both cases: What is the worst punishment? To pay “gold” or "the exposure of the offenders"? I think the second one.


7. God hath imposed a fine on every adulterer and
adulteress, to be paid to the House of Justice # 49

Although the term translated here as adultery refers, in its
broadest sense, to unlawful sexual intercourse between
either married or unmarried individuals (see note 36 for a
definition of the term), 'Abdu'l-Bahá has specified that the
punishment here prescribed is for sexual intercourse
between persons who are unmarried. He indicates that it
remains for the Universal House of Justice to determine the
penalty for adultery committed by a married individual.
(See also Q and A 49.)
In one of His Tablets, 'Abdu'l-Bahá refers to some of
the spiritual and social implications of the violation of the
laws of morality and, concerning the penalty here described,
He indicates that the aim of this law is to make clear to all
that such an action is shameful in the eyes of God and that,
in the event that the offence can be established and the fine
imposed, the principal purpose is the exposure of the
offenders -- that they are shamed and disgraced in the eyes of
society. He affirms that such exposure is in itself the
greatest punishment.
The House of Justice referred to in this verse is
presumably the Local House of Justice, currently known as
the Local Spiritual Assembly.


Return to “Discussion”