is my bahai gf a Cov.Breaker? she disagrees with some things

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choogue
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is my bahai gf a Cov.Breaker? she disagrees with some things

Postby choogue » Wed Oct 18, 2006 11:50 am

Hi All,

As previously mentioned, my girlfriend is a Bahai however she doesnt agree with certain things in the Bahai faith. Would this make her a covenant breaker?

For example, she doesnt believe that the UHJ is infallible(are they?) nor does she believe that family should choose between following their faith or a family member who is labeled a covenant breaker.

She told me of a story where a member of the faith converted to Islam and his family had to choose him or the faith. His mum chose him but his father continued in the faith and therefore had to divorce his wife and never speak to his son.

So, firstly is that true if someone converts to another religion from bahai and secondly, if it is true, is my girlfriend a covenant breaker for not following this belief?

Abbas

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Re: Covenant Breaker?

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Oct 18, 2006 12:15 pm

abbas wrote:Hi All,

As previously mentioned, my girlfriend is a Bahai however she doesnt agree with certain things in the Bahai faith. Would this make her a covenant breaker?


Not until the UHJ calls someone a covenant breaker is he officially one. It is relatively rare that they will label someone a covenant breaker; he has to really harm the Faith, spread a lot of blasphemy, cause widespread damaging to the reputation of the Cause, etc.

abbas wrote:For example, she doesnt believe that the UHJ is infallible(are they?) nor does she believe that family should choose between following their faith or a family member who is labeled a covenant breaker.


As individuals they are just like you and me (fallible), but when they as a group assemble in unity, the decision that arises out of that meeting is certainly infallible.

abbas wrote:She told me of a story where a member of the faith converted to Islam and his family had to choose him or the faith. His mum chose him but his father continued in the faith and therefore had to divorce his wife and never speak to his son.


Certainly our love for God should be greater than even family members., especially wayward ones. It seems here if I understand correctly that the son said that either his parents choose Islam or he reject them (or he instructed them to accept him, not Islam—I don't fully understand the story)? Well, despite that, if I were the father I would have also continued the Faith obviously, as I think most Baha'is would wisely do in such a situation.

abbas wrote:So, firstly is that true if someone converts to another religion from bahai and secondly, if it is true, is my girlfriend a covenant breaker for not following this belief?


If it is brought to the attention of either NSA (or UHJ), she might have at least her administrative rights removed I believe.

My suggestion for you is to point her to Baha'i Texts where is clearly stated that the UHJ is infallible, in case she hasn't seen it. Any sort of anarchy in belief is a warning sign.

I don't know much about your situation, but if she persists I seriously suggest considering to not associating with her, because as the Writings state you should't associate with people who have such negative beliefs are say things contrary to the Writings, because their words are like venom and can turn "the radiance of the heart into infernal fire." Take heed.

Best regards.

choogue
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Postby choogue » Wed Oct 18, 2006 12:42 pm

Certainly our love for God should be greater than even family members., especially wayward ones. It seems here if I understand correctly that the son said that either his parents choose Islam or he reject them (or he instructed them to accept him, not Islam—I don't fully understand the story)? Well, despite that, if I were the father I would have also continued the Faith obviously, as I think most Baha'is would wisely do in such a situation.


It wasnt the son that made them choose. Apparently because he was born as a bahai and rejected their teaching and turned to Islam, the Bahai said that he is not allowed to continue speaking to any other member of the Bahai faith (including his family) and those that do continue speaking to him, their membership will be revoked and they will be classed as covenant breakers.

So his mum decided to continue speaking to him whether or not they classify her as a covenant breaker but his father continued with his membership and rejected both of them.

I don't know much about your situation, but if she persists I seriously suggest considering to not associating with her, because as the Writings state you should't associate with people who have such negative beliefs are say things contrary to the Writings, because their words are like venom and can turn "the radiance of the heart into infernal fire." Take heed.


Im not a bahai but a muslim. Im trying to learn the faith to determine whether the Imam Mahdi has indeed returned, since as you would know, that is the concept and belief of Islam. My girlfriend however is a Bahai and attends all the classes and also tutors, but she just doesnt agree with a certain things.

She explained to me that the UHJ is infallible as a whole, but she still doesnt agree with it because she finds all mankind, whether in a group or not, can err. (unless if they are a divine messenger). I cant argue the point or change her mind since im not Bahai and i dont know much about it, which is why im asking whether or not its true.

Regards
Abbas

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Postby Jonah » Wed Oct 18, 2006 1:52 pm

One personal observation of mine is that Baha'is can basically believe whatever they want without getting into trouble, so to speak, but if they try to proclaim or be pushy about any beliefs which contradict official Baha'i teachings, only then do they face possible sanctions.

For example of loss of administrative rights (e.g. the right to vote), a Baha'i who has a drinking problem and keeps it hidden at home would probably never face the loss of his administrative rights, but if he went to bars and drank publicly, while saying he was a Baha'i, then he would be counselled by members of his community, and if he refused to temper his behavior then he could lose administrative rights.

For an example of Covenant Breaking, a Baha'i who privately believes he's a new Manifestation (I have met a couple unhinged individuals) but keeps it to himself wouldn't pose any danger to the community, but if he were to publicly tell others that he's a new manifestation and claims the right to authority, then he'd probably have to be declared a Covenant Breaker.

-Jonah

choogue
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Postby choogue » Wed Oct 18, 2006 1:58 pm

Thanks Jonah.

Can anyone confirm this? Are Bahai's treated as covenant breakers if they leave the faith?

Or if they do leave the faith, are their parents and bahai friends allowed to continue speaking with them?

Regards
Abbas

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Postby Jonah » Wed Oct 18, 2006 3:40 pm

There is definitely no "punishment" or sanctions for leaving the Faith.

The only punishments are if someone (1) consistently disputes or publicly breaks Baha'i teachings while yet claiming to be a Baha'i, in which case they can lose their administrative rights, or (2) challenges the authority of the Covenant, i.e. Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi, or the Universal House of Justice, again while claiming to be a Baha'i, in which case they can be declared a Covenant Breaker.

Any Local Spiritual Assembly (LSA) can deprive a Baha'i of administrative rights, but only the UHJ can declare someone a covenant breaker. The former is not uncommon, but the latter is pretty rare. Now, if someone is declared a covenant-breaker, then any other Baha'is, family members included, are prohibited from seeking contact with them (though some interactions, e.g. business dealings, might be unavoidable and hence allowed). This might be what you've heard. However, in the contemporary community it is quite rare. Most cases of Covenant-Breaking in history occured during times of transition: when the Bab passed authority to Baha'u'llah; when Baha'u'llah passed authority to Abdu'l-Baha; then He to Shoghi Effendi; and finally Shoghi Effendi to the UHJ. At each of these four junctures a number of people chose not to follow the transmission of the Covenant but agitated against it, at which time they were declared Covenant-Breakers.

My answers here are off-the-top-of-my-head, because I'm pressed for time, so I recommend that you do some Googling at this site, or buy the compendium of Baha'i laws called "Lights of Guidance," which can probably be found at any Baha'i bookstore. It's an informal compendium, i.e. prepared by an individual and not the Institutions, but it's widely regarded as a reliable collection of the official Baha'i laws and teachings. I searched abe.com and amazon.com and found one used: http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/8185091463

choogue
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Postby choogue » Wed Oct 18, 2006 4:12 pm

Oh ok. The reason i posed the question again is because you stated that its a personal observation. But since now you mentioned that they definitely wouldnt be classed as covenant breakers, then you have answered my question.

Ok, so if a Bahai leaves the faith(and are not classed as covenant breakers), their parents (that remain Bahai) are allowed to speak to them?

Ok, and as you have mentioned, if a Bahai has been declared a covenant breaker, their parents are prohibited from speaking to them. So IF they continue speaking to them, would they be classed as covenant breakers? If not, what punishment would they receive for continuing to speak with their son/daughter (the covenant breaker)?

I recommend that you do some Googling at this site, or buy the compendium of Baha'i laws called "Lights of Guidance,"


Yeh i have done some searches on this website but cant find anything relevant and i dont really want to go out of my way to buy a book just to find out a minor detail. You have already answered some of my questions so im pretty sure ill get my answers here. Thanks for taking the time to look for a used book for me anyway.

Regards
Abbas

Jonah
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Postby Jonah » Wed Oct 18, 2006 4:37 pm

I forgot, we have Lights of Guidance up at this site (thanks to Brett) and can now share it with the public (with permission of the copyright holder) at http://bahai-library.com/?file=hornby_lights_guidance . I'll post here the entire chapter on The Covenant, which should answer all your questions on this matter. Click this link to find this in a more nicely-formatted version: http://bahai-library.com/?file=hornby_l ... pter=2#181

Regarding family ties, this compilation doesn't say. But I don't think that other family members would automatically be declared Covenant-Breakers for refusing to break ties with a family member who was declared such. I know it did happen, e.g. during the 1920s, but I think the circumstances then were that the other family members were supportive of the one declared a CB. For example, this passage says that some interactions, e.g. business dealings, would be allowed:
611. Personal Relations with Covenant-Breakers

"To read the writings of Covenant-breakers is not forbidden to the believers and does not constitute in itself an act of Covenant-breaking. Indeed, some of the Bahá'ís have the unpleasant duty to read such literature as part of their responsibilities for protecting the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. However, the friends are warned in the strongest terms against reading such literature because Covenant-breaking is a spiritual poison and the calumnies and distortions of the truth which the Covenant-breakers give out are such that they can undermine the faith of the believer and plant the seeds of doubt unless he is forearmed with an unshakable belief in Bahá'u'lláh and His Covenant and a knowledge of the true facts.

"Personal relations with Covenant-breakers, however, such as personal contact or entering into correspondence with one is strictly forbidden. In this connection, however, it is important to remember two qualifications:

"First, the civil rights of Covenant-breakers must be scrupulously upheld. For example, if a Bahá'í owes a debt to a person who breaks the Covenant he must be sure that it is repaid and that his obligations are met.

"Secondly, although the believers are required to avoid, if possible, all contact with Covenant-breakers it sometimes happens that contact on business matters cannot be avoided. For example, in one city the head of the rate collection department was a Covenant-breaker. In such situations the believers should restrict their contact with the Covenant-breaker to a purely formal business level and to an absolute minimum."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, October 29, 1974)

Finally, let me repeat and emphasize that no-one would suffer any sanction for merely leaving the Faith, e.g. joining Islam, and if someone did leave the Faith, they'd then be free to say whatever they wanted about the Baha'i Faith. Only people who remain Baha'is in name, and attack the Faith from the inside, could be declared CBs.

-Jonah
-----

XII. THE COVENANT

A. Bahá'í Covenant


593. The Bahá'í Covenant

"As regards the meaning of the Bahá'í Covenant: The Guardian considers the existence of two forms of Covenant both of which are explicitly mentioned in the literature of the Cause. First is the covenant that every Prophet makes with humanity or, more definitely, with His people that they will accept and follow the coming Manifestation Who will be the reappearance of His reality. The second form of covenant is such as the one Bahá'u'lláh made with His people that they should accept the Master. This is merely to establish and strengthen the succession of the series of Lights that appear after every Manifestation. Under the same category falls the covenant the Master made with the Bahá'ís that they should accept His administration after Him..."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual, October 21, 1921)

"The Most Great Covenant is different from the Everlasting Covenant."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948 p. 3)


594. Firmness in the Covenant--"Be He an Insignificant Ant..."

"...Rest ye assured that if a soul ariseth in the utmost perseverance and raiseth the Call of the Kingdom and resolutely promulgateth the Covenant, be he an insignificant ant he shall be enabled to drive away the formidable elephant from the arena, and if he be a feeble moth he shall cut to pieces the plumage of the rapacious vulture."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 209)


595. The Crimson Book

"...what Bahá'u'lláh did not elaborate but what He meant by the 'word' recorded in the Crimson Book was the power of the Covenant.

"The Crimson Book refers to the Book of His Covenant, and the reference above means the power for unity which the Covenant possesses and radiates. On Page 238 of God Passes By you will find the cross-reference to the Crimson Book and the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 5, 1948: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)


596. Regarding Covenant Entered into on Mount Paran

"As for the reference in The Hidden Words regarding the Covenant entered into on Mount Paran, this signifieth that in the sight of God the past, the present and the future are all one and the same--whereas, relative to man, the past is gone and forgotten, the present is fleeting, and the future is within the realm


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of hope. And it is a basic principle of the Law of God that in every Prophetic Mission, He entereth into a Covenant with all believers--a Covenant that endureth until the end of that Mission, until the promised day when the Personage stipulated at the outset of the Mission is made manifest. Consider Moses, He Who conversed with God. Verily, upon Mount Sinai, Moses entered into a Covenant regarding the Messiah, with all those souls who would live in the day of the Messiah. And those souls, although they appeared many centuries after Moses, were nevertheless--so far as the Covenant, which is outside time, was concerned--present there with Moses. The Jews, however, were heedless of this and remembered it not, and thus they suffered a great and clear loss."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 207)


597. To Withstand Tests Believers Need to be Deepened in the Covenant

"...the believers need to be deepened in their knowledge and appreciation of the Covenants of both Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá. This is the stronghold of the faith of every Bahá'í, and that which enables him to withstand every test and the attacks of the enemies outside the Faith, and the far more dangerous, insidious, lukewarm people inside the Faith who have no real attachment to the Covenant, and consequently uphold the intellectual aspect of the teachings while at the same time undermining the spiritual foundation upon which the whole Cause of God rests.

"He feels you and your dear family should do all you can to teach the believers the Will and Testament and to strengthen their understanding of its important provisions; for all the authority of the administrative bodies, as well as of the Guardian himself, is mainly derived from this tremendous document."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 15, 1949)


598. The Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Bahá--Needs a Century to Comprehend

"The contents of the Will of the Master is far too much for the present generation to comprehend. It needs at least a century of actual working before the treasures of wisdom hidden in it can be revealed. How can we at this stage and with our limited understanding denounce its spirit and purport."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 25, 1930)


599. The Will and Testament Safeguards the Unity of the Cause

"What he considers, however, to be now of the utmost importance is for the believers, each and all, to cling firmly to the provisions of our beloved Master's Will and Testament, as by this means alone the unity of the Cause, and its safe and speedy growth can be maintained, safeguarded and insured. Such an absolute and unwavering fidelity to Abdu'l-Bahá's Will, and firm adherence to the principles of the Administrative Order is indeed incumbent upon every one of the friends, without any distinction whatever. Upon this basis alone the Faith can be safeguarded and flourish."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 18, 1938)


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600. Speaking Against the Covenant

"My purpose is to explain to you that it is your duty to guard the religion of God so that none shall be able to assail it outwardly or inwardly. If you find harmful teachings are being set forth by some individual no matter who that individual be, even though he should be my own son, know verily that I am completely severed from him. If anyone speaks against the Covenant, even though he be my own son, know that I am opposed to him. Those who speak falsehoods, who covet worldly things and seek to accumulate the riches of this earth are not of me. But when you find a person living up to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, following the precepts of the Hidden Words, know that he belongs to Bahá'u'lláh and verily I proclaim that he is of me..."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 456-457)

B. Covenant-Breakers--Expulsion


601. Covenant-Breakers, Defined

"People who have withdrawn from the Cause because they no longer feel that they can support its Teachings and Institutions sincerely, are not Covenant-breakers--they are non-Bahá'ís and should just be treated as such. Only those who ally themselves actively with known enemies of the Faith who are Covenant-breakers, and who attack the Faith in the same spirit as these people, can be considered, themselves, to be Covenant-breakers. As you know, up to the present time, no one has been permitted to pronounce anybody a Covenant-breaker but the Guardian+F1 himself."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 30, 1957)


602. Covenant-Breaking is a Spiritual Disease

"...Covenant-breaking is truly a spiritual disease, and the whole view-point and attitude of a Covenant-breaker is so poisonous that the Master likened it to leprosy, and warned the friends to breathe the same air was dangerous. This should not be taken literally; He meant when you are close enough to breathe the same air you are close enough to contact their corrupting influence. Your sister should never imagine she, loyal and devoted, has become a 'carrier'."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 29, 1946)


603. Covenant-Breaking Like Contagious Consumption and Cancer

"...Thou hadst asked some questions; that why the blessed and spiritual souls, who are firm and steadfast, shun the company of degenerate persons. This is because, that just as the bodily diseases like consumption and cancer are contagious, likewise the spiritual diseases are also infectious. If a consumptive should associate with a thousand safe and healthy persons, the safety and health of these thousand persons would not affect the consumptive and would not cure him of his consumption. But when this consumptive associates with those


___________________
+F1 (Now the Universal House of Justice)


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thousand souls, in a short time the disease of consumption will infect a number of those healthy persons. This is a clear and self-evident question."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablet to an individual believer, October 1921: Star of the West, Vol. XII, No. 14, p. 233)


604. Afflicted with Contagious Spiritual Disease

"Regarding Mr. ... question about the Covenant-breakers, Bahá'u'lláh and the Master in many places and very emphatically have told us to shun entirely all Covenant-breakers as they are afflicted with what we might try and define as a contagious spiritual disease; they have also told us, however, to pray for them. These souls are not lost forever. In the Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh says that God will forgive Mirza Yahya if he repents. It follows, therefore, that God will forgive any soul if he repents. Most of them don't want to repent, unfortunately. If the leaders can be forgiven it goes without saying that their followers can also be forgiven.

"Also, it has nothing to do with unity in the Cause; if a man cuts a cancer out of his body to preserve his health and very life, no one would suggest that for the sake of unity it should be reintroduced into the otherwise healthy organism. On the contrary, what was once a part of him has so radically changed as to have become a poison."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 30, 1944: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pp. 22-23)


605. Association with Non-Bahá'ís Who Are in Association with Covenant-Breakers

"We have your letter of 14th March 1970 asking whether it is forbidden for the friends to associate with non-Bahá'ís who are in close association with Covenant-Breakers.

"There are no hard and fast rules about such things. Under some conditions the involvement of the non-Bahá'í party may be superficial and harmless, in which case no action should be taken. For example, Bahá'ís have at times used non-Bahá'ís, such as lawyers, to contact Covenant-breakers in certain matters of business.

"If, however, the Covenant-breaker is using the non-Bahá'í party to spread his ideas among the friends, the matter should be reported to the Continental Board of Counsellors, and whatever they decide in such cases in consultation with the National Spiritual Assemblies concerned should be unreservedly accepted by the friends."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, April 2, 1970)


606. Enemies of the Faith

"Now some of the mischief-makers, with many stratagems, are seeking leadership, and in order to reach this position they instill doubts among the friends that they may cause differences, and that these differences may result in their drawing a party to themselves. But the friends of God must be awake and must know that the scattering of these doubts hath as its motive personal desires and the achievement of leadership."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 214)


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C. Believers Forbidden to Associate with Covenant-Breakers


607. Ex-Communication

"Ex-communication is a spiritual thing.... Only actual enemies of the Cause are ex-communicated. On the other hand, those who conspicuously disgrace the Faith or refuse to abide by its laws can be deprived, as a punishment, of their voting rights; this in itself is a severe action, and he therefore always urges all National Assemblies (who can take such action) to first warn and repeatedly warn the evil-doer before taking the step of depriving him of his voting rights. He feels your Assembly must act with the greatest wisdom in such matters, and only impose this sanction if a believer is seriously injuring the Faith in the eyes of the public through his conduct or flagrantly breaking the laws of God. If such a sanction were lightly used the friends would come to attach no importance to it, or to feel the N.S.A. used it every time they got angry with some individual's disobedience to them. We must always remember that, sad and often childish as it seems, some of those who make the worst nuisances of themselves to their National Bodies are often very loyal believers, who think they are protecting the true interests of their Faith by attacking N.S.A. decisions!"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, May 8, 1948)


608. No One Has the Right to See Covenant-Breakers Without Permission

"No one has any right to see the Covenant-Breakers without the permission of the N.S.A., and Mrs. ... in doing so should realize she is putting herself in contact with a dangerous, contagious, spiritual disease, as the Master pointed out over and over again! She is also disobeying express instructions of the Master and the Guardian by contacting Covenant-Breakers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to two individual believers, May 5, 1947)


609. Bahá'ís Cannot Associate with Those Who Have Left the Cause and Are Associating with Covenant-Breakers

"There is no excuse for believers continuing to associate with ... and those who, knowing everything, still insist on doing so, should be shunned by their fellow-Bahá'ís. The same applies to people who have left the Cause and associate with.... The point is that if the believers know and meet with people who are acquainted with Covenant-breakers there is no harm in this, for such individuals are not Bahá'ís and have nothing to do with the issues concerned. But those who have left the Cause, knowing all about such matters, and deliberately associate with Covenant-breakers, are well aware of what they do, and we must not associate with them at all. It is for the Local Assembly, guided by the N.S.A., to enforce such decisions and protect the Cause in its area of jurisdiction.

"The friends should, without too much dwelling on these negative things, be made to understand that some people are spiritually sick and that their disease is, alas, contagious. Some recover from it, as did Mr. ... whose heart could not rest till he returned to the fold; others do not. The Master and Bahá'u'lláh have taught us that associating with these souls is not likely to heal them at


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all, but on the contrary exposes one to grave danger of contagion. The history of the Faith has proved this over and over again. The only way we can prove to such people that they are wrong is to censure their conduct; if we sympathise with them we only fortify their perversity and waywardness."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 23, 1945)


610. Bahá'í May Remain at Non-Bahá'í Meeting if Covenant-Breaker Appears

"With regard to avoiding association with declared Covenant-breakers. Shoghi Effendi says that this does not mean that if one or more of these attends a non-Bahá'í meeting any Bahá'ís present should feel compelled to leave the meeting or to refuse to take part in the meeting, especially if that part has been prearranged. Also if in the course of some business transaction it should become necessary to negotiate with one of these people, in order to clear up the business, that is permissible, provided the association is confined to the matter of the business in hand. It is different if one of these people should come to Bahá'í meeting. Then it would become necessary to ask him in a most tactful and dignified way to leave the meeting as Bahá'ís are forbidden to associate with him."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 16, 1925)


611. Personal Relations with Covenant-Breakers

"To read the writings of Covenant-breakers is not forbidden to the believers and does not constitute in itself an act of Covenant-breaking. Indeed, some of the Bahá'ís have the unpleasant duty to read such literature as part of their responsibilities for protecting the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. However, the friends are warned in the strongest terms against reading such literature because Covenant-breaking is a spiritual poison and the calumnies and distortions of the truth which the Covenant-breakers give out are such that they can undermine the faith of the believer and plant the seeds of doubt unless he is forearmed with an unshakable belief in Bahá'u'lláh and His Covenant and a knowledge of the true facts.

"Personal relations with Covenant-breakers, however, such as personal contact or entering into correspondence with one is strictly forbidden. In this connection, however, it is important to remember two qualifications:

"First, the civil rights of Covenant-breakers must be scrupulously upheld. For example, if a Bahá'í owes a debt to a person who breaks the Covenant he must be sure that it is repaid and that his obligations are met.

"Secondly, although the believers are required to avoid, if possible, all contact with Covenant-breakers it sometimes happens that contact on business matters cannot be avoided. For example, in one city the head of the rate collection department was a Covenant-breaker. In such situations the believers should restrict their contact with the Covenant-breaker to a purely formal business level and to an absolute minimum."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, October 29, 1974)


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612. All Covenant-Breakers Regardless of Nature of Disobedience Must Be Treated in Exactly the Same Manner

"Reference is made to your letter of April 8th in which you ask: 'Does a disciplinary action for disobedience to the Guardian carry the same implications as Covenant-breaking of an ideological order?' There is no distinction between the two concepts. All Covenant-breakers, regardless of the nature of their disobedience to the Covenant should be treated in exactly the same manner."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 19, 1964)


613. Opposition Due to Ignorance or Lack of Proper Training is Not Covenant-Breaking

"Whenever we find a person who opposes some fundamental of our Faith, such as the Institution of the Guardianship, we must first be sure this is not due to ignorance or lack of proper training, before we take action. We must not suppose immediately that that person is necessarily tainted by the spirit of the Covenant-Breakers. If, however, this should prove to be the case, then strong action must be taken by the Assembly."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 24, 1948)


614. Role of Auxiliary Board Member for Protection+F1

"The need to protect the Faith from the attacks of its enemies, both within and outside the Faith, is not generally appreciated by the friends, particularly in the West where such attacks have so far been intermittent. One of the vital functions of the Protection Boards is the deepening of the friends' knowledge of the Covenant and increasing their love and loyalty to it, and fostering the spirit of love and unity within the Bahá'í community."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Venezuela, October 1, 1979)


615. God's Mercy Exceeds His Justice

"...we believe that God's Mercy exceeds His Justice, and that through the repentance of a soul, the prayers and supplications of other souls, and the goodness of God, even a person who has passed away in great spiritual darkness can be forgiven, educated spiritually in the next world and progress.

"Owing to ...'s deliberate choice in leaving the Guardian to join the Covenant-breakers, and in his continuous association with them, it is evident he certainly has a spiritual disease."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 7, 1947)


616. To Be the Enemy of the Enemies of God is Good Characteristic

"To be the enemy of the enemies of God is a good characteristic. We are not against them personally, just as any intelligent man is not personally against a man who has a dangerous contagious disease. But he carefully isolates the sick individual so that the contagion will not spread. So we shun the spiritually sick, wishing for their cure, but keeping clear of them. You are right to take a firm stand regarding Orientals. One would think that world events would be opening the eyes of the Americans


___________________
+F1 (See also: No. 1112)


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to certain unreliable and mischievous characteristics of nationals of the Middle East."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 22, 1951)


617. It is Better to be Too Vigilant Than to be Too Lax

"The Guardian feels that your attitude of vigilance and intense loyalty is quite right. In such matters as the Covenant it is far better to be too vigilant than too lax. However, he does not feel Mr. ... is lacking in firmness and Faith. Many of the Bahá'ís, ... while loyal to the Cause and the Guardian, do not fully grasp the implications of the Master's Will and the full station of the Guardians of the Cause. They need to study more deeply the spiritual side of the Teachings and the Will itself. And this he has advised the ... to do."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 5, 1949)


618. Possibly No Group Have Softer Tongues Than the Covenant-Breakers

"...It is a pity that some of the Western friends, with remarkable naivete, do not grasp the fact that there is absolutely nothing keeping those who have broken the Covenant, whether Bahá'u'lláh's or the Master's, out of the Cause of God except their own inner spiritually sick condition. If they were sound, instead of diseased, and wanted to enter the service of our Faith, they would apply direct to the Guardian, and he would be able to adjudge of their sincerity and, if sincere, would welcome them into the ranks of the faithful as he did with Sydney Sprague. Unfortunately a man who is ill is not made well just by asserting there is nothing wrong with him! Facts, actual states, are what count. Probably no group of people in the world have softer tongues, or proclaim more loudly their innocence, than those who in their heart of hearts, and by their every act, are enemies of the Center of the Covenant. The Master well knew this, and that is why He said we must shun their company, but pray for them. If you put a leper in a room with healthy people, he cannot catch their health; on the contrary they are very likely to catch his horrible ailment."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 11, 1949)


619. National Assembly Should Consider Itself as Committee of Vigilance

"He feels that your Assembly should redouble its vigilance, in fact he feels that the National Assembly should consider itself, aside from its other duties, as a Committee of Vigilance to watch over the Faith and protect it from its internal enemies, and from the constantly carried on and insidious activities...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957)


620. Bahá'ís Need More Than Anything Else in the World Deeper Understanding Covenants of Bahá'u'lláh and Master

"The Guardian has been considerably disturbed by the inharmony that has arisen in... He feels that what the ... Bahá'ís need--and must have--more than anything else in the world is a far deeper understanding of the Covenants of both Bahá'u'lláh and the Master. This is the rock-foundation without which no


Page 189


sound super-structure can be built. Neither the administration, nor the general teaching work of the Cause ..., will progress, or be able to accomplish anything, unless the believers are truly firm, deep, spiritually convinced Bahá'ís. An intellectual grasp of the Teachings is purely superficial; with the first real test such believers are shaken from the bough! But once a Bahá'í has the profound conviction of the authority from God, vested in the Prophet, passed on to the Master, and by Him, to the Guardians, and which flows out through the Assemblies and creates order based on obedience--once a Bahá'í has this, nothing can shake him. He, therefore, urges you, and the other members of the ..., to devote as much time as you possibly can, to educating the believers in the Covenant."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 11, 1949)

D. Expulsion and Reinstatement; Protection Responsibilities; Books Written by Enemies of the Faith


621. Expulsion of Covenant-Breakers

"The authority of expulsion and reinstatement will be exercised by the Hands of the Cause of God, subject in each instance to the approval of the Universal House of Justice."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Continental Board of Counsellors, June 24, 1968)


622. Protection Specific Function of the Hands of the Cause

"...although the Hands of the Cause of God have the specific functions of protection and propagation, and are specialized for these functions, it is also the duty of the Universal House of Justice and the Spiritual Assemblies to protect and teach the Cause--indeed teaching is a sacred obligation placed upon every believer by Bahá'u'lláh."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 27, 1966: Wellspring of Guidance, p. 86)


623. Expulsion and Reinstatement

"Authority for the expulsion and reinstatement of Covenant-breakers remains with the Hands of the Cause of God. All such matters will be investigated locally by the relative Continental Board of Counsellors in consultation with any Hand or Hands who may be in the area. The Continental Board of Counsellors and the Hands concerned will then make their reports to the International Teaching Center where they will be considered. The decision whether or not to expel or reinstate will be made by the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land who will, as at present, submit their decision to the Universal House of Justice for approval."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, June 8, 1973)


624. Accomplishments to be Attained with the Covenant of the Everlasting Father

"The progress of the Cause of God gathers increasing momentum and we may


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with confidence look forward to the day when this Community, in God's good time, shall have traversed the stages predicated for it by its Guardian, and shall have raised on this tormented planet the fair mansions of God's Own Kingdom wherein humanity may find surcease from its self-induced confusion and chaos and ruin, and the hatreds and violence of this time shall be transmuted into an abiding sense of world brotherhood and peace. All this shall be accomplished within the Covenant of the everlasting Father, the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh."

(From the message of the Universal House of Justice to Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1973)


625. Course on Covenant-Breaking Should Be Included in Summer School Curriculum

"...and your Assembly cannot be too careful or vigilant in watching over the Community seeking out the sources of corruption and protecting the friends. He feels that a course on Covenant-breaking should be included in the Summer School curriculum, so that the friends may understand the nature of this evil, and how it has affected our Faith for one hundred years, and other Faiths in the past. The American Bahá'ís, aside from the older ones, do not seem to have any concept whatsoever of what a Covenant-breaker is, and the place to educate them in these matters is in the Summer Schools and on other occasions when they meet in large numbers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957)


626. Should Not Accept Contributions from Those Who Lose Voting Rights: They Can Be Buried in Bahá'í Cemetery, Receive Charity

"...As contributions to Bahá'í funds are used to support the administration of the Faith, they should not be accepted from those who are deprived of their voting rights; but such believers, should not be prevented from being buried in a Bahá'í cemetery or receiving charity--which we even give to non-Bahá'ís--if in dire need."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 8, 1947 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India: Dawn of a New Day, p. 123)


627. Literature Written by Enemies of the Faith

"In reply to your letter of September 20, 1975, the Universal House of Justice instructs us to say that the friends should be advised to ignore these books and any similar ones which might be written by enemies of the Faith. There should certainly be no attempt made to destroy or remove such books from libraries. On the other hand there is no need at all for the friends to acquire them and, indeed, the best plan is to ignore them entirely."

(Referring to books by Hermann Zimmer and William Miller. Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, October 2, 1975)


628. Books by Unenlightened Enemies of the Cause

"It is better not to read books by Covenant-breakers because they are haters of the Light, sufferers from a spiritual leprosy, so to speak. But books by well


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meaning yet unenlightened enemies of the Cause can be read so as to refute their charges."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 19, 1945: Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, pp. 107-108)


629. Obedience to the Center of the Covenant

"...whosoever obeys the Center of the Covenant appointed by Bahá'u'lláh has obeyed Bahá'u'lláh, and whosoever disobeys Him has disobeyed Bahá'u'lláh...."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 323)

choogue
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Postby choogue » Thu Oct 19, 2006 1:10 pm

Thanks Jonah. I understand:
- People wont get punished if they leave the faith, therefore parents can continue talking with them
- If someone IS classed as a covenant breaker, then parents are prohibited from speaking to them

The only question that i need an answer to now is:
- If parents refuse to break ties with a son/daughter (who are covenant breakers), would the parents also be classed as covenant breakers?

Regarding family ties, this compilation doesn't say. But I don't think that other family members would automatically be declared Covenant-Breakers for refusing to break ties with a family member who was declared such.


I know you mentioned you dont think so but im hoping to hear from someone who may know. Maybe someone who has heard of this or seen it happen in their LSA?

Quote:
611. Personal Relations with Covenant-Breakers

"To read the writings of Covenant-breakers is not forbidden to the believers and does not constitute in itself an act of Covenant-breaking. Indeed, some of the Bahá'ís have the unpleasant duty to read such literature as part of their responsibilities for protecting the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. However, the friends are warned in the strongest terms against reading such literature because Covenant-breaking is a spiritual poison and the calumnies and distortions of the truth which the Covenant-breakers give out are such that they can undermine the faith of the believer and plant the seeds of doubt unless he is forearmed with an unshakable belief in Bahá'u'lláh and His Covenant and a knowledge of the true facts.

"Personal relations with Covenant-breakers, however, such as personal contact or entering into correspondence with one is strictly forbidden. In this connection, however, it is important to remember two qualifications:

"First, the civil rights of Covenant-breakers must be scrupulously upheld. For example, if a Bahá'í owes a debt to a person who breaks the Covenant he must be sure that it is repaid and that his obligations are met.

"Secondly, although the believers are required to avoid, if possible, all contact with Covenant-breakers it sometimes happens that contact on business matters cannot be avoided. For example, in one city the head of the rate collection department was a Covenant-breaker. In such situations the believers should restrict their contact with the Covenant-breaker to a purely formal business level and to an absolute minimum."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, October 29, 1974)


See this letter from the UHJ basically states that "personal" contact is forbidden, but "business" is ok. So it would be really interesting to determine what punishment is imposed on the person who does defy this rule and continues on a personal level with the CB.

Thanks for your help.

Regards
Abbas

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Thu Oct 19, 2006 2:34 pm

Abbas,

Sorry, I assumed you were a Baha'i (maybe it's because you're such a nice guy :)).

Yes, if your father and brother, for example, become covenant breakers, you should still love them (you should love your father because he gave life to you), but you should eschew any contact with them to the extent possible—but, like the quote says, sometimes this is not always feasible such as in business matters. However, if you can transfer to another place to work without a great amount of difficulty, you would definitely consider it.

This is a response to one of your previous posts. Some guys that do "covenant breaking" while Baha'is and then leave the Baha'i Faith before the UHJ can denounce them as C.B.s—a good example being a Juan Cole (I was transfered somehow to his academic webpage, most unintentionally I must add). But still, as Baha'u'llah in the Hidden Words instructs, "Treasure the companionship of the righteous and eschew all fellowship with the ungodly." It's somewhat up to interpretation who you consider "ungodly," but if you read the Writings, reflect and pray I think you can make an informed decision for yourself (as a Baha'i I mean).

As far as your girlfriend, I don't know what her issues with the UHJ are. Some women are upset since they (womankind) can't serve on the House, but I don't know if that's the reason. However, Abbas, just know some Baha'is will tell you what they "think" but they'll put it more in terms of how it is. Never be afraid to ask for a source. Someone who tells you the Baha'i Fath teaches something—whatever it is—should be prepared to back it up.

If a Baha'i believes in Baha'u'llah, he has to believe in 'Abdu'l-Baha, and then in Shoghi Effendi. If any or all of them state that the UHJ is infallible, then the true Baha'i won't question it. How can God be right about everything, but us weaklings find what we think is one or two minor faults (i.e. He was wrong in saying the UHJ are infallible)? As soon as you let that happen, you'll be trying to find flaws all the time; it will be anarchy. The Baha'i Faith isn't like some other world religions. It won't change its teachings just because of some political pressures, issues people have, etc. It's us Baha'is that have to change. If we think it's the other way around then we are most certainly flawed. One you ponder the statement "God is the All-knowing, the All-wise," and are convinced of its meaning, you will be better equipped to block out men's feeble expectations of how religion should be, and focus on how it is; that is, how it is intended to be. Just look at how swiftly Christianity is giving into political pressures. Is a religion really a religion anymore when it is molded and made to conform to the ideas of a certain politically-minded group of people? When such an event occurs, it swiftly becomes a man-made religion. Does God recognize our religion, or only His religion? Indeed, when we will be judged by the Judge of all mankind, our worth will be estimated based on how closely we shaped our lives to fit His expectations, not ours.

choogue
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Postby choogue » Thu Oct 19, 2006 3:17 pm

Sorry, I assumed you were a Baha'i (maybe it's because you're such a nice guy ).


Nah i think you thought i was Bahai coz i wasnt attacking the religion :) hehe. Islam is about respect so you have invited me into your house so i will respect you (whether i like you or not) <----- Doesnt mean i dont like you ;)

Thanks for your response.

This is hypothetical, but lets say i decide Bahai is the correct religion and i convert and marry my girlfriend but a few years later i become a covenant breaker (for whatever reason). My wife will then have to divorce me since im a CB. Right? So, what happens if she decides that she does not want to divorce me but remain Bahai? Will they force her or classify her as a CB aswell?

As far as your girlfriend, I don't know what her issues with the UHJ are. Some women are upset since they (womankind) can't serve on the House, but I don't know if that's the reason. However, Abbas, just know some Baha'is will tell you what they "think" but they'll put it more in terms of how it is. Never be afraid to ask for a source. Someone who tells you the Baha'i Fath teaches something—whatever it is—should be prepared to back it up.


Yeh i agree that they need to back it up but its her personal opinion i guess. She just think doesnt think that a man can be infallible unless they are a messenger. Its just her opinion.

The Baha'i Faith isn't like some other world religions. It won't change its teachings just because of some political pressures, issues people have, etc. It's us Baha'is that have to change


Yep agree again. Same in Islam. We are to change and the Quran will never change. Allah doesnt make mistakes therefore there is no need for men to have their input and corrupt the text. I went to a Christian school and i used to always make a comment on how there are different versions of the Bible but only one version of the Quran. It was one thing they respected about Islam i guess.

But anyway, going off subject, thanks again.

Regards
Abbas

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Thu Oct 19, 2006 4:01 pm

Thanks for your responses too, Abbas. It's nice having someone so open-minded like you on the forum.

abbas wrote:This is hypothetical, but lets say i decide Bahai is the correct religion and i convert and marry my girlfriend but a few years later i become a covenant breaker (for whatever reason). My wife will then have to divorce me since im a CB. Right? So, what happens if she decides that she does not want to divorce me but remain Bahai? Will they force her or classify her as a CB aswell?


It's up to the House. They might not even hear about it. No, your wife wouldn't have to divorce you, that is not correct. She has to leave you, not be in your presence, but as far as I know she doesn't have to divorce you if you become a CBer.

I suggest, as a Baha'i prayer states, let's not "dwell on the unpleasant things of life." Any consideration of these CBers is not worth our time. These people have malevolence in their hearts, and you most certainly seem not to have such ill intents (in fact you sound very open-minded and accepting).

abbas wrote:
The Baha'i Faith isn't like some other world religions. It won't change its teachings just because of some political pressures, issues people have, etc. It's us Baha'is that have to change


Yep agree again. Same in Islam. We are to change and the Quran will never change. Allah doesnt make mistakes therefore there is no need for men to have their input and corrupt the text. I went to a Christian school and i used to always make a comment on how there are different versions of the Bible but only one version of the Quran. It was one thing they respected about Islam i guess.


I went to private Christian schools throughout my childhood, so I know what you mean. Nice insights...

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Postby choogue » Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:24 am

It's up to the House. They might not even hear about it. No, your wife wouldn't have to divorce you, that is not correct. She has to leave you, not be in your presence, but as far as I know she doesn't have to divorce you if you become a CBer.

I suggest, as a Baha'i prayer states, let's not "dwell on the unpleasant things of life." Any consideration of these CBers is not worth our time. These people have malevolence in their hearts, and you most certainly seem not to have such ill intents (in fact you sound very open-minded and accepting).


Thanks for answering the question. I absolutely agree that we shouldnt focus on the things that are unpleasant. Im only asking about the covenant breaker issue to determine whether my girlfriend is giving me false/misleading info.

and you most certainly seem not to have such ill intents (in fact you sound very open-minded and accepting).


I must admit i initially had intentions to convert the girl to Islam, but when she told me the beliefs i had to investigate whether the Imam Mahdi and Prophet Isa (a.s) have indeed returned and if i find it to be false then ofcourse i would remain muslim and convert her, but if i find the proof, then ofcourse it makes sense to for myself to convert. Know what i mean?
This whole investigation has made me realise more information on both Bahai and Islam. I never knew much about Islam except for the basics, so now my knowledge is growing more and more each day on both faiths. So in saying this, i hope you understand that i cannot just believe in Bahai by reading your books or taking peoples word for it. I need to find the proof in my own books because it has been prophecised that many false prophets will come after the Prophet Muhammed. So i will need to distinguish between, for example, the Prophet of the Ahmadiyya faith and the Prophet of the Bahai faith.

Hope i make sense. Sometimes i blab on......:) but yeh, i am open minded because Islam teachings us to investigate before we reject. Also, its always interesting to find about new prophets or faiths.

Regards
Abbas

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:08 am

abbas wrote:So in saying this, i hope you understand that i cannot just believe in Bahai by reading your books or taking peoples word for it. I need to find the proof in my own books because it has been prophecised that many false prophets will come after the Prophet Muhammed. So i will need to distinguish between, for example, the Prophet of the Ahmadiyya faith and the Prophet of the Bahai faith.


Yes, I understand. It's a combination of proofs/Words. Something you might be interested in—in the Dawn Breakers, there are some hadith refered to stating for example what the Bab's age should have been, his height, etc.—all prophesies of which were fulfilled. I don't know the specific hadith which were being referred to, but you could check it out if you're interested...

Yes as you say you should also check out Ahamadiyya also. It's good you're keeping an open mind.

choogue
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Postby choogue » Fri Oct 20, 2006 1:08 pm

Yep that was what i wanted to read next. At the moment im reading Kitab-I-Iqan.

Regards
Abbas

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Sat Oct 21, 2006 12:54 am

abbas wrote:Yep that was what i wanted to read next. At the moment im reading Kitab-I-Iqan.

Regards
Abbas


Great. I don't think you could have picked a better one. Let us know what you think after you have read it (or the parts that you wanted to read). It would be interesting to hear your thoughts about the Iqan.

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Postby playexyshoola » Sat Oct 21, 2006 3:31 am

Hi Abbas

After reading your replies on different topics, i have noticed that you are intrested to know about the faith, and obviously your gf is not really helping you!!! what i suggest you do is ask your gf to organise for you what we call a "fire side", which is a gathering were couple of people bahai's and non bahai's get together and discuss a topic. I have noticed it helps a lot when you talk to real ppl rather than online. You can then ask your questions and hopefully you can be guided to the rite path and if they can not answer then im sure they will be more than happy to research and get back to you..we are all humans and fallible..plz do not base your research on what others tell you.... it should all be about "Individual investigation of truth".

I wish you all the luck..

Asal

choogue
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Postby choogue » Sat Oct 21, 2006 11:17 am

Asal,

After reading your replies on different topics, i have noticed that you are intrested to know about the faith, and obviously your gf is not really helping you!!! what i suggest you do is ask your gf to organise for you what we call a "fire side", which is a gathering were couple of people bahai's and non bahai's get together and discuss a topic. I have noticed it helps a lot when you talk to real ppl rather than online. You can then ask your questions and hopefully you can be guided to the rite path and if they can not answer then im sure they will be more than happy to research and get back to you..we are all humans and fallible..plz do not base your research on what others tell you.... it should all be about "Individual investigation of truth".


Fire side huh? Never heard of it but ill ask my gf about it.

Honestly though, im finding out a lot of information from the people on this forum (especially BW..thanks champ), and from reading websites and searching this online library.

I wonder if anyone here has been to this Fire side thing?

Another thing though, is this fireside like a debate or is it possible to turn into a debate, because apparently i heard that debating is not permissble which is a shame because i watch many video where muslim and christian scholars debate and i really learn a lot from it. Its a good way to educate people with a friendly debate on certain topics that are misunderstood.

Individual investigation of truth is asking people and reading Bahai and non-Bahai literature. And yes, humans are fallible but Allah has created a mind for all of us and it is up to each individual to decide what is right by using their commonsense. So you end up gathering all the sources of information and put two and two together then generally you realise what is true.

Regards
Abbas

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Postby Keyvan » Thu Oct 26, 2006 1:15 am

well only the Universal House of Justice can officially declare one a covenant breaker, as mentioned.

but of course we as individuals can detect and identify for ourselves and our own protection what sounds consistant to the covenant we adhear to, and what clearly does not.

...to say that the Universal House of Justice is not Infallible opposes the succession of Infallible authority clearly stated in the Writings. and one can personally draw whatever conclusions from that.

British_Bahai
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Postby British_Bahai » Fri Mar 09, 2007 12:56 pm

abbas wrote:Im not a bahai but a muslim. Im trying to learn the faith to determine whether the Imam Mahdi has indeed returned, since as you would know, that is the concept and belief of Islam. My girlfriend however is a Bahai and attends all the classes and also tutors, but she just doesnt agree with a certain things


Hi Abbas, i know this post is quite old, but i thought i'd post anyway...
have u come across this book:

Bahaullah: the great announcement of the Qur'an (by Muhammad Mustafa). Its also available online at: http://www.bahai-library.com/books/anno ... index.html


...I thought you'd be interested


G'day mate (said in a strong aussie accent) ;)

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Postby Dorumerosaer » Fri Mar 09, 2007 3:12 pm

The fundamental power in the universe is attraction. This power, at the spiritual level, is demonstrated in the divine revelations. If a person does not believe in certain Baha'i teachings, that does not make them evil, and that does not authorize any Baha'i to say that the person "should" believe in it. God does not compel -- He attracts. Once attracted, we obey Him out of love.

My point is, Abbas, if your girlfriend does not believe in the infallibility of the Universal House of Justice, it is not for any Baha'i to compel her to do so. Arriving at this conviction comes, I personally feel, primarily from reading the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha. Because it is the Covenant of `Abdu'l-Baha that directs us to turn to the House of Justice, and that states squarely that it is guided by God.

In addition to taking the words on faith, another, and I feel deeper, method of believing in its infallibility is to obey it. If you go to a doctor, you can read the diplomas on the wall and listen to others who say he is a good doctor. But you won't really know for yourself until you go to the doctor and heed his advice, and act on it. Then, the results in your own life prove to you that the doctor is skilled. And this is, I feel, the way that one arrives at a deeper understanding of the divine promise that God guides the Universal House of Justice.

As far as shunning, this is, in general, the antithesis of the spirit of the Baha'i Faith. We associate with all people, including those who profoundly disgree with us. There is no stigma attached to those who become Baha'is and withdraw from the Faith; we are free to associate with them, marry them, etc. Only in the rare instance when a Baha'i turns against the Master's Covenant and directly opposes the Universal House of Justice, can he be declared a Covenant-breaker by the House of Justice, and only then is he shunned. It has nothing to do with disobedience to the Baha'i laws of morality; it has nothing to do with having a weak belief in the infallibility of the House of Justice. It has to do generally with setting up a competitor as the authority in the Faith. A non-Baha'i can never be a Covenant-breaker, never having been a party to Abdu'l-Baha's Covenant. It is not a common thing; it is a very very rare thing.

Brent

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Postby Sen McGlinn » Sat Mar 10, 2007 6:37 am

As individuals they are just like you and me (fallible), but when they as a group assemble in unity, the decision that arises out of that meeting is certainly infallible.


But - they have also said that the decisions they make depend on the information they are given, and if they are given more information they may change their decision. So "infallible" in Bahai teachings does not have the same meaning as it does in normal English use. It translates `ismat, and the person who has it is ma`suum, and I guess you know how many different opinions there have been in Islamic history about what that means.

The point is this - if your girlfriend says she cannot believe in infallibility, perhaps she is quite right. It could be that the infallibility she does not believe in, we do not believe in either. It doesn't mean that the infallible person can never make a mistake.

In Baha’u’llah’s writings, one key text is paragraph 47 of the Kitab-e Aqdas:

He Who is the Dawning-place of God’s Cause hath no partner (shirk) in the Most Great Infallibility (`ismat al-kabrii). He it is Who, in the kingdom of creation, is the Manifestation of "He doeth whatsoever He willeth". God hath reserved this distinction unto His own Self (to God’s nafs), and ordained for none a share in so sublime and transcendent a station. This is the Decree of God, concealed ere now within the veil of impenetrable mystery. We have disclosed it in this Revelation, and have thereby rent asunder the veils of such as have failed to recognize that which the Book [of God] set forth and who were numbered with the heedless.

The first thing we can see here is that the Most Great Infallibility of the Manifestation is not shared with anyone – thus there is not a Bahai equivalent of the Shiah imams or immaculate ones. Paragraph 42 of the Aqdas says that charitable endowments revert (are under the control of) Baha’u’llah, and after him to the Aghsan or male descendants of Baha’u’llah, and after them to the Universal House of Justice. What he says in paragraph 47 shows that they are not his successors in the full sense: they do not succeed to the Most Great Infallibility. This is why Shoghi Effendi is so emphatic that he (the Guardian) "is not a stainless mirror" – that is, he is not like the immaculate ones of Shiah Islam. While Baha'u'llah contrasts his teachings to the Shi`ah doctrine of infallibility, he also says that this teaching is revealed clearly now, which implicitly absolves those, such as the Shi`ah, who have in the past made other people partners with the Prophet.

The second point to note is that “he (God) does what he wills” is treated as a privilege of God (a thing true only in reference to God), which is manifest in the world uniquely in the Manifestation. God is free to do what God wills, and God is infallible. The Manifestation of God is unique in manifesting the Most Great Infallibility and is the earthly manifestation of “God does what he wills.” God’s radical freedom from constraint means that God is free to change (or more properly, it means that if we imagine something to be a constraint on God, we are wrong). And the Manifestation is also free – free, in the context of the Kitab-e Aqdas, to change the law of God, the shariah.

BTW: Baha’u’llah identifies himself here as the self or nafs of God, which is not the essence (dhat) of God but the actualised totality of the divine names and attributes. God has an unknowable Essence, but a manifest Self, and the manifest is manifested in the Manifestation.

In a way, infallibility is the other side of the coin to God's freedom to do what God wills. It means there are no standards we can hold up and say "God could not do that" - so there is no way we can judge the Manifestion of God and say he did something wrong.

If I've convinced your girlfriend that infallibility isn't such a problem (there's more on this in Baha'u'llah's tablet of Ishraqat and in Abdu'l-Baha's Some Answered Questions: Ishraqat is in Arabic so perhaps you can read it, SAQ is in Persian, both are translated) - perhaps you can also assure her that the shunning of covenant-breakers is also no big deal.

In the first place, there are very very few of them, and you may meet them on internet but hardly in real life, and in the second place, this takes the place of the killing or imprisonment of heretics which has gone on in other religions. It is really much more civilized, don't you think? It also takes the place of the internal wars and schisms that marred early Islam and Christianity, because it is quite clear that only the UHJ can call someone a covenant breaker today, (and before them the Guardian and the Hands of the Cause, Abdu'l-Baha and Baha'u'llah). It is one of the special prerogatives of the UHJ, and covenant-breaking is when people claim some special prerogative for themselves. In early Islam and Christianity, you had whole groups of people calling each other heretics, because it was not clear who really had the authority to do this. But in the Bahai Faith, if you call someone a covenant-breaker, you are trying to stand in the UHJ's shoes, which makes you a covenant-breaker :oops:

This is an effective way of banishing the whole business of one believer trying to measure another believer's orthodoxy -- there is no kufr and takfiir , because only the UHJ can do that

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Postby British_Bahai » Sat Mar 10, 2007 5:31 pm

Sen McGlinn wrote: But in the Bahai Faith, if you call someone a covenant-breaker, you are trying to stand in the UHJ's shoes, which makes you a covenant-breaker :oops:

Not quite, Sen.

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Postby Dorumerosaer » Sat Mar 10, 2007 7:14 pm

british_bahai wrote:Not quite, Sen.


Sen is right to raise the issue. And British Baha'i is right that Sen has no more business describing a given action as Covenant-breaking, than those committing the conduct he criticizes. Those are not shoes any of us can stand in.

There was a wonderful story in dear, departed Robert Gulick's introduction to the early US editions of the Seven Valleys, of a boy who went to church with his father. Noticing that several people around him were nodding off to sleep during the service, he asked, "Father, are we not better than they are?" To which his father replied, "You might have been, if you had not noticed."

There is a good deal of Baha'i commentary that amounts to us trying to see ourselves as a notch above the other guy. We speak disparagingly of those who don't hold a fireside in their home every 19 days; of those who do not teach; who do not attend Feast; who do not agree with everything the House of Justice says; who smoke; etc. etc.

Now, these are all things that every good Baha'i should do -- but we should not notice. Our job is to see to our own spiritual advancement, not measure ourselves against the next person -- two spiritual pygmies seeing which one is a millimeter taller. And I think this is what Sen is saying, and he is quite right to say it: No Baha'i can decide that someone else is a Covenant-breaker. While I don't agree that this is in itself an act of Covenant-breaking, I think it is outside the spirit of a true Baha'i to make such judgments. Slander and backbiting are condemned, and I really cannot think of a worse example of this than to say that a person is a Covenant-breaker.

Shoghi Effendi said it better through his secretary:

"If we Baha'is cannot attain to cordial unity among ourselves, then we fail to realize the main purpose for which the Bab, Baha'u'llah and the Beloved Master lived and suffered.

"In order to achieve this cordial unity one of the first essentials insisted on by Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha is that we resist the natural tendency to let our attention dwell on the faults and failings of others rather than on our own. Each of us is responsible for one life only, and that is our own. Each of us is immeasurably far from being "perfect as our heavenly father is perfect" and the task of perfecting our own life and character is one that requires all our attention, our will-power and energy. If we allow our attention and energy to be taken up in efforts to keep others right and remedy their faults, we are wasting precious time. We are like ploughmen each of whom has his team to manage and his plough to direct, and in order to keep his furrow straight he must keep his eye on his goal and concentrate on his own task. If he looks to this side and that to see how Tom and Harry are getting on and to criticize their ploughing, then his own furrow will assuredly become crooked.

"On no subject are the Baha'i teachings more emphatic than on the necessity to abstain from faultfinding and backbiting while being ever eager to discover and root out our own faults and overcome our own failings.

"If we profess loyalty to Baha'u'llah, to our Beloved Master and our dear Guardian, then we must show our love by obedience to these explicit teachings. Deeds not words are what they demand, and no amount of fervour in the use of expressions of loyalty and adulation will compensate for failure to live in the spirit of the teachings."

(From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; Compilation on Living the Life; The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 3, #1272)

At the same time, I think we have to be prudent and use good judgment about what we swallow, of what is said to us. If a person spends a lot of time dissecting the writings of the House and dismissing what he feels is not within its purview, I'm not going to place a lot of stock in such statements. Glenford Mitchell once made this trenchant statement: "We Baha'is should be soft-hearted, but not soft-headed." I think that we can exercise discretion about what we hear, without being unkind or cold to those who speak it.

Brent

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Postby Sen McGlinn » Sat Mar 10, 2007 7:54 pm

British Bahai is right -- I cut a corner or two, but I trust the basic paradox is clear. If we start judging who is or is not being faithful to the covenant, we are not being faithful ourselves, so we're unfit to judge. So the whole covenant-breaker thing, which (to get back to gf's opinions which started the thread) looks intolerant, is actually one of the guarantees of tolerance among the Bahais for differences of opinion and approach

Sen

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Postby British_Bahai » Sun Mar 11, 2007 5:58 am

Sen McGlinn wrote:
As individuals they are just like you and me (fallible), but when they as a group assemble in unity, the decision that arises out of that meeting is certainly infallible.


But - they have also said that the decisions they make depend on the information they are given, and if they are given more information they may change their decision. So "infallible" in Bahai teachings does not have the same meaning as it does in normal English use. It translates `ismat, and the person who has it is ma`suum, and I guess you know how many different opinions there have been in Islamic history about what that means.

The point is this - if your girlfriend says she cannot believe in infallibility, perhaps she is quite right It could be that the infallibility she does not believe in, we do not believe in either. It doesn't mean that the infallible person can never make a mistake.

There are a lot of replies that I would like to make to your whole post (not just this section), but Im extremely busy these few months and dont have time to quote long passages.

If that girl is undermining the infallibility of the UHJ, that is her opinion and whether she can accept it or not does not change what has clearly been stated in many of the texts.

When all members of the UHJ reach a decision, it is infallible. Its as simple as that. Whether one wants to accept it or not is a reflection of their faith.


Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, (that is one of the principles of the Bahai faith: "thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others") but let us not forget that an opinion is based on their own human limitations.

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(I would just like to say that in online discussions, sometimes what has been wrote can be interepreted differently to the way the author originally intended. I would like to make it clear that I am not debating with anyone!)


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