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Abstract:
Examination of hikmat within the Bahá'í community, especially as it refers to survival strategies in situations of danger or insecurity.

Wisdom and Dissimulation:
The Use and Meaning of Hikmat in the Bahá'í Writings and History

by Susan Maneck

published in Bahá'í Studies Review, 6
1996
The purpose of this paper is to examine a particular technical meaning of the term wisdom or hikmat, as that term appears both in Bahá'í Writings and historical accounts. In many cases hikmat calls for the apparent suspension of a Bahá'í principle in order to ensure the protection of the Faith. This by no means exhausts the ways in which the term hikmat appears in these there. When Greek philosophical texts were translated into Arabic, sophia or metaphysical truth and phronesis or prudence were both translated using the same term hikmat for what were two distinct Aristotelian concepts. For Aristotle sophia was the knowledge of eternal and principles while phronesis referred to the realm of moral and political action. Bahá'u'lláh's usage of the term hikmat often reflects both these meaning. This paper however, will largely confine itself to those instances where the term seem to have reflected the meaning of phronesis.[1] Bahá'u'lláh regarded the application of any of his laws as contained in the Kitab-i-Aqdas as conditional upon the exercise of wisdom.[2] Likewise the dissemination of Bahá'í writings was limited for the same reason.[3] Shoghi Effendi, while affirming "that at the very root of the Cause lies the principle of the undoubted right of the individual to self-expression," found it necessary to insist that Bahá'ís temporarily submit their work to censors before publication as a provisional measure "designed to guard and protect the Cause in its present state of infancy and growth until the day when this tender and precious plant shall have sufficiently grown to be able to withstand the unwisdom of its friends and the attacks of its enemies."[4] Adib Taherzadeh, who has written most extensively on Bahá'u'lláh's writings, defines the Bahá'í use of wisdom in these terms: By wisdom is meant taking any praiseworthy action through which the Cause of God may be promoted. Lack of wisdom is to take actions which owing to circumstances result in harming the Faith, even though they may be carried out with the best possible motive.[5]

This definition, though by no means inaccurate, too vaguely conveys the pragmatic usage to which this term was applied and why and how the term "wisdom" or hikmat came to acquire such a meaning. Observing wisdom' in practice often involved acts which would not ordinarily be regarded as praiseworthy.' These included: denying or misleading people regarding one's Bahá'í identity, concealing inconvenient aspects of the Bahá'í teachings, and compromising certain Bahá'í principles. It is my thesis that the term "wisdom," where it refers to behavior enjoined for protection of the Faith, has its roots deep within Iranian theology, culture and history. Its usage is not dissimilar from the inscrutable Wisdom of God as depicted in Persian religion as far back as Zoroastrianism. It ties in as well to Iranian conventions of etiquette (ta'aruf). Further, hikmat serves a function not dissimilar to the role played by taqiyyih or dissimulation in Shi'ite Islam.

Wisdom and Persian Cultural Norms

Persian etiquette, or ta'aruf, involves the concealment and control of one's personal feelings or opinions in service of smooth public interactions. At times this may amount to no more than refusing refreshments when initially offered no matter how hungry the person may be; at other times it involves much more complex social interactions where relative status is determined. Iranians often tend to reserve access to their inner self to a small circle of intimates. Among these persons, interactions ought to be pure and constant, maintaining a spiritual integrity. With those outside that circle one behaves with reserve and formality, concealing one's true intentions. Westerners often interpret this behavior as hypocritical. When ta'aruf is combined with a market place shrewdness, zerangi, which is often marked by a lack of social responsibility, this negative impression is further reinforced.[6] Iranians deem such behavior as courteous, prudent, and necessary when dealing with an uncertain and treacherous world. Far from being cynical and insincere, they see themselves as simply conducting themselves with wisdom. As was mentioned earlier, hikmat served a function within the early Iranian Bahá'í community very similar to the role of taqiyyih or dissimulation in Shi'ite Islam. Taqiyyih refers to the practice concealing one's belief in order to avoid persecution. Such behavior is condoned, and even required of Shi'ites who frequently lived among a hostile Sunni majority. The Qur'anic verse condemning apostasy but which adds the words "except for those who are compelled while their hearts are firm in faith" is used to justify this practice.[7] As in ta'aruf, a distinction is made between outward behavior and inner conviction. Taqiyyih might involve nothing more than assuming prayer positions of Sunni Muslims while performing obligatory prayers publicly or it might entail an actual denial of one's faith.

During the medieval period of Islamic history taqiyyih came to be practiced by philosophers and mystics as well as Shi'ites in order to protect themselves against persecution on the part of the more bigoted ulama. Such an approach was encouraged by even the great Sunni theologian al-Ghazali, who argued for what the renowned historian of Islam, Marshall Hodgson, has described as a "pattern of gradation and concealment of knowledge."[8] Ordinary believers were not to be given access to certain types of religious knowledge lest they misunderstand it and stumble as a result. Likewise Avicenna, the greatest of Islamic Aristotileans, would in his capacity as a qadi, or Islamic judge, condemn those who too freely popularized the teachings of Aristotle. Sufis likewise critized al-Hallaj, the famous mystic who was crucified for asserting "I am the truth," not because the sentiment was heretical in itself but because al-Hallaj was revealing secrets' which might incline the common people towards blasphemy. Knowledge in the Islamic world came to be divided into exoteric and esoteric categories. The exoteric knowledge was accessible to all Muslims and tended to be conceived in unambiguous black and white terms. Esoteric knowledge required initiation and works containing such knowledge tended to be worded in such a way as to be unintelligible to those not already familiar with its mysteries. As Marshall Hodgson points out: When all dissenting statements were cast in esoteric form, explicitly acknowledging the correctness of the received exoteric doctrines . . . it became easy to find excuses for doubt about a dissenter. No one denied the official positions; the question was simply whether what else a person said did in fact contradict those positions. But if writing was done with sufficient obscurity, guilt could never be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.[9]

While this approach allowed for much more intellectual diversity to exist within the Islamic World than was possible in Christendom at the time, there was a price to be paid for dissimulation. The Muslim intelligentsia, in making themselves incomprehensible to the common people, sacrificed any hope of changing the direction of the community as a whole.

Wisdom in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh

While dissimulation was condemned in Bahá'u'lláh's writings, many aspects of the practice persisted under the name of hikmat. Bahá'u'lláh wrote: In this Day, We can neither approve the conduct of the fearful that seeketh to dissemble his faith, nor sanction the behaviour of the avowed believer that clamourously asserteth his allegiance to this Cause. Both should observe the dictates of wisdom, and strive diligently to serve the best interests of the Faith.[10]

In the Tablet of Medicine as well as the Tablet of the Proof Bahá'u'lláh pairs wisdom with eloquence or explication (hikmat va bayan), implying that one should proclaim the Cause discretely. In the case of the Tablet of the Proof Bahá'u'lláh insisted that the believers exercise wisdom by not protesting their mistreatment at the hands of the authorities: To none is given the right to protest against anyone concerning that which hath befallen the Cause of God. It behoveth whosoever hath set his face towards the Most Sublime Horizon to cleave tenaciously unto the cord of patience, to put his reliance in God, the Help in Peril, the Unconstrained. O ye loved ones of God! Drink your fill from the wellspring of wisdom, and walk ye in the garden of wisdom, and speak forth with wisdom and eloquence. Thus biddeth you your Lord, the Almighty, the All-knowing.[11]

The injunction to observe wisdom' was due to the dangerous situation in which Bahá'ís in Iran found themselves. In the Tablet of Medicine, Bahá'u'lláh states that the purpose of hikmat is the protection of the friends in order that they may remain within the world to make mention of the Lord of all worlds.[12] Most commonly hikmat involved presenting the Faith to non-believers in ways which avoided controversy and insured a positive reception. In Bahá'u'lláh's words, Fix your gaze upon wisdom in all things, for it is an unfailing antidote. How often hath it turned a disbeliever into a believer or a foe into a friend? It observance is highly essential, inasmuch as this hath been set forth in numerous Tablets revealed from the empyrean of the Will of Him Who is the Manifestation of the light of divine unity. Well is it with them that act accordingly.[13]

At times even the Lawh-i-Hikmat, in which text hikmat usually refers to Greek philosophy, Bahá'u'lláh has this meaning in mind, Say: Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. . . . As to its moderation, this has to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets.[14]

An instance where Bahá'u'lláh Himself exercises this kind of wisdom can be seen in a Tablet addressed to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl in answer to some questions raised by by Manakji, a Parsi for whom Abu'l-Fadl worked. Manakji had asked how it could be, if all religions came from God, that they all had different laws and ordinances such that one forbade pork, while another prohibited beef. Bahá'u'lláh tells him that since the answer to this question goes against Islamic teachings, it would be contrary to wisdom to give him a direct answer, especially since Manakji had in his employ people of various religions who might chance upon this letter.[15] Instead Bahá'u'lláh alludes to the Tablet of the Divine Physician where He has said that every age has different needs and that one should examine the Bahá'í teachings as to whether they are the remedy for today's ills.[16] This perspective would have offended Muslims since they believed that each religion began with the same teachings which only subsequently became corrupted to be finally restored with Islam. In order to avoid charges of heresy, Bahá'u'lláh tries to be as discreet as possible in suggesting that the various religions have had different laws and ordinances from the start. He alludes to the necessity of feeding infants milk and not meat lest they perish. To do otherwise would be wrong and and far from wisdom. Only the Manifestation of God can determine such matters.[17] While at times hikmat involved concealing one's genuine views in situations of insecurity and possible persecution, Bahá'u'lláh at other times spoke of it in broader terms as that sagacity of spirit which ought to typify all of our human interactions at all times. This seems to be the sense in which He uses it in the following Hidden Word:

O SON OF DUST! The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing, even as the cup-bearer, who proffereth not his cup till he findeth a seeker, and the lover who crieth not from the depths of his heart until he gazeth upon the beauty of his beloved. Wherefore sow the seeds of wisdom and knowledge in the pure soil of the heart, and keep them hidden, till the hyacinths of divine wisdom spring from the heart and not from mire and clay.[18]

Wisdom within the Bahá'í Community

While Bahá'u'lláh made a clear distinction between hikmat and taqiyyih for many of the early believers, the difference appears to have been slight. Muhammad Tahir Malmari, in his account of Bahá'í martyrdoms in Yazd, frequently describes instances where believers accused of being Bahá'ís explicitly denied that this was so. Yet when told to prove their disbelief by cursing or condemning the religion they silently went to their deaths, "firm and steadfast," according to Malmari.[19] Cursing for a nineteenth century Iranian was conceived of as having very real and concrete effects. This no doubt partly accounts for the Bahá'ís' insistence at drawing a line at this point. But it seems also that early Bahá'ís made a distinction between denying their own identity as Bahá'ís, an act which under duress they were willing to commit, and denying the validity of the Faith itself, for which they were prepared to die before doing. Responses to interrogation varied from individual. Malmari's accounts include the case of a Bahá'í who when asked if he was a Babi courageously responded, No, he was a Bahá'í and proceeded to describe the difference.[20] This behavior was more the exception than the rule, though. The distinction Bahá'ís made between denying their identity as Bahá'ís and denying the validity of the Bahá'í revelation is borne out by the behavior of Jewish Bahá'ís in Hamadan during this period. Ruhu'u'llah Mihrabkhani reports that the Jewish Bahá'ís of Hamadan in the nineteenth century, "in order to observe hikmat" went to the Presbyterian missionaries and feigned conversion to Christianity. They continued to associate themselves with the missionaries until Mirza Abu'l-Fadl visited Hamadan and, in the course of his discussions with the missionaries, made it clear that the Jews had come to recognize Jesus as the Messiah only by virtue of having accepted the message of Bahá'u'lláh.[21] Following this and similar incidents one missionary urged others to insist that any candidate for church membership be required to specifically deny that Bahá'u'lláh was the "return" of the preceding prophet in a manner analogous to the way in which Christians understood John the Baptist to be the "return" of Elijah. The "confession" of faith recommended for baptismal candidates went as follows, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; that He really died on the cross for our salvation; that He really and truly rose from the dead, leaving behind an empty tomb; that He alone is the Savior of the World. I deny the doctrine of rij'at (return), by which I am to believe that Jesus was Moses returned, and that Mohammad, the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh were returns' of Jesus, and I declare it to be false teaching. Accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior I declare Mohammad, the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh to have been false prophets and false guides, leading men away from the truth.[22]

While this declaration involved no actual cursing of the Bab or Bahá'u'lláh, missionaries felt confident that no Bahá'í would make such a confession and they were quite correct. Denying one's identity as a Bahá'í was the most extreme form of hikmat practiced within the community and such behavior ceased to be sanctioned during the ministry of Shoghi Effendi.[23] Given the extreme dangers and persecutions which Bahá'ís have faced throughout their history, that compromise and concealment would be condoned is quite understandable. The issue remains, though, as to why such acts were termed "wisdom?"

Divine Wisdom and Foresight

Wisdom in the Iranian context is often identified with foresight. In Shoghi Effendi's writings in English, the word wisdom can often be replaced with foresight without any loss of meaning. Unwisdom is sometimes directly paired with shortsightedness. In a letter dated November 28, 1931, for instance, he in large part blames the Depression on the "unwisdom and shortsightedness" of the framers of the Versailles Peace Treaty.[24] The notion of wisdom as foresight goes back as far as Zoroastrianism, Iran's oldest prophetic religion, where it is regarded as the chief attribute which distinguishes God from the Evil One and insures His ultimate victory. In Zoroastrianism, God is addressed as Ahura Mazda, meaning Wise Lord. During the Sassanian period when Zoroastrian thought became crystallized, Ahura Mazda was not considered omnipotent, for His power was limited by the independent existence of Ahriman, the Evil One. His sole advantage over Ahriman rests in His possession of wisdom as foresight, which Ahriman utterly lacks. When, in the Pre-existence Ahriman insisted on making war on Ahura Mazda and rejected Ahura Mazda's overtures of peace, Ahura Mazda tricked Ahriman into setting a time limit on the battle, thus inventing lineal time. Ahura Mazda with His wisdom could foresee that once a limit was set on time, evil itself would be limited and contained, and the victory of the forces of good would be assured. Ahriman, unable to foresee this outcome, agreed to the terms. Ahura Mazda then revealed to Ahriman the eventual outcome of his folly, and Ahriman fell unconscious and remained so for the next three thousand years, during which period Ahura Mazda created the material world which would aid in Ahriman's eventual destruction.

Frequently Bahá'í writings refer to divine wisdom as an act of selective concealment in order to obtain long-range benefits. Such wisdom is embedded in the very notion of Progressive Revelation, wherein God has revealed Himself not in accordance with His own Being but in accordance with the capacity of humanity to receive knowledge of Him. In The Seven Valleys Bahá'u'lláh asserts that one who has obtained true knowledge will apprehend "the divine wisdom in the endless Manifestations of God" and will not be mislead by the seemingly contradictory nature of God's activity in the world.[25] An instance of such seemingly contradictory events was the discontinuance of the institution of a living Guardian at the death of Shoghi Effendi. According to the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Guardian of the Cause of God had the responsibility "to appoint in his own life-time him that shall become his successor, that differences may not arise after his passing . . ."[26] Yet Shoghi Effendi passed away without providing for a successor or writing a will. But as the Universal House of Justice pointed out, at Shoghi Effendi's death there were no potential candidates for this position, the Guardian having been childless and his family members having died or been expelled from the community. Consequently the House of Justice insisted: The fact that Shoghi Effendi did not leave a will cannot be adduced as evidence of his failure to obey Bahá'u'lláh--rather should we acknowledge that in his very silence there is a wisdom and a sign of his infallible guidance.[27]

On the issue of women's rights, divine wisdom, in the sense we have just discussed it, and the injunction upon Bahá'ís to observe "wisdom" in their action directly converge. While Bahá'u'lláh unequivocally proclaimed the equality of men and women,[28] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in answer to a question regarding the exclusion of women from the Chicago House of Justice, replied that the House of Justice, "according to the explicit text of the Law of God, is confined to men, this for a wisdom of the Lord God's, which will ere long be made manifest as clearly as the sun at high noon."[29] Seven years later 'Abdu'l-Bahá ruled that this exclusion applied only to the as yet unformed Universal House of Justice and allowed women in America to serve on local bodies.[30] When women in Iran, however, attempted to imitate the American Bahá'í women by discarding the veil and demanding a greater role in Bahá'í administration, 'Abdu'l- Bahá insisted that "nothing should be done contrary to wisdom." He further admonished them, Ye need to be calm and composed, so that the work will proceed with wisdom, otherwise there will be such chaos that ye will leave everything and run away. "This newly born babe is traversing in one night the path that needeth a hundred years to tread." [A Persian proverb]. In brief, ye should now engage in matters of pure spirituality and not contend with men. 'Abdu'l-Bahá will tactfully take appropriate steps. Be assured. In the end thou wilt thyself exclaim, "This was indeed supreme wisdom!"[31]

'Abdu'l-Bahá's anxiety over the agitation of Iranian Bahá'í women was quite understandable. Nothing would have aroused greater antipathy from Muslims than to see Bahá'í women uncovered and moving freely and equally among men. A women could not consult privately on a council with men and expect to maintain her reputation. Bahá'u'lláh Himself provided for the progressive application of Bahá'í law for reasons of wisdom. He stated, Indeed, the laws of God are like unto the ocean and the children of men as fish, did they but know it. However, in observing them one must exercise tact and wisdom... Since most people are feeble and far removed from the purpose of God, therefore one must observe tact and prudence under all conditions, so that nothing might happen that could cause disturbance and dissension or raise clamor among the headless.[32]

This principle has been applied by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi in the case of Bahá'í teachings on monogamy. The Kitab-i Aqdas appears to allow bigamy when it states: "Beware that ye take not unto yourselves more wives than two."[33] In an untranslated letter 'Abdu'l-Bahá gave a believer permission to take a second wife. He also indicated that the law concerning taking no more than two wives cannot be abrogated. He also noted that this law was conditional upon justice which was a condition virtually impossible to fulfill, but that 'Abdu'l-Bahá would not prevent believers from marrying a second wife if they were certain they would act with justice.[34] Both during the ministry of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá bigamy was practiced in Bahá'í communities within the Middle East. Yet in another Tablet 'Abdu'l-Bahá stated:

Know thou that polygamy is not permitted under the law of God, for contentment with one wife hath been clearly stipulated. Taking a second wife is made dependent upon equity and justice being upheld between the two wives, under all conditions. However, observance of justice and equity towards two wives is utterly impossible. The fact that bigamy has been made dependent upon an impossible condition is clear proof of its absolute prohibition. Therefore it is not permissible for a man to have more than one wife.[35]

Shoghi Effendi later determined that this statement of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's would be considered normative within the Bahá'í community.[36] A letter from the Research Department of the World Centre on this topic suggests that 'Abdu'l-Bahá "introduced the question of monogamy gradually in accordance with the principles of wisdom and the progressive unfoldment of His purpose."[37] As we have seen, the term wisdom in Bahá'í writings whether it refers to inscrutable divine wisdom or the caution and tact with which Bahá'ís are urged to conduct themselves for the protection of the Faith usually carries with it the connotation of foresight. In practice, the word could be used within the community to refer to acts which seemingly contradicted some of the basic principles of the Faith but which in the long term were seen as serving its best interest. Especially included among such acts have been the willingness on the part of believers to deny their Bahá'í identity under persecution, the temporary exercise of censorship, and compromises made in regards to gender issues.

Wisdom and Scholarship

The concept of hikmat as we have just discussed it sometimes finds itself on a collision course with another principle held dear to Bahá'ís, the independent investigation of truth. If, in the name of hikmat it is possible to obscure, conceal, or compromise the Bahá'í teachings in any way, how can anyone, Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í conduct an adequate investigation of its validity. How can anyone be expected "to see with their own eyes and not through the eyes of others" if others determine what they will be allowed to examine? In recent years this issue has acquired a certain urgency especially among Western believers, most of whom are converts who would never have left the religion of their fathers to become Bahá'ís had they not already been committed in their hearts to this principle. This issue looms especially large for Bahá'í academicians and scholars. While the Bahá'í community in general, and the Persian believers in particular, might wish for the Bahá'í academic scholar to confine himself to topics which edify the community and further the expansion of the Cause, the individual scholar often feels that his research should only be guided by the principle "He must so cleanse his heart that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth."[38] In this connection the scholar, often much to the dismay of some Bahá'ís, sometimes finds it most productive to shine his light in the darkened corners. In connection with this issue, it should be recognized that Bahá'u'lláh laid a special burden upon the learned in connection with the exercise of wisdom.

In the Lawh-i-Maqsud, Bahá'u'lláh discusses the way in which the learned should "impart guidance unto the people."[39] "No man of wisdom," He asserts, "can demonstrate his knowledge save by means of words." "Moreover," He continues, "words and utterances should be both impressive and penetrating. However, no word will be infused with these two qualities unless it be uttered wholly for the sake of God and with due regard unto the exigencies of the occasion and the people." Bahá'u'lláh goes on to say, Every word is endowed with a spirit, therefore the speaker or expounder should deliver his words at the appropriate time and place, for the impression which each word maketh is clearly evident and perceptible. . . .One word may be likened unto fire, another unto light, and the influence of both is manifest in the world. Therefore, an enlightened man of wisdom should primarily speak with words as mild as milk, that the children of men may be nurtured and edified thereby and may attain the ultimate goal of human existence . . . It behoveth the prudent man of wisdom to speak with utmost leniency and forbearance so that the sweetness of his words may induce everyone to attain that which befitteth man's station.[40]

Elsewhere in the same Tablet Bahá'u'lláh reiterates the connection of wisdom with tolerance. He says, "The heaven of divine wisdom is illumined with the two luminaries of consultation and compassion"[41] and elsewhere, "The heaven of true understanding shineth resplendent with the light of two luminaries: tolerance and righteousness."[42] This Tablet suggests that a number of factors should be considered when judging the "wisdom" of our work. First and foremost is our purpose; is our work done for the sake of God or are other motives in operation? Secondly, we must consider our audience. To whom do we address our work and under what circumstances? Finally we must consider our tone, is it reflective of the forbearance, tolerance, and compassion which Bahá'u'lláh urges us to exhibit? Is it conveyed in such a spirit as to be conducive of further discourse and consultation? I propose no easy answers to the dilemma imposed upon the scholar who strives to adhere both to the standards of wisdom and truth. Observing wisdom' and the independent investigation of truth' are both principles enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh. But two things must be kept in mind in connection with this issue. First wisdom, when it involves a temporary suspension of a Bahá'í principle, must be always regarded as an emergency measure which should cease once the circumstances which created it no longer operate. Secondly, wisdom, as I have established, carries with it the connotation of farsightedness. Acts accord with wisdom, not to the extent to which they make the friends feel comfortable, but to the extent to which they further the Cause of God in the long term.

In this respect, it must be recognized that many actions Bahá'ís have taken in the name of hikmat proved to be short-sighted indeed. Consider again the case of the Jewish Bahá'ís of Hamadan who in the name of hikmat pretended to become Presbyterians. This action aroused the antagonism of Dr. Sa'id Khan, a Kurdish convert to Christianity. Convinced by the duplicity of those Bahá'ís that the Bahá'í Faith was a religion based on deception, he went on to collect as much dirt' on the Cause as he could. The material he collected was eventually turned over to Rev. William McElwee Miller and became the basis of his two books attacking the Faith.[43] Even those missionaries who, unlike Miller, had no investment in converting others came to see the Bahá'ís as a people without integrity. Some of these, such as T. Cuyler Young, when on to become eminent scholars in America and their attitudes have spread to academicians throughout the country. I could name several other cases, much more recent than the one cited, where prominent persons have rejected the Cause as a result of actions taken and policies made in the name of hikmat. Bahá'ís must exercise constant vigilance to insure that hikmat not be used to obtain short-term gains or avoid immediate conflicts without considering its long-term consequences. Such actions are, in fact, contrary to wisdom.

Notes

1. My thanks to Dr. Nader Saiedi for bringing this distinction between sophia and phronesis to my attention. For Aristotle's treatment see The Nicomachean Ethics 1140a24-1142b12.

2. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee, no. 28, p.179. Cited in Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, p. 321.

3. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee, no. 15, pp. 423-24.

4. Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, (Wilmette: 1974), p. 63. That censorship is contrary to Bahá'í principles is underscored by Bahá'u'lláh's prohibition against the destruction or burning of books in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, (Haifa: Universal House of Justice, 1992), p. 48.

5. Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Vol. 4, p. 320.

6. Early studies on the Iranian "character" have been reviewed and critiqued in Ali Banuazizi, "Iranian 'National Character': A Critique of Some Western Perspectives," in Psychological Dimensions of Near Eastern Studies, eds. L. Carl Brown and Norman Itzkowitz (Princeton: Darwin Press, 1977), pp, 210-39. Later studies stress the flexibility of Iranian social interactions. See William O. Beeman, "Status, Style and Strategy in Iranian interactions," Anthropological Linguistics, 18 (1976), 305-22.

7. Qur'an 16:106.

8. Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, Vol. 2, p. 194.

9. Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, Vol. 2, pp. 199-200.

10. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 343.

11. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 212-3.

12. Majmu'a-yi Alwah-I Mubaraka (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1981) p. 226.

13. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 256.

14. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 143.

15. Ma'idih-I Asmani vol. 7, p. 171. My thanks to Dr. Juan Cole and Dr. Ahang Rabbani for bringing this Tablet to my attention and assisting me in gaining access to it.

16. Ma'idih-I Asmani vol. 7, p. 171

17. Ma'idih-I Asmani vol. 7, p. 172.

18. Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, pp. 34-35.

19. Muhammad Tahir Malmari, Tarikh-i-Shuhaday-i- Yazd, p. 30-34.

20. Muhammad Tahir Malmari, Tarikh-i-Shuhaday-i- Yazd, p. 59.

21. Ruhu'u'llah Mihrabkhani, Sharhi Ahval-I Jinab-I Abu'l-Fadl-I Gulpaygani (Teheran, 1976), pp. 129-30.

22. J. R. Richards, The Religion of the Bahá'ís, (New York: Macmillian, 1932) pp. 235-6.

23. In Iran today persons wishing to leave the country by plane must sign a form stating that they are not Bahá'ís. Bahá'í institutions, therefore, have regarded Bahá'ís who left Iran by the Tehran airport as apostates.

24. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p.35. This is one of the few instances where Shoghi Effendi applies the term "unwisdom" to non-Bahá'ís. He also applies it to Kaiser Wilhelm II for his dismissal of Bismarck. The Promised Day is Come, pp. 57-58.

25. Bahá'u'lláh, The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, p. 12.

26. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 11.

27. The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, Messages, 1963-1968, p. 82.

28. "Exalted, immensely exalted is He Who hath removed differences and established harmony. Glorified, infinitely glorified is He who hath caused discord to cease, and decreed solidarity and unity. Praised be God, the Pen of the Most High hath lifted distinctions from between His servants and handmaidens and, through His consummate favours and all-encompassing mercy, hath conferred upon all a station and rank on the same plane. He hath broken the back of vain imaginings with the sword of utterance and hath obliterated the perils of idle fancies through the pervasive power of His might." Bahá'u'lláh from Women, p. 1.

29. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 80.

30. Cited in the May 31, 1988 letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of New Zealand.

31. Women, p. 5. Iranian women finally received the right to hold office in 1954.

32. Cited in Introduction to The Kitab-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book, p. 6.

33. Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book, ›63.

34. Mazandarani, Fadil, Amr va Khalq, vol. 4, (Tihran: 1974/5-131 B.E.), pp. 175-76.

35. Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book, p. 206.

36. The Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf: "Regarding Bahá'í marriage: in the light of the Master's Tablet interpreting the provision in the "Aqdas" on the subject of the plurality of wives, it becomes evident that monogamy alone is permissible, and monogamy alone should be practiced." Cited in The Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Note 17, p. 59.

37. Memorandum from the Research Department to the Universal House of Justice 27 June 1996. My thanks to Milissa Boyer for providing me with a copy of this document. Most of my discussion of the issue of bigamy is based on it.

38. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 192.

39. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 172.

40. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp.172-72.

41. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 168.

42. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 169- 70.

43. William McElwee Miller, Bahá'ísm. Its Origin, History, and Teachings (Fleming H. Revell Co. , 1931). William McElwee Miller, The Bahá'í Faith: Its History and Teachings (South Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1974). For biographical information on Dr. Sa'id Khan see Isaac Malek Yonan, The Beloved Physician of Teheran (Nashville: Cokesbury Press, 1934) and William McElwee Miller, Ten Muslims Meet Christ, pp. 33-48.

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