Posted by anon on June 26, 2101 at 12:40:09:
In Reply to: Request For Answer,anon... posted by Munir A. Qureshi on June 26, 2101 at 10:05:57:
Thank you for your questions again Munir... I will try to do my best. But like you, my understanding is also increasing by studying these works.
I believe I understand the section of the Kitab-i-Iqan you are speaking about. In the English it begins around paragraph 102 of Part II (it can be found here online).
In Paragraph 102, Baha'u'llah relates about a man with a reputation for great knowledge and attainments. He wrote a well known book and some asked Baha'u'llah about this book. Baha'u'llah states that he could detect vainity, self desires, etc from this writing. He speaks of one part of the text:
We noticed that he
had enumerated some twenty or more sciences, the knowledge of which he considered to be
essential for the comprehension of the mystery of the "Mi'ráj". We gathered from his
statements that unless a man be deeply versed in them all, he can never attain to a proper
understanding of this transcendent and exalted theme. Among the specified sciences were the
science of metaphysical abstractions, of alchemy, and natural magic. Such vain and discarded
learnings, this man hath regarded as the pre-requisites of the understanding of the sacred
abiding mysteries of divine Knowledge.
In the next paragraph, He states:
How can the knowledge of these sciences, which are so contemptible in the eyes of the truly learned, be
regarded as essential to the apprehension of the mysteries of the "Mi'ráj," whilst the Lord of
the "Mi'ráj" Himself was never burdened with a single letter of these limited and obscure
learnings, and never defiled His radiant heart with any of these fanciful illusions? How truly
hath he said: "All human attainment moveth upon a lame ass, whilst Truth, riding upon the
wind, darteth across space." By the righteousness of God! Whoso desireth to fathom the
mystery of this "Mi'ráj," and craveth a drop from this ocean, if the mirror of his heart be
already obscured by the dust of these learnings, he must needs cleanse and purify it ere the
light of this mystery can be reflected therein.
I would like to first address what is the overall statement being made in my opinion. This author of this book claimed that all this worldly knowledge of sciences was needed to understand the Mi'raj of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him). If such learning was necessary only to understand the Mi'raj, can you imagine what sciences would be necessary to understand the Qur'an and Islam? Baha'u'llah is saying that Faith and religious understanding and knowledge is only based on the purity of heart. By purity of heart we can think of being open to new ideas, deciding truth for ourselves, and purity of motive. By motive, I mean learning for the sake of your Faith or teaching the Faith as opposed to learning to "show off" and achieve greatness in the eyes of others. There are many stories in all faiths that the early believers were often without education or status, yet could recognize and understand the essence of the religious teachings.
The statement about the donkey. We can try to understand the Greatness and the Importance of the Word of God in comparison to the words of men. The writings and achievments of men move slowly (upon a donkey) and were they unaided would not be at the state they are today. (Baha'is believe that tremendous forces are released on earth with the advent of a Messenger of God, for example the progress of the Islamic world in all fields of arts and sciences while Europe was in the dark ages and now the advancements of technology and medicine in the last 150 years.) And by "Truth" is meant the Divine Truth, the Word of God - this is immeasurably exalted and more advanced than man can ever hope to attain.
There is a story about the greatest Baha'i Scholar, Mirza Abu'l-Fadl. He was one of the leading mujtahid and extremely knowledgable and well-known for his knowledge of Islam. He received a copy of the Kitab-i-Iqan and is said to have read it 17 times with the eye of intellect. He found nothing of interest and no "truth" in this for himself and disregarded it as meaningless ramblings. It was not until that he read it with a pure heart that he was able to comprehend its mysteries and then become a Baha'i.
So the understanding and acceptance of a religion is not based on earthly learning, for that would contradict God's mercy to all humankind if only the smartest could recognize His Messengers.
The next paragraph:
In this day, they that are submerged beneath the ocean of ancient Knowledge, and dwell
within the ark of divine wisdom, forbid the people such idle pursuits. Their shining breasts are,
praise be to God, sanctified from every trace of such learning, and are exalted above such
grievous veils. We have consumed this densest of all veils, with the fire of the love of the
Beloved--the veil referred to in the saying: "The most grievous of all veils is the veil of
knowledge." Upon its ashes, We have reared the tabernacle of divine knowledge. We have,
praise be to God, burned the "veils of glory" with the fire of the beauty of the Best-Beloved.
We have driven from the human heart all else but Him Who is the Desire of the world, and
glory therein. We cleave to no knowledge but His Knowledge, and set our hearts on naught
save the effulgent glories of His light.
In the context I just gave, we can understand this better that Faith is more dependent on love than on education. For it was the most educated divines of Jewish law that rejected Christ. It was the learned leaders of Christiandom that rejected the Prophet Muhammad. And so as well was it the most-schools leaders of the 1800s that rejected the Bab and Baha'u'llah.
So now we can see why science and chemistry are not important for understanding the Diving Truth. I am sure you and I can both testify to the importance of the soul. The Holy Writings all say that the soul is immortal, but it is not something that is physical and it will not be on the earth when we die. Since sciences like chemistry only apply to earth, what use will their understanding be to the soul in the other worlds of God? It is more essential and important to have an understanding of Divine Knowledge of Wisdom. But, this is not to say all earthly knowledge is to be rejected. Baha'u'llah repeatedly stresses the importance of learning so that everyone may engage in a profesion that will benefit mankind.
2) I cannot support this with so much text, but I will try to give one possible explanation that is my opinion. Christ said to his followers that there was much to tell them but they could not bear it then. The Old Testament states that the books would be sealed up to the end times. We can see that there was divine knowledge and understanding that was not fully revealed to mankind in these times that would be revealed later. I believe that this time in now. The Qur'an contains many reference which now can be understood in the context of science. I do not know the specific verses, but I will try my best. For example, there is somewhere that says the universe is expanding. Not until very recently have we discovered that this was a true fact. You also talk about alchemy (the changing of baser metals into gold). Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha said that this would soon happen. And it has happened - with nuclear technology any element can be changed to any other... and iron and such can be turned into gold. But at the time They said this, chemistry as we know it did not exist and barely a drop of its knowledge today was discovered. So even though it did not agree with the science of that time, it now is possible.
Once again, we can see how human knowledge is riding on a slow donkey, whereas Diving Knowledge soars in the air.
What do you think? I hope I have made some sense to you. That is all for now but I look forward to the questions this has raised and any other questions you may have.
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