Re: arson, terrorism, burning, torture

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Posted by Brett Zamir ( on July 07, 2002 at 01:23:41:

In Reply to: Re: arson, terrorism, burning, torture posted by BK on July 06, 2002 at 16:55:38:

Dear BK,

I agree with the spirit of most of your points, but there are a few areas in which I disagree with your arguments.

While your interpretation of burning referring to after death may be possible in a literal reading of the words, I think the notes of the Kitab-i-Aqdas (the link to it is in my original post) imply that this is not correct.

Moreover, though I'm sure this was not your intention at all, I think we should be wary of a tendency to apologetically fudge the Writings to (part of ) modern society's inclinations. Many--or perhaps even all--of the greatest gems of truth of the Writings lie in those areas which challenge modern society. Remember the counsel not to weigh the Book of God with our own standards? I seem to remember either Baha'u'llah or 'Abdu'l-Baha referring to some individuals who felt the need to explain away some of the Qur'an to the understandings of the time, even though the plain meaning was the scientific truth which became evident over time. Of course, knowing how to distinguish between literal and figurative meanings is not always easy to do (though we are told that a distinction between plain laws and mystical utterances is evident in the Writings--though of course either of these may require further elaboration or interpretation).

The reason I bring up this topic now is that, at least in America or other countries touched by indiscriminate terror, there is possibly now a much greater receptivity to the need for stronger solutions to the problem which I think the Kitab-i-Aqdas may provide.

As to your point that such criminals are not potentially reformable, I would have to disagree. If they were not reformable, why otherwise would they, as you point out, be able to be forgiven by God? They may be reformable, but that is largely irrelevant in this case given the other interests of society. I also don't think reformability is related to the valid issue of deterrence.

And I think it is not the suffering of death per se which may lessen the criminal's punishment in the next world (though it may be part of it), but more their opportunity for asking forgiveness in this world which can lead to their redemption, as 'Abdu'l-Baha seems to indicate. Suffering seems that it can be prolonged for indefinite periods, including into the next worlds, if there is an unwillingness to repent.

best wishes,

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