Posted by Brett Zamir (188.8.131.52) on September 01, 2002 at 16:36:44:
In Reply to: Re: The Exact Meanings? posted by Munir A. Qureshi on September 01, 2002 at 12:12:55:
Dear Munir A. Qureshi,
First of all, in the Baha'i Faith (as with most Muslim's understandings as well, I'm sure), Allah is merely the Arabic word for God, so though some may have false conceptions of this God (actually anything we conceive will be false), we are obviously referring to the same Ruler of all. And even if you were proselytizing, Baha'is would welcome you anyways.
Some people who are here may not really be Baha'is, but just like to antagonzie or misrepresent the Faith. Others of us simply vary in the maturity of our understanding. I not only assure you that the Baha'i Writings--which is ultimately the only test of what the Baha'i Faith says--encourage loving kindness to all peoples and patient suffering even in the face of violent opposition and persecution, but they also uphold Islam as a revealed religion of God, Muhammad as a Divine Messenger of God, and view Islam as not only the most recent revealed religion of God prior to the Baha'i Faith but also the one which has brought the most guidance to mankind prior to the Baha'i Faith, even to the degree of being responsible for the beneficial aspects of modern civilization and thought as we know it.
As to consideration of Satan, Djinn, etc., as beings, although it may be understandable why many have come to see them as such, the Baha'i interpretation relates that they are not beings at all. Angels have some basis as beings in our belief--those in the afterlife influencing goings-on in this world such as inspiring the arts, etc.--but even this reference may at times instead refer to holy individuals in this world.
For example, 'Abdu'l-Baha, the appointed Center of Baha'u'llah's Covenant, and His appointed Interpreter states:
'Now is the time to divest yourselves of the garment of attachment to this phenomenal realm, be wholly severed from the physical world, become angels of heaven, and travel and teach through all these regions.' (Lights of Guidance, no. 1778)
The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith--whom we also believe to be divinely preserved from error in his interpretations--states in a letter on his behalf:
"Regarding your question as to the meaning of Jin or Genii referred to in the Qur'an, these are not beings or creatures that are actually living, but are symbolic references to the power of men of evil and may be likened to evil spirits. But the point to bear in mind is that these have no positive existence of any kind."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual
believer, June 26, 1936: Baha'i News, No. 105, p. 1, February 1937)
Also perhaps related to your original quotation, the Universal House of Justice--the infallible elected body designated by Baha'u'llah--states:
"The House of Justice fully appreciates that in ... and ... there are
many instances of individuals being affected adversely by the psychic arts of other people. This is an observable phenomenon in many parts of the world and must, as you say, be taken into account by those who would teach the Faith. The important thing for Baha'is to understand is that the influence of such 'arts' is dependent on the conviction, even the subconscious conviction, of the person affected and, similarly, the power of the 'priests' to overcome the influence is likewise an outcome of the sufferer's conviction that it is from the 'priest' that he or she will be able to obtain help."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 30, 1984, quoted in Lights of Guidance, no. 1768)
"Now it depends on the person that he really feels effects
and relations of the supreme power or only imaginations are surrounding his atmosphere. Is it correct according to you?"
Yes. Although the Baha'i Writings do not rule out inspiration through visions nor do they ignore the role of intuition and meditation, etc. (they are indeed necessary), they do state that many perceptions that people have of such inspiration are just products of their own imagination and are insufficient alone for our need and desire to "know God".
"As regards ...'s claim to have direct revelations from God: Such visions and communications as he may receive cannot, from the standpoint of the Cause, be well considered in the nature of a direct and authoritative revelation from God such as experiences by Divine Prophets and Messengers. There is a fundamental difference between Divine Revelation as vouchsafed by God to His Prophets, and the spiritual experiences and visions which individuals may have. The latter should, under no circumstances, be construed as constituting an infallible source of guidance, even for the person experiencing them.
"The Guardian wishes you to fully explain and clarify this point to ...that he may have no illusion regarding the true Baha'i attitude on this and similar matters.
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated November 1, 1940, to an individual believer, Mrs. Kathryn Frankland: Ibid.)
According to the Baha'i Writings, as Loren points out above, the only way we believe humanity can know God is through His Manifestations--for example, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad, and now the Bab and Baha'u'llah.
Since we can no longer attain Their physical presence (until the next Manifestation of God arrives (at least 1000 years from 1852), we have Their most powerful testimony, Their Writings, to rely on.
In this Revelation, we are blessed to also have clear and guided interpretations of these Writings by 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, and have infallible elaborations made by the institution of the Universal House of Justice.
We can and should also find God's signs in ourselves, in others, in nature, etc., by using our reason, senses, and intuition, but we believe it is only through the Manifestations of God that we can find infallible guidance. Of course, its Spirit animates people with some guidance, even without their awareness, so peoples' lack of knowledge of Baha'u'llah does not mean that they are not influenced by Him--on the contrary. But for a much stronger guidance (although one which depends on our fallible understanding and application), we should turn to these Writings.
We can also come to a greater truth by relying on consultation with our fellow believers and others, including experts, etc. We also turn to our institutions for guidance.
Hope this addresses your question.
best wishes to you,
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