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Symbolic = Confusion????

Posted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 6:14 pm
by playexyshoola
Hi all:

I have a question for all og you, and i really want a reasonable answer.

Why is is that WE, as Bahai's are not allowed to debate?...i mean religious debate!

and also i really want to know why the word symbolic happens to be answer to everything.....Most of the things that i read in the quran since i have started reserach in this forum, we explain them as being symbolic!!!
We accept the quran and believe its a holy book...then how can we assume what allah is telling us in symple words are symbolic...eg. Heaven and Hell..

Please give me proper explanation that does not use the word symbolic in it.......

asal

Posted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 9:47 pm
by brettz9
asal wrote:Why is is that WE, as Bahai's are not allowed to debate?...i mean religious debate!


Do you mean debate with people of other religions?

We are not allowed to argue:
Do not argue with anyone, and be wary of disputation. Speak out the truth. If your hearer accepteth, the aim is achieved. If he is obdurate, you should leave him to himself, and place your trust in God. Such is the quality of those who are firm in the Covenant.

('Abdu'l-Baha, From a Tablet- translated from the Persian, in http://bahai-library.com/?file=compilat ... ching#1926 )


But, we are also supposed to defend the Baha'i Faith:
If any man were to arise to defend, in his writings, the Cause of God against its assailants, such a man, however inconsiderable his share, shall be so honoured in the world to come that the Concourse on high would envy his glory. No pen can depict the loftiness of his station, neither can any tongue describe its splendour. For whosoever standeth firm and steadfast in this holy, this glorious, and exalted Revelation, such power shall be given him as to enable him to face and withstand all that is in heaven and on earth. Of this God is Himself a witness.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", section CLIV)


The difference is that in one, we are shouting our opinions to prove ourselves right. In the other, we are attempting to make clear the truth and are open to seeking truth we may have missed.

Baha'is would be quite mistaken to say that we aren't supposed to make rational arguments (i.e., argument as in reasoning used for persuasion, not as in fighting with words). I'll give several quotations here because I hope it may be enough to convince Baha'is otherwise of the need for us to study proofs and not shy away from teaching the Faith to those from other religions (or of no religion at all) who need these proofs. There are even more quotations on the subject than this, but here are a few.

“In this day there is nothing more important than the instruction and study of clear proofs and convincing, heavenly arguments, for therein lie the source of life and the path of salvation”

('Abdu’l-Bahá, The Importance of Deepening Our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith , p. 22)


“In this age peoples of the world need the arguments of reason”

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, Chapter 3)


“As that Light of Reality (Bahá’u’lláh) has set, all are in need of proofs of the truth of His claim”

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, Chapter 10)


"It is imperative to acquire the knowledge of divine proofs and evidences...This matter is highly important. It is binding on everyone and must be regarded as an obligation."

('Abdu’l-Bahá, from a newly translated Tablet, Pearls of Wisdom : The Importance of Deepening Our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith , p. 21)


“Every subject presented to a thoughtful audience must be supported by rational proofs and logical arguments.”

(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 253)


I'll try to get to your other question later.

best wishes,
Brett

Posted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 10:23 pm
by playexyshoola
Brett

Im sure you know that DEBATE is not an argument, ARGUMENTS are diffrent, Debates can be friendly and surely we must be able to debate about our faith with ppl of other religions...silence is a point of weakness...thats the part i dont undestand...

All quotes you have provided me are correct but they are all refering to arguments....not a friendly DEBARE.

asal

Posted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 11:16 pm
by brettz9
Hello Asal,

Look carefully at the rest of the quotations. The later quotations say that "arguments" can be good. In other words, there are two meanings to each of these words ("debate" and "argue")--each has a potentially good meaning and each has a bad meaning.

So, to summarize, we as Baha'is CAN participate in a friendly debate. Anybody who says we can't has not read the Writings carefully. You are right that silence in many cases would be a point of weakness.

(I personally hesitate to use the word "debate" because to me it implies that we are just trying to "win" and not at all trying to learn whereas the word "argument" is also used frequently (at least in writing) to refer simply to a logical series of statements meant to convince someone (e.g., sharing proofs on and reasoning for Baha'u'llah being the Promised One) and not necessarily in a one-sided way.)

all the best,
Brett

Posted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 11:24 pm
by brettz9
Here's one more quotation...

“If their [the believers’] task is to be confined to good conduct and advice, nothing will be accomplished. They must speak out, expound the proofs, set forth clear arguments, draw irrefutable conclusions establishing the truth of the manifestation of the Sun of Reality.”

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Individual and Teaching, no. 22)


Here it even says that by just having good behavior is not enough. We are SUPPOSED to "set forth clear arguments". Of course, others may respond back to us with their own questions or arguments, which we can then respond to also. What we are not supposed to do is to try to push our point of view, take things or make things personal, etc. But we definitely can---and MUST--be willing to speak.

This is a big mistaken understanding among many in the Baha'i community, and as you should be able to see from the quotations, it is not correct, so you are right to question it.

best wishes,
Brett

Posted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 11:37 pm
by Baha'i Warrior
Asal:

I don't know what made you think that (my last post in "my confusion"?) But 'Abdu'l-Baha tells us to learn the proofs and go use them to teach the Cause. Dialogue between members of other Faiths, including discourse using the proofs, is actually encouraged—as long as it doesn't turn into some heated argument.

Best,

Warrior

Re: Symbolic = Confusion????

Posted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 11:47 pm
by Baha'i Warrior
asal wrote:and also i really want to know why the word symbolic happens to be answer to everything.....


No, there are prophesies that are fulfilled literally (like those referring to the 12th imams age, height, etc.)

asal wrote:Most of the things that i read in the quran since i have started reserach in this forum, we explain them as being symbolic!!!


If by "we" you are referring to my discussion with Abbas (or at least if that inspired your post), keep in mind that we were discussing one or two specific things, it wasn't a survey of all the Baha'i proofs relating to the Koran.

asal wrote:We accept the quran and believe its a holy book...then how can we assume what allah is telling us in symple words are symbolic...eg. Heaven and Hell..


Because a physical heaven and hell in the next life wouldn't make any sense. The only material life we will live in is this one. If you assume that there is a hell, then there are many problems that come up. Isn't your flesh going to blacken to a point, and then be burnt to a crisp when you're burning in hell? Then how can you eternally burn in hell? Or maybe, does God give you some special cutaneous membrane (skin) for your soul so that it burns and senses the pain, but doesn't somehow completely become reduced to the skeleton...?

Warrior

Posted: Sat Nov 04, 2006 5:32 am
by choogue
What would be the highest "scholar" for the Bahai's? Is it members of the UHJ?
If so, it would be good to organise a debate between a UHJ member and a Sheikh. I love watching debates because you learn a lot and its a very good way to spread the faith aswell.

Dont know if you heard of a guy named Ahmed Deedat? He converted thousands of Christians to Islam after seeing him debating with the Christian ministries.

No, there are prophesies that are fulfilled literally (like those referring to the 12th imams age, height, etc.)


But wouldnt those prophesies be in the Muslim Hadith which Bahaullah denied Hadiths because they may be fabricated? Or he can decide which ones to use or not?

Because a physical heaven and hell in the next life wouldn't make any sense. The only material life we will live in is this one. If you assume that there is a hell, then there are many problems that come up. Isn't your flesh going to blacken to a point, and then be burnt to a crisp when you're burning in hell? Then how can you eternally burn in hell? Or maybe, does God give you some special cutaneous membrane (skin) for your soul so that it burns and senses the pain, but doesn't somehow completely become reduced to the skeleton...?


Did Allah not create us from earth? Can Allah not do anything? Can Allah not create something from nothing?

Your comments suggest that Allahs power is limited! (Astaghfirullah)
How can you not eternally burn in Hell? Allah is the ALL powerful! Allah is able to do anything. Only Allah, the Wise that can ever understand the next life. By you suggesting what would happen in Hell is impossible, you are therefore referring to Allah as limited. If he can create us from earth, can our skin not be re-created over and over under Allahs will?

Deny that and you deny the power of Allah(swt).

Is this the Bahai belief or just your personal belief? If it is a Bahai belief, it is obvious that your God is different than the Allah which Muslims submit to.

You say: "If you assume that there is a hell, then there are many problems that come up." Not if you believe that Allah is the Almighty and Most Powerful. Not if you believe Allah is capable of doing anything.

I hope that your suggestion that Allah is limited is just your personal opinion and not the Bahai teachings.

Regards
Abbas

Posted: Sat Nov 04, 2006 3:28 pm
by playexyshoola
abbas

One thing i know for sure is that its definately BW personal opinion when he denies the power of Allah...He is the almighty, the all wise, He is the creator and He can do as He wishes....

BW

How can you say If you assume there is a Hell.....It mentions it clearly in the Quran that there is...Are you questioning GOD????.....
Tell me were in Quran it mentions that its all SYMBOLIC?????....And find out for me where in the Bahai writing's it says its symbolic and WHY?...
I dont understand why we only accept SOME parts of the Quran...looks like we only use the parts that suits us...How can that be possible?....If be accept its a HOly book then we Accept everything that is in it....???

I though i might understand the answer to my questions better here...but im even more confused now..!!!!!!
Looks like PERSONAL opinions here are NOT usefull as they bring even more confusion......

asal

Posted: Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:53 pm
by choogue
Thanks Asal.

You dont have to answer this, but are you really Bahai?

The only reason i ask is because i feel you are negative in the Bahai teachings and im just wondering whether you were born as a Bahai and are only a follower rather than a believer or you were Muslim and converted to Bahai and now having doubts.

I dont mean to offend you in any way. Im just trying to understand since your way of thinking is different then other Bahais.

How can you say If you assume there is a Hell.....It mentions it clearly in the Quran that there is...Are you questioning GOD????.....


It mentions it clearly in the Quran as there is Hell but the Bahai teaching say its symbolic.

Tell me were in Quran it mentions that its all SYMBOLIC?????....And find out for me where in the Bahai writing's it says its symbolic and WHY?...


As a Bahai, have you read the teachings of Bahaullah? Because from what i understand, the symbolism is not the Bahais personal opinion but rather from Bahaullahs writings.

I dont understand why we only accept SOME parts of the Quran...looks like we only use the parts that suits us...How can that be possible?....If be accept its a HOly book then we Accept everything that is in it....???


The Bahais accept everything in it, but take certains things symbolic which was taught by your Prophet.

I though i might understand the answer to my questions better here...but im even more confused now..!!!!!!
Looks like PERSONAL opinions here are NOT usefull as they bring even more confusion......


Maybe you should read the Quran for yourself and see if you think its symbolic or not. If you do see the symbolism and it makes sense, then you believe in the Bahaullahs teachings. If not, then you obviously dont believe in his teachings.

Regards
Abbas

Posted: Sat Nov 04, 2006 8:33 pm
by playexyshoola
abbas

YES...i was born Bahai.....my whole family are bahai's and strong believers as well..specially my mum...but im a FOLLOWER...i dont think im a believer....if i was then i wouldnt questions the things i am questioning...it would have been all clear to me....i dont understand why it hard for some people to ACCEPT the truth....Not hide from it....

YES i do think a lot different to all the bahai's i know....and this started since i came in this forum and researched other religions....rather than getting closer to my religions i feel like im moving away from it...because no one wants to answer my questions properly...not even my mother...
God Forbid...she sees Bahaullah as GOD....??/?/

Just wish me luck....by the looks of it...i surely need it

asal

Posted: Sat Nov 04, 2006 10:27 pm
by brettz9
Before getting to the questions, I should say that some of us are busy and do not always have the energy to give fitting replies, or our replies are in fact inadequate (the scriptures are what you should be reading primarily to get an understanding of the Faith), so please have some patience. As our Writings state, it is a prerequisite for a "true seeker". ;) That being said, it is our privilege for any of us to be able to help in some way, if we can.

To try to answer the original question about symbolism...

There are many reasons why God has made the Scriptures at least partly symbolic:

1) To test human beings.
2) It is enjoyable for us.
3) In unraveling the symbols, it can be more effective in instructing us in this poetic way.
3) It does not contradict science or logic--methods of understanding He also gave to us to discover reality

The above reasons are all in our Writings and I can provide quotations for you if you wish.

There are also proofs, internal to the Scriptures (Bible or Qur'an) that show that these books are also intended to be (and must be) symbolic.

The holiness of Scriptures such as the Qur'an does not mean we must take everything literally. On the contrary, holiness implies a transcendence beyond the mundane. Of course, God may reveal laws dealing with the mundane in order to elevate these daily actions. And by taking some things as symbolic, does not mean that we have any right to try to dismiss God's clear physical laws (such as fasting, chastity, etc.) as symbolic. Baha'u'llah rejects this. But seeing elements as symbolic (or physical and symbolic) does not dismiss the Qur'an, it elevates it; we accept everything in it.

Does it really honor a text to say that we interpret everything in it literally?
If a poet says "my love is a flower", must we insist that he must mean that he is in love with a flower?

If we can recognize that poets will use symbolism (and the scriptures are, as the Qur'an states, no mere poetry), why is it that we think God cannot do this? Is He, God forbid, intellectually limited that He cannot use symbolism for our instruction?

Yes, God revealed the scriptures for everyone, but everyone is capable of understanding symbolism. In fact, common people can often understand something better through symbolism than if a rationalized answer is given to them.

As far as heaven and hell, although on the one hand, they are symbolic of our closeness or remoteness from God, they are also very real conditions, in the afterlife, as well as on earth. The Baha'i Writings, in clear language, state that those who reject God will face regret in the next world, and those who draw near to Him in this world will be rewarded in the next world.

If we are talking about a spiritual world, "fire" cannot be a physical thing--such as requires oxygen, and so on. This does not mean, because it must be a symbol, that it is not a symbol of something very real and terrible and powerful.

Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha, and Shoghi Effendi referred at great length to the benefits (and necessity) to society of a belief in future rewards and punishments. Sometimes Baha'is go too far to minimize this, so that may be the source of your confusion--they maybe do this because we are supposed to try to do good for the sake of the love of God rather than for the external reasons of reward or punishment--but nevertheless, our Writings state they are quite real.

In God's Unconstrained Magnificence, He reveals Scriptures with a layer of many meanings, some literal, some symbolic, and many a combination thereof.

For example, the most important doctrinal work of Baha'u'llah, the Kitab-i-Iqan, indicates that some prophecies are also fulfilled literally (in a sense at least) as well as spiritually. He describes how the 'stars falling from the sky' promised in the Scriptures literally occurred (as a meteor shower at the time of the coming of the Promised One (this is only literal to a degree since meteors are not real stars, but real stars cannot literally in their entirety "fall" onto the earth anyway, so the scriptures must be symbolic)). He also states it has a symbolic meaning such as the changing of the laws or the declining condition of the divines of the former religion.

As far as eternally burning in hell, yes the Scriptures do discuss this. We interpret this, however, again symbolically. "Eternally" can be a figure of speech to emphasize a very long duration. Although we may suppose that the "real" interpretation is to be as strict as possible, in believing that this upholds the sovereignty of God, but one can also argue that this interpretation denies the mercy of God. Of course, who is to say which is right, besides God's Prophet? And that is the ultimate point: the interpretation is for God alone--through His Prophet. The Baha'i Writings (and the Qur'an) state that God cannot incarnate. Does this limit the power of God, or does it exalt Him? Since we accept His Prophet (or follow His logic), we realize that stating that He cannot incarnate exalts Him. Now that His Prophet, in Baha'u'llah, has explained Heaven and Hell in more detail for humanity, we ought to embrace it unhesitatingly. If we apply the same standard for accepting the Qur'an or Bible to the Baha'i Writings, we certainly could not find the latter lacking, let alone the growing effects of His Revelation.

In an (as yet?) unauthenticated text I recall reading from 'Abdu'l-Baha (I don't have access to the papers which may have stated this--I think they were in the Barstow collection of texts), 'Abdu'l-Baha was to have stated that the reference in the Qur'an to the repeated boiling of skins was referring to the recurrence of doubts among the unbelievers--the skins were like the doubts that even if peeled off, would be replaced again.

If this reference was in fact authentic, does this mean that the afterlife will not also have severe suffering for those who chose evil in this world, or that we should assume the meaning is only symbolic (and thus deprive ourselves of the motivation to do good that a belief in the afterlife can provide)? No, but does the above interpretation add a fresh, enlightened understanding of the text? Yes, I certainly think so. Does a lack of a corporeal understanding confirm better with science? Absolutely. The Text is a living document and is not so circumscribed as our narrow minds may be tempted to confine it. Or, as the Qur'an states, "Far from the glory of thy Lord, the All-Glorious, be that which His creatures affirm of Him..."

As far as Hadith, I think there has been a misunderstanding here. Baha'u'llah did not deny Hadith. He used them on occasion. And, as I believe you (Abbas) may have pointed out in another thread, the provisions of the Qur'an could not have been implemented without Hadith. What Baha'u'llah has done in this age is to reject their authoritativeness and insist in this new age that only the written (or officially transcribed) word (including that of His authorized interpreters and elucidators) have any weight. We still refer to these "pilgrim's notes", but not for authoritative guidance. Baha'u'llah was to have stated these (all Hadith being treated authoritatively) caused much suffering for humanity.

And, yes, since God can do as He wills, He can decide which Hadith of the past--if any--to confirm or not. If He made no mention of the past, He is still unconstrained and none have the right to question. But, as He is merciful, He makes reference to them.

As far as the highest scholar in the Faith, there is no such individual alive today. The members of the House of Justice are elected administrators, and while some of them may be great teachers as well, this is not necessarily the case. The House of Justice does appoint individuals who have achieved prominence in the teaching work to assist Baha'i communities and individuals (at the highest level today called Counselors), but teaching can take a variety of forms, so these individuals might also not necessarily be always ideal public scholarly debaters (though it may be more likely to find scholars among this "learned" branch of the Faith). Our representative institutions might chose some individual to represent the Baha'i Faith in interfaith dialogues, but there is no one alive today who could be considered as a perfect scholar (and therefore, although Baha'is might participate in a friendly debate, we would not weigh the perceived outcome as being definitive of the truth).

Asal (if that is your real name), if a Baha'i actually believes Baha'u'llah is God literally, then he is, according to our own writings, committing blasphemy. You would be right to question your mother if she actually believes that. Although the ultimate choice of the Faith is a personal one, questioning one's beliefs does not mean one is necessarily inclined against the Faith; on the contrary, it may be preparing them to explore and understand it more deeply.

best wishes,
Brett

Posted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 5:45 am
by choogue
The holiness of Scriptures such as the Qur'an does not mean we must take everything literally. On the contrary, holiness implies a transcendence beyond the mundane. Of course, God may reveal laws dealing with the mundane in order to elevate these daily actions. And by taking some things as symbolic, does not mean that we have any right to try to dismiss God's clear physical laws (such as fasting, chastity, etc.) as symbolic. Baha'u'llah rejects this. But seeing elements as symbolic (or physical and symbolic) does not dismiss the Qur'an, it elevates it; we accept everything in it.


Asal, Brettz9 is correct. Not everything in the Quran must be taken literally.

I dont know if you have heard about Hadith, but these are the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad(a.s) and He explains the interpretations of the Quran.

When reading the Quran, you should be able to determine when things are not literal. For example the verse "He it is Who sends His blessings on you, and (so do) His angels, that He may bring you forth out of utter darkness into the light; and He is Merciful to the believers." does not literally mean Allah will take us out of the dark and place us into the light. To the reader, this obviously means Allah may bring us away from the wrong way and onto the right way.

So as Brettz9 is basically saying, it is pretty simple to determine what is symbolic and what is not. Ofcourse though, people can sometimes take something as literal which is symbolic and vice-versa. This is why its very important to refer to Prophet Muhammads(a.s) teachings.

If we are talking about a spiritual world, "fire" cannot be a physical thing--such as requires oxygen, and so on. This does not mean, because it must be a symbol, that it is not a symbol of something very real and terrible and powerful.


Brettz9, as you mention further down the line, 'And, yes, since God can do as He wills" this is the same with Hell. Therefore it doesnt have to be a symbol. If Allahs wills, it shall be.

In an (as yet?) unauthenticated text I recall reading from 'Abdu'l-Baha


Off topic - When you mention "unauthenticated text', does it mean there are books which need to be confirmed as true writings from successors? So has there been books ruled out as not authentic?

As far as Hadith, I think there has been a misunderstanding here. Baha'u'llah did not deny Hadith. He used them on occasion.


That means Bahaullah must of believed in ALL the authentic Hadith initially, right? Even the ones where the verses in the Quran were explained by the Prophet Muhammed(a.s). Bahuallah then rejected only their authoritative guidance, but the interpretations of verses would then still be applicable? So if the interpretations of Hadith was not rejected, then technically there should be no contradications between Bahuallah and the teachings of the Prophet.

As far as the highest scholar in the Faith, there is no such individual alive today. The members of the House of Justice are elected administrators, and while some of them may be great teachers as well, this is not necessarily the case. The House of Justice does appoint individuals who have achieved prominence in the teaching work to assist Baha'i communities and individuals (at the highest level today called Counselors), but teaching can take a variety of forms, so these individuals might also not necessarily be always ideal public scholarly debaters


So to be elected in the UHJ, someone does not necessarily need to know every detail of the Bahai Faith? If they do need to know, then obviously they would be the best candidate for a debate. Not with a Ulama, but just a Sheikh.

Asal,
God Forbid...she sees Bahaullah as GOD....??/?/

Prove to your Mum that he is not God. Ask her why she believes it and then explain it to her.

Just wish me luck....by the looks of it...i surely need it


Goodluck Asal. If you need any information about Islam and Bahai, im sure we are all happy to assist.

Regards
Abbas

Posted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 3:27 pm
by Baha'i Warrior
abbas wrote:
Because a physical heaven and hell in the next life wouldn't make any sense. The only material life we will live in is this one. If you assume that there is a hell, then there are many problems that come up. Isn't your flesh going to blacken to a point, and then be burnt to a crisp when you're burning in hell? Then how can you eternally burn in hell? Or maybe, does God give you some special cutaneous membrane (skin) for your soul so that it burns and senses the pain, but doesn't somehow completely become reduced to the skeleton...?


Did Allah not create us from earth?


Yes.

abbas wrote:Can Allah not do anything?


No.

abbas wrote:Can Allah not create something from nothing?


Surely.

abbas wrote:Your comments suggest that Allahs power is limited! (Astaghfirullah)


That's news to me.

abbas wrote:How can you not eternally burn in Hell? Allah is the ALL powerful! Allah is able to do anything. Only Allah, the Wise that can ever understand the next life. By you suggesting what would happen in Hell is impossible, you are therefore referring to Allah as limited. If he can create us from earth, can our skin not be re-created over and over under Allahs will?


I didn't have time to read Brett's full reply, though I have no question that is was a more than insightful response, and true the Baha'i belief.

Let me put it this way. Does the Bible talk about a physical heaven and hell? Now ask yourself, can some of what the Bible says be taken symbolically? (I assume your answer here is also yes since you said so of the Koran.)

Okay, now is it possible that indeed heaven and hell are both to be take figuratively? According to the Bibe, heaven and hell should, indeed have to be taken symbolically:

"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." (1Cr 15:50)

Notice the implication of this verse! Flesh is being equated with corruption—that is, flesh, in comparison to the world of spirit, is corrupt, useless, nothingness, and its place is not in the Kingdom of God. Only is it in this sinful, transient, material realm which is characterized by imperfection; that is, the flesh is characterized by imperfection. The verse clearly states that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God," and despite this, there is an overemphasis of a physical heaven and hell by Christians! WHY is it this way? Because many of them don't read their Bibles, and like sheep ingest all the interpretations given to them by their clergymen. Same with Muslims—many don't read the Koran but are nevertheless passionately attached to "their" beliefs, which were actually fed to them by their clergy. Had many Muslims, for example, read the Koran by themselves (or Bible for Christians)—without any preconceived notions—they would have readily seen the absurdity in God causing stars, the moon, etc. falling down from the sky. Baha'u'llah points to this absurdity in the Koran in His attempt to demonstrate the vast symbolic imagery used in the Koran. So, yes, God can do anything He wants. But weren't we humans given the capacity by God to reason also, and further, look deeper into our Scriptures to see for ourselves whether it makes sense for God to work in certain ways? To just insist that God can do whatever He wants (which is obvious as God is defined by this omnipotence) can close off a lot of minds into looking deeper into certain important issues, and can cause men to miss the real Prophets or follow the impostures. (Many Christians I know place a lot of emphasis on false prophets—and not enough emphasis on investigating the claims of potentially true prophets.)

Can God do whatever He wants? Well, what does He want? In the context of "spiritual laws," the holy Koran itself states:

Rodwell translation: "Such hath been the way of God with those who lived before them; and no change canst thou find in the way of God." (33:62)

Yusuf Ali translation: "(Such was) the practice (approved) of Allah among those who lived aforetime: No change wilt thou find in the practice (approved) of Allah."

Like many other Suras, Muhammad keeps warning the Muslims that they will act like their forefathers in regards to religion, and that God—despite the ways that men think based on the scriptures that He will act—is independent of men's interpretations. The verse tells us that "no change canst thou find in the way of God," in other words, God has set certain physical and spiritual laws, and He will always act according to them. (By the way, whether or not you believe in the Bible is beside the point as I was just using the verse as an illustration.) If one insists that God can do whatever He wants, then one is completely missing the point, since God Himself says that He will act and reveal just as He has done in the past; He will not change His spiritual laws. Why have men as a whole always missed the Prophet when He came to them? Ask yourself, why doesn't God make it easy? Can't God make it obvious as He is the All-Powerful? Then why hasn't He made it obvious in the past? What proof do Muslims have that they are better men than the ones that came before them—that they will instantly recognize God's Manifestation when He appears? As Baha'is, we don't even think we are better than others, just because we believe in the latest Manifestation. In fact, there are many Baha'is who are spiritually worse off than say, a Zoroastrian or an atheist.

If one cannot learn from the stories in the Koran, then he will not find the truth. Sure, the Koran urges Muslims to be steadfast. But not steadfast in a Faith that has been replaced by a new one. If God sends a new Prophet, then you should be steadfast in His Faith, because that is God's intended Faith for the Day in which it was revealed.

abbas wrote:Deny that and you deny the power of Allah(swt).


As I have shown, it is indeed limiting to assert that God will make the next life material! In saying so, one is saying that God will fashion the next life imperfectly, that is, materially. And it indeed not within the capacity of God to err, as I am sure you will agree! Sin and imperfection do not exist in the next life; the next life is characterized only by spiritual advancement (becoming closer to God)—according to the Baha'i belief.

abbas wrote:Is this the Bahai belief or just your personal belief? If it is a Bahai belief, it is obvious that your God is different than the Allah which Muslims submit to.


It may have been stated more eloquently :). But again, Baha'is do not believe God is limited in making the next life material, imperfect. They see that the only way that one can describe to men something spiritual—which we can't understand because we are constrained by the material world—is through analogy.

Analogy (Remember the SATs? :wink:) have been useful ever since the man's existence. It helps us learn morals (Aesop), scientific truths, etc. Sorry to use a crude example, but can an adult teach a very young child about sex? No, it is not within the child's capacity. So they have to tell him about a stork, and eventually, when the child gets older, he learns about it at school or wherever it might be (when he has gained the capacity). But we do give him an answer that he cannot understand. In the same way, the prophets can't tell us about spiritual things in the next life which our material minds are unable to grasp (since they are spiritual and can't be relayed to us via language which is limited), so they compare these spiritual states in the next life to fire and blissful joy, things we can understand. What man can't understand beautiful damsels? :)

abbas wrote:I hope that your suggestion that Allah is limited is just your personal opinion and not the Bahai teachings.


Again, as I have demostrated, it is limiting to say that the next life is material, or not wholly spiritual.

Abbas, I really have to commend you on your insteresting questions and enthusiasm regarding religion. Someone like you who is interested in spirituality is indeed in the minority, and your devotion to religion should be praised. I can see you are much more mature than many (probably the majority) of 18 year olds, and even more mature than many 70 year olds who have lived their lives in ignorance and in pursuit of their carnal desires. But we believe in God, and through that we are constantly trying to learn more about our selves, that is, our true, spiritual selves—not our physical, imperfect bodies which will turn to dust and never live on.

I always enjoy your posts, and look forward to your insightful responses.

Best regards,

Warrior

Posted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 9:33 pm
by choogue
Let me put it this way. Does the Bible talk about a physical heaven and hell? Now ask yourself, can some of what the Bible says be taken symbolically? (I assume your answer here is also yes since you said so of the Koran.)


Yes ofcourse some of what the Bible says should be taken symbolically. The symbolism in both the Bible and Quran are obvious to the reader since Allah does not intend to confuse us.

"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."

Notice the implication of this verse! Flesh is being equated with corruption—that is, flesh, in comparison to the world of spirit, is corrupt, useless, nothingness, and its place is not in the Kingdom of God.


I guess it is to an individuals interpretation that flesh is being equated with corruption, but it states that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdon of God. Maybe so. However not with Hell, but only the Kingdom of God.

Same with Muslims—many don't read the Koran but are nevertheless passionately attached to "their" beliefs, which were actually fed to them by their clergy


Muslims are attached to their beliefs because they read the Quran straight forward and are able to simply determine what is symbolism and what is not. It is obvious to the reader when Allah is using symbolism. It is not here to confuse us.

But weren't we humans given the capacity by God to reason also, and further, look deeper into our Scriptures to see for ourselves whether it makes sense for God to work in certain ways? To just insist that God can do whatever He wants (which is obvious as God is defined by this omnipotence) can close off a lot of minds into looking deeper into certain important issues, and can cause men to miss the real Prophets or follow the impostures.


Thats correct. We cannot just insist that God can do whatever He wants. This is why the Quran is clear with the use of symbolism and literal verses. If it is not clear, than anything mentioned in the Quran can be interpreted as one wants, therfore following the impostures. Say for example that it mentions a dog in the Quran and this dog was barking. People can take this as symbolism. Dog=Future Prophet and the Barking = his message. (sorry for the pathetic example, i just couldnt think of anything else)
If one desires, they may take this as symbolism and interpret it the way it suits them. Is it not possible?
This is why people thoroughly investigate the Quran and Hadiths to avoid misinterpretation.

"(Such was) the practice (approved) of Allah among those who lived aforetime: No change wilt thou find in the practice (approved) of Allah."
quote]

Correct. The same belief as the previous scriptures. The Muslims agree to this to some extent since previous scriptures have been amended by Men. Just as the previous scriptures talk about the resseruction - 1Cr 15:12 ¶ Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? Muslims believe in the resurrection.

If one insists that God can do whatever He wants, then one is completely missing the point, since God Himself says that He will act and reveal just as He has done in the past;


God can do whatever He pleases now and in the afterlife. He will not change what He has revealed as stated in the Quran, therefore Hell and Heaven are not symbolic since it is stated in the Quran and the previous scriptures. Just as the resurrection/Judgement Day.

Ask yourself, why doesn't God make it easy? Can't God make it obvious as He is the All-Powerful? Then why hasn't He made it obvious in the past?


It has been made clear. The symbolism is made obvious and the teachings of the Prophet assist us when interpreting the Quran, because anyone can take things symbolic if they choose and anyone can take things literal if they choose.

What proof do Muslims have that they are better men than the ones that came before them—that they will instantly recognize God's Manifestation when He appears?


Why would you think Muslims think they are better than other men before them? Muslims arent waiting for God's Manifestation. They are waiting for the return of Imam Mahdi and Jesus.

If one cannot learn from the stories in the Koran, then he will not find the truth. Sure, the Koran urges Muslims to be steadfast. But not steadfast in a Faith that has been replaced by a new one. If God sends a new Prophet, then you should be steadfast in His Faith, because that is God's intended Faith for the Day in which it was revealed.


Yes if Allah sends a new prophet, obviously we need to be steadfast in his faith. Just as the previous scriptures were continuous revelations.

As I have shown, it is indeed limiting to assert that God will make the next life material! In saying so, one is saying that God will fashion the next life imperfectly, that is, materially. And it indeed not within the capacity of God to err, as I am sure you will agree! Sin and imperfection do not exist in the next life; the next life is characterized only by spiritual advancement (becoming closer to God)—according to the Baha'i belief.


Maybe so in terms of the Kingdom of Allah but not Hell. But even if one says that we are a material form in Heaven does not mean we are imperfect. In this life, its not our bodies that are imperfect but rather our souls. We are a creation of Allah therefore we are perfect, but since Allah has given us free will, our souls can be corrupted.

Thats correct, sin and imperfection do not exist in the next life. So if someone is in Hell in a material form, does not indicate imperfection nor sin. The person in Hell will be punished. If the person is in Heaven, it does not indicate imperfection either if he is in material form because Allah created our bodies therefore we are not imperfect. (Im not saying that we ARE in material form in Heaven. Honestly, i dont know whether we are or not since i havent came across that yet, but i cant see why its not possible) I have to do more research regarding Heaven. All i know is that we can not comprehend what it will be like.

I dont believe being material is imperferct. There is nothing to suggest that. Maybe im wrong, but i havent seen anything to indicate being in a material form or anything material is imperfect. Our choices are imperfect.

(Remember the SATs? )
:? Whats that?

In the same way, the prophets can't tell us about spiritual things in the next life which our material minds are unable to grasp (since they are spiritual and can't be relayed to us via language which is limited), so they compare these spiritual states in the next life to fire and blissful joy, things we can understand. What man can't understand beautiful damsels?


I agree since the Quran mentions that we cannot comprehend Heaven and therefore the use of analogy is required. But it doesnt mean that Heaven and Hell doesnt literally exist as a place.

Hell is mentioned so many times in the Quran. I find it hard to believe that it is symbolic. Burning of the flesh, blazing fire, etc. Analogy works to a certain extent before it seems to be a lie. What i mean is that, all the descriptions of Hell indicate that is a place of fire, otherwise it would have been mentioned to the people that it is symbolic, since now the explanation of symbolism seems everything was a lie. If it is symbolic, it would have indicated it in the Quran but there is no indication whatsoever. Just like you said Allah does not change the religion. But believing it is symbolic, is a complete change since there is no indication in the Quran that it is.

People can argue that mankind at that time would not understand. But it would have made more sense and more believable if the Prophet told them that they will be closer to God or more away from God. It wouldnt constantly mention the punishment in Hell if that was so.

This again comes down to interpretation. I need to understand Heaven and Hell better myself, which i will need to refer to the Prophet Muhammads(a.s) teachings of them.

Abbas, I really have to commend you on your insteresting questions and enthusiasm regarding religion. Someone like you who is interested in spirituality is indeed in the minority, and your devotion to religion should be praised. I can see you are much more mature than many (probably the majority) of 18 year olds, and even more mature than many 70 year olds who have lived their lives in ignorance and in pursuit of their carnal desires. But we believe in God, and through that we are constantly trying to learn more about our selves, that is, our true, spiritual selves—not our physical, imperfect bodies which will turn to dust and never live on.

I always enjoy your posts, and look forward to your insightful responses.


Thanks BW. Your assistance is always appreciated, whether we agree or not. ;)

You are also devoted to religion and full of knowledge which i am happy to continue researching with your assistance. Your a great man. :)

As always, i look forward to your response.

Regards
Abbas

Posted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 12:33 am
by Baha'i Warrior
abbas wrote:
Let me put it this way. Does the Bible talk about a physical heaven and hell? Now ask yourself, can some of what the Bible says be taken symbolically? (I assume your answer here is also yes since you said so of the Koran.)


Yes ofcourse some of what the Bible says should be taken symbolically. The symbolism in both the Bible and Quran are obvious to the reader since Allah does not intend to confuse us.


True, God doesn't "intend to confuse us." But what do you say then to the fact that since the inauguration of God's correspondence with man via His Messengers, men have always been confused as to what their holy Texts say, and thus were divided? If you Shia's and Sunnis (and all other offshoots of Islam) saw eye to eye on every issue (which you most certainly don't), and every Koranic verse's meaning was obvious to the reader, then why the divisions? Because, much contrary to your assertion, "the symbolism in both the Bible and Quran" aren't obvious to the reader! Any person who studies religion, or even anyone who has had a very limited scope of knowledge on the subject readily will admit that men always are confused as to the intended meaning of sacred verses, be it of the Bible or of the Koran. This is a truth that cannot be falsified.

Just look at all the sects of Christianity! Thousands of registered ones in the U.S. alone! Many of these people despise each other (one sect holds contempt for the other) because they see themselves as different people, even though they are all Christians. Why did they break off into sects you may ask? Ultimately because of differeing beliefs and interpretations regarding Christianity and the text of the Bible. Now, do you still believe that God's words are obvious to everyone? When hundreds of millions of people within the same religion can't agree on what the Word of God says? You may think what you are reading is crystal clear and that there is only one corresponding "obvious" meaning (the interpretation that you have assigned to it) assigned to each verse, but so do all these other millions of people—many of whom are more confident and unwavering in their convictions that their beliefs are the absolute true beliefs—and everyone else is thus wrong—than you.

abbas wrote:
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."

Notice the implication of this verse! Flesh is being equated with corruption—that is, flesh, in comparison to the world of spirit, is corrupt, useless, nothingness, and its place is not in the Kingdom of God.


I guess it is to an individuals interpretation that flesh is being equated with corruption, but it states that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdon of God. Maybe so. However not with Hell, but only the Kingdom of God.


No, it is not open to interpretation. If some Christian says this, then he is only fooling himself. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" is a fancy way of saying, the Kingdom of God is not bound by material constraints. It is therefore characterized as a spiritual existence. Abbas: who is you? Your body, or the soul that animates your body? The world seems so real, but it is merely an illusion as Baha'u'llah points out. You think it's real, but what is real is what endures. Your body will decompose and eventually be converted to dust, so your body itself is not significant. But, the significant part about your body is that it's a vehicle for your soul in this mortal existence.

abbas wrote:
Same with Muslims—many don't read the Koran but are nevertheless passionately attached to "their" beliefs, which were actually fed to them by their clergy


Muslims are attached to their beliefs because they read the Quran straight forward and are able to simply determine what is symbolism and what is not. It is obvious to the reader when Allah is using symbolism. It is not here to confuse us.


Again, I agree the Koran isn't meant to confuse. But when people become attached to world, including those people who call themselves "Christians" or "Muslims" yet are heedless of their Book's teachings, they tend to follow their own lusts and sometimes do it in the name of God, or religon. There are so many different types of Muslims: moderates, conservatives, extremists, etc...; obviously you all don't interpret the Koran the same, and how it should be applied to everyday life. For example, do you sympathize and agree with extremist Muslims who set off bombs, killing little children and women—unleashing their "jihad" on their helpless, pathetic vicitims? They think that they are "defending themselves" and Islam by killing harmless victims and that this "jihad" of theirs is in fact their prerogative and duty. Now, I know this is rhetorical and surely you don't agree with what they do in the name of Islam, but I use this to illustrate the point that within religions there have always been believers who (1) have interpreted their Texts rather laxly, and, in contrast, there have been (2) those who assign a very narrow interpretation, one in which suits their perverted worldy needs. And then (3) there are those in-between. [Such perversion of the texts in order to follow one's lusts certainly looks less harmless since if it is supposedly done in the name of God. (As if everything done "in the name of God" is accepted by God.)]

abbas wrote:
But weren't we humans given the capacity by God to reason also, and further, look deeper into our Scriptures to see for ourselves whether it makes sense for God to work in certain ways? To just insist that God can do whatever He wants (which is obvious as God is defined by this omnipotence) can close off a lot of minds into looking deeper into certain important issues, and can cause men to miss the real Prophets or follow the impostures.


Thats correct. We cannot just insist that God can do whatever He wants. This is why the Quran is clear with the use of symbolism and literal verses. If it is not clear, than anything mentioned in the Quran can be interpreted as one wants, therfore following the impostures. Say for example that it mentions a dog in the Quran and this dog was barking. People can take this as symbolism. Dog=Future Prophet and the Barking = his message. (sorry for the pathetic example, i just couldnt think of anything else)
If one desires, they may take this as symbolism and interpret it the way it suits them. Is it not possible?
This is why people thoroughly investigate the Quran and Hadiths to avoid misinterpretation.


Again, a dog can be symbolic, or it can be literal—but it is not always obvious to the reader, since as I have demonstrated from time immomorial people have interpreted many "obvious" texts in differing ways.

So anything can be figurative or literal, but to know, you have to take into account the context. You are still reading the Iqan I take it. :?: Baha'u'llah very masterfully explains the true meaning of some Koranic imagry such as the stars, moon, etc., used in the Koran, and what it means when they fall, and so on. It is absurd according to Baha'u'llah that God would actually allow the stars and the moon to fall from the sky (what's the point?). Thus one looks at the deeper meaning to get beyond what would otherwise be preposterous if interpreted literally.

If religious texts didn't have any deeper meanings that could be uncovered and expounded on, then we wouldn't had/have scholars/philosophers who uncover deeper truths from the verses. That is, if laymen could all just as easily and equally see the true meaning of every single verse, then there wouldn't have been any need for the Muslim scholars/philosophers, who contributed immensely to Islam.

abbas wrote:
"(Such was) the practice (approved) of Allah among those who lived aforetime: No change wilt thou find in the practice (approved) of Allah."
quote]

Correct. The same belief as the previous scriptures. The Muslims agree to this to some extent since previous scriptures have been amended by Men. Just as the previous scriptures talk about the resseruction - 1Cr 15:12 ¶ Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? Muslims believe in the resurrection.


Here is a quote from the Iqan that discusses the symbolic meaning of words such as "resurrection," which might answer your question:

    In every age and century, the purpose of the Prophets of God and their chosen ones hath been no other but to affirm the spiritual significance of the terms "life," "resurrection," and "judgment." ... Wert thou to attain to but a dewdrop of the crystal waters of divine knowledge, thou wouldst readily realize that true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit. For the life of the flesh is common to both men and animals, whereas the life of the spirit is possessed only by the pure in heart who have quaffed from the ocean of faith and partaken of the fruit of certitude. This life knoweth no death, and this existence is crowned by immortality. Even as it hath been said: "He who is a true believer liveth both in this world and in the world to come." If by "life" be meant this earthly life, it is evident that death must needs overtake it.

abbas wrote:
If one insists that God can do whatever He wants, then one is completely missing the point, since God Himself says that He will act and reveal just as He has done in the past;


God can do whatever He pleases now and in the afterlife. He will not change what He has revealed as stated in the Quran, therefore Hell and Heaven are not symbolic since it is stated in the Quran and the previous scriptures. Just as the resurrection/Judgement Day.


Read the Iqan all the way through, and it will help you get a better appreciation for the Baha'i position. My posts are only mere opinions based on my very limited knowledge of the Writings (though I try to be accurate), and don't compare at all to the mastery of the Baha'i texts, especially Baha'u'llah's eloquent expounding on the Koran. Maybe after you read it, give us your critique of the Iqan?

abbas wrote:
Ask yourself, why doesn't God make it easy? Can't God make it obvious as He is the All-Powerful? Then why hasn't He made it obvious in the past?


It has been made clear. The symbolism is made obvious and the teachings of the Prophet assist us when interpreting the Quran, because anyone can take things symbolic if they choose and anyone can take things literal if they choose.


Yeah. But only the ones that correctly pick which verses are symbolic and which ones are literal will arive at the truth. It is not some sort of relativistic thing, where whatever you (or a group) pick and choose to be symbolic/literal is really the true interpretation. You have to admit that you could be wrong in how you are interpreting your verses, just as we Baha'is can be. You can't just say others "can pick and choose" but not also apply this to yourself.

abbas wrote:
What proof do Muslims have that they are better men than the ones that came before them—that they will instantly recognize God's Manifestation when He appears?


Why would you think Muslims think they are better than other men before them? Muslims arent waiting for God's Manifestation. They are waiting for the return of Imam Mahdi and Jesus.


And they have returned. Forget that I even mentioned the word "Manifestation." The 12th Imam has returned in the person of the Bab, Imam Husayn (3rd Imam) Baha'u'llah, and Baha'u'llah is also the return of Christ.

abbas wrote:
If one cannot learn from the stories in the Koran, then he will not find the truth. Sure, the Koran urges Muslims to be steadfast. But not steadfast in a Faith that has been replaced by a new one. If God sends a new Prophet, then you should be steadfast in His Faith, because that is God's intended Faith for the Day in which it was revealed.


Yes if Allah sends a new prophet, obviously we need to be steadfast in his faith. Just as the previous scriptures were continuous revelations.


Agreed.

abbas wrote:
As I have shown, it is indeed limiting to assert that God will make the next life material! In saying so, one is saying that God will fashion the next life imperfectly, that is, materially. And it indeed not within the capacity of God to err, as I am sure you will agree! Sin and imperfection do not exist in the next life; the next life is characterized only by spiritual advancement (becoming closer to God)—according to the Baha'i belief.


Maybe so in terms of the Kingdom of Allah but not Hell. But even if one says that we are a material form in Heaven does not mean we are imperfect. In this life, its not our bodies that are imperfect but rather our souls. We are a creation of Allah therefore we are perfect, but since Allah has given us free will, our souls can be corrupted.


No, other way around. Our souls are perfect since they are the ones that progress in the next life, the ones that return to God. When man turns to his animal nature, and in doing so shuts off the connection to his spiritual nature, then it is made obvious in this case that his material form is the one that is imperfect, not his spiritual form.

Flesh (man) is imperfect because it can act imperfectly due to free will (free will can can cause man to err and sin). Whereas in the world of spirit, regression is not possible since the next world is characterized only by progression, not regression, as the Baha'i writings teach. (Regression, or more generally imperfection, are only characteristics of a material world.)

Posted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 2:56 am
by choogue
BW,

But what do you say then to the fact that since the inauguration of God's correspondence with man via His Messengers, men have always been confused as to what their holy Texts say, and thus were divided? If you Shia's and Sunnis (and all other offshoots of Islam) saw eye to eye on every issue (which you most certainly don't), and every Koranic verse's meaning was obvious to the reader, then why the divisions?


Thats correct, which is why we should rely on the Prophets teachings. The division of Sunni and Shia is not due to the interpretation of the Quran. Abu Bakr claimed to be the successor, whilst Imam Ali (a.s) claimed the title. This doesnt have anything to do with the interpretations of the Quran.
It is inevitable that man will have their own ideas in every religion. Just as Bahais have their sects where someone decided that the UHJ is not meant to be. Although you may call them covenant breakers, they still exist and have interpreted Bahaullahs writing differently. Just because the UHJ classifies them as covenant breakers doesnt mean they believe they are not their. Its just as if Shia say we are the correct Muslims and the rest are covenant breakers. Nevertheless, the other sects still exist.
Also, remember we are talking about 1400 years compared to 150years. The covenant breakers will continue as it is inevitable that men will continue to have their own ideas and interpretations.

Correct me if im wrong but didnt the Bahai religion came from the Shaykhi sect of Shia?

Because, much contrary to your assertion, "the symbolism in both the Bible and Quran" aren't obvious to the reader! Any person who studies religion, or even anyone who has had a very limited scope of knowledge on the subject readily will admit that men always are confused as to the intended meaning of sacred verses, be it of the Bible or of the Koran. This is a truth that cannot be falsified.


They are obvious but can be misinterpreted to suit someones needs, therefore the Prophet taught the Quran to His people.

Men may get confused with some verses but not necessarily with the symbolic nature of it. If it explains that Allah does not have a body and then later on it tells us that Allah will fold the Heavens with His Hands, it is obvious that this is symbolic. The Quran is a miracle in itself and therefore a person can determine what is symbolic or not.

Just look at all the sects of Christianity! Thousands of registered ones in the U.S. alone! Many of these people despise each other (one sect holds contempt for the other) because they see themselves as different people, even though they are all Christians. Why did they break off into sects you may ask? Ultimately because of differeing beliefs and interpretations regarding Christianity and the text of the Bible. Now, do you still believe that God's words are obvious to everyone?


Again, its individuals making up their own beliefs to suit their needs. Christianity is almost man made since so many bibles have been produced with text missing or new verses added. So ofcourse as soon as someone will manipulate the text to suit them and produce different "versions" of the bible, sects are bound to grow.

The words of Allah are obvious to anyone with the right intentions. Obvious to someone who does not want to interpret things to suit themselves.

No, it is not open to interpretation. If some Christian says this, then he is only fooling himself. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" is a fancy way of saying, the Kingdom of God is not bound by material constraints. It is therefore characterized as a spiritual existence. Abbas: who is you? Your body, or the soul that animates your body? The world seems so real, but it is merely an illusion as Baha'u'llah points out. You think it's real, but what is real is what endures. Your body will decompose and eventually be converted to dust, so your body itself is not significant. But, the significant part about your body is that it's a vehicle for your soul in this mortal existence.


If its not open to interpretation, then neither is: 1Cr 15:12 ¶ Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But yet you claim the resurrection to be symbolic. Either way, the bible is not the best example to use since who knows which "version" we are dealing with and whether Men have added these verses or omitted others.

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" Dont get me wrong, i see that this verse means the material body cannot enter Heaven, but what i am saying is that it doesnt say anything about Hell.

Again, I agree the Koran isn't meant to confuse. But when people become attached to world, including those people who call themselves "Christians" or "Muslims" yet are heedless of their Book's teachings, they tend to follow their own lusts and sometimes do it in the name of God, or religon. There are so many different types of Muslims: moderates, conservatives, extremists, etc...; obviously you all don't interpret the Koran the same, and how it should be applied to everyday life.


Exactly my point. People interpret things to suit themselves. This is inevitable for every religion.

In terms of moderate, conservatives, extremists, etc.....this has nothing to do with interpreting the Quran. For example, thats like saying my gf is a moderate Bahai and your an extremist Bahai, because she doesnt do anything involves her religion. Its not about interpretations, but rather personal choice to be"religious" or not. Its not a different "type".

So, its not anything to do with interpretations. It personal choice to be a good Muslim, bad Muslim, etc.

1) have interpreted their Texts rather laxly, and, in contrast, there have been (2) those who assign a very narrow interpretation, one in which suits their perverted worldy needs. And then (3) there are those in-between. [Such perversion of the texts in order to follow one's lusts certainly looks less harmless since if it is supposedly done in the name of God. (As if everything done "in the name of God" is accepted by God.)]


Yes, and there always will be people interpreting religion to suit them.

Again, a dog can be symbolic, or it can be literal—but it is not always obvious to the reader, since as I have demonstrated from time immomorial people have interpreted many "obvious" texts in differing ways.

So anything can be figurative or literal, but to know, you have to take into account the context.


It is obvious to the reader, because as you say, you must take into account the context. Just like that verse we were discussing where someone can replace "Him" as meaning anyone, but if the context is taken into account, it is obvious to the reader.
I read the verse taking into account the context, but you read it meaning something else. So, if someone chooses for it to mean something else, then they read it out of context.

You are still reading the Iqan I take it.

Ummm.....ive been lazing and havent got back to it yet, but i will. Theres so much thing i need to read. :( Ill finish it eventually.

Baha'u'llah very masterfully explains the true meaning of some Koranic imagry such as the stars, moon, etc., used in the Koran, and what it means when they fall, and so on. It is absurd according to Baha'u'llah that God would actually allow the stars and the moon to fall from the sky (what's the point?). Thus one looks at the deeper meaning to get beyond what would otherwise be preposterous if interpreted literally.


And im sure its absurd to the Muslims too. Which im sure the Muslims didnt take this literally, because again it is obvious to anyone. And im also sure that the Prophet Muhammad didnt take it literally and would have taught its meaning. Whats the verse? Ill try and find the Prophets teachings for it.

If religious texts didn't have any deeper meanings that could be uncovered and expounded on, then we wouldn't had/have scholars/philosophers who uncover deeper truths from the verses. That is, if laymen could all just as easily and equally see the true meaning of every single verse, then there wouldn't have been any need for the Muslim scholars/philosophers, who contributed immensely to Islam.


It is obvious to people when something is symbolic or not, but ofcourse there are verses which is difficult to determine their true meaning. But not in terms if a verse is symbolic or not. Therefore scholars are required.

Here is a quote from the Iqan that discusses the symbolic meaning of words such as "resurrection," which might answer your question:


In every age and century, the purpose of the Prophets of God and their chosen ones hath been no other but to affirm the spiritual significance of the terms "life," "resurrection," and "judgment." ... Wert thou to attain to but a dewdrop of the crystal waters of divine knowledge, thou wouldst readily realize that true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit. For the life of the flesh is common to both men and animals, whereas the life of the spirit is possessed only by the pure in heart who have quaffed from the ocean of faith and partaken of the fruit of certitude. This life knoweth no death, and this existence is crowned by immortality. Even as it hath been said: "He who is a true believer liveth both in this world and in the world to come." If by "life" be meant this earthly life, it is evident that death must needs overtake it.


I dont know, maybe im missing something. All i understand from that is Bahaullah is talking about true life is not the life of the flesh but life of the spirit. Maybe you can explain what he is saying about the resurrection?

Read the Iqan all the way through, and it will help you get a better appreciation for the Baha'i position. My posts are only mere opinions based on my very limited knowledge of the Writings (though I try to be accurate), and don't compare at all to the mastery of the Baha'i texts, especially Baha'u'llah's eloquent expounding on the Koran. Maybe after you read it, give us your critique of the Iqan?


Yes i will read it all the way through and ill let you know what i think.

Yeah. But only the ones that correctly pick which verses are symbolic and which ones are literal will arive at the truth. It is not some sort of relativistic thing, where whatever you (or a group) pick and choose to be symbolic/literal is really the true interpretation. You have to admit that you could be wrong in how you are interpreting your verses, just as we Baha'is can be. You can't just say others "can pick and choose" but not also apply this to yourself.


From my knowledge, ive never heard of any Muslims that have disagreed with the symbolism or literal verses in the Quran. Whether they are Sunni or Shia. There are obviously reasons to this -Authentic Hadiths - which cannot be rejected by anyone.

I personally could be wrong with the way i interpret the verses, but its what is obvious to me. And yes, Bahais could also be wrong with their interpretations. The only way i can confirm my interpretations is by Hadiths.

Yes anyone can "pick and choose" which is why the symbolism in the Quran is obvious. Why have verses that are obviously symbolic and others that are not. Thats just another way of saying the Quran is confusing.

And they have returned. Forget that I even mentioned the word "Manifestation." The 12th Imam has returned in the person of the Bab, Imam Husayn (3rd Imam) Baha'u'llah, and Baha'u'llah is also the return of Christ.


I dont understand. So you believe that Imam Husayn and Imam Mahdi are the Bab?

Either way, but why would you think Muslims think they are better than other men before them?

No, other way around. Our souls are perfect since they are the ones that progress in the next life, the ones that return to God. When man turns to his animal nature, and in doing so shuts off the connection to his spiritual nature, then it is made obvious in this case that his material form is the one that is imperfect, not his spiritual form.

Flesh (man) is imperfect because it can act imperfectly due to free will (free will can can cause man to err and sin). Whereas in the world of spirit, regression is not possible since the next world is characterized only by progression, not regression, as the Baha'i writings teach. (Regression, or more generally imperfection, are only characteristics of a material world.)


The soul is what drives the body. Without the soul, our bodies are lifeless. Therefore the soul can be good or bad. Not our body. Our body is controlled by the soul. Flesh is just that....flesh. Take the soul out and its nothing but a piece of meat.

The body is the souls clothing. ;)

Regards
Abbas

Posted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 4:12 am
by brettz9
Hello all,

I wrote the following before finding several other responses. I added a few responses at the end to take those into account, but I did not change what I said earlier, even though some may have covered some of it.

-----
First of all, to Richard's kind words, it is you, Richard, as it is said in Persian, that have kind eyes to find something good in something that hardly is. To any small extent it is, it is due to the instruction provided by this Faith. I really hesitate to write long essays, as I fear they will not be helpful or be read by anyone, so at least they have had some purpose!

Now to Abbas' points...

...Allah does not intend to confuse us.


I think this could be the source of some difference of opinion. Although we do believe that God does not leave us completely in the dark (e.g., as Baha'u'llah argues in the Iqan that the Bible could not be wholly (or even largely) literally corrupted if the People of the Book were to be held accountable on Judgement Day), we do believe that God tests us.

Some people may have a hard time with this, just as they may have a hard time reconciling God could be complicit in some severe suffering they have faced or seen in their lives (thus many people are tempted to disbelieve in God, assign these challenges to a partner of God they call Satan, or reduce God's reach by stating He did not have the power to intervene).

Baha'u'llah, in the Iqan, states that God does sometimes deliberately test us, using the example of how God Muhammad changed the Qiblih from Jerusalem to Mecca, how Jesus was seen as born to someone unchaste, and how Moses was seen as a murderer. God certainly can also confuse us, even while He also provides the means--sooner or later-- (such as through His interpreters if not our own minds) to get out of the trouble.

But believing it [Hell] is symbolic, is a complete change since there is no indication in the Quran that it is.


First of all, again, we are not saying that Hell is not a real condition of suffering in the afterlife. All we are saying is that, as Baha'u'llah has explained, the afterlife transcends our limited ideas of time and space, so we cannot really call it a "place". That doesn't mean that we don't believe that we will face suffering for our misdeeds (or rewards for our good actions). We will, as God wills.

Secondly, if you read the Bible, you may also find it hard (at least without the Baha'i interpretations ahead of time) to see why Muhammad was not as explicitly pointed out as the literal-minded might wish, or why it does refer to Jesus as the "Son of God", or why it does not seem from the Bible that one "like" Jesus was killed instead of Jesus Himself.

Third, the Scriptures refer to the fact that it would only be in the Judgement Day (which we as Baha'is believe has arrived) that the meaning of the scriptures would be unlocked. The Bible for example states that it would only be in the time of the end that the meaning of Daniel's words would be unsealed. The Imams refer to veils which would be pierced unaided (interpreted by Baha'u'llah as referring to the removal of such veils as the phrase "Seal of the Prophets". And the Scriptures also refer to Him coming through clouds--again interpreted in part as the clouds of misunderstandings.

Fourth, the fact that there are many contending sects and schools within Islam, citing contradictory Hadiths or judgments should be a proof that it is not always so clear to human beings when something is symbolic and/or literal.

I dont believe being material is imperferct. There is nothing to suggest that. Maybe im wrong, but i havent seen anything to indicate being in a material form or anything material is imperfect.


Bahai's do not believe that material is inherently imperfect. We only believe that it is relatively imperfect when compared to the spirit (see Chapter 29 of Some Answered Questions).

I guess it is to an individuals interpretation that flesh is being equated with corruption, but it states that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdon of God. Maybe so. However not with Hell, but only the Kingdom of God.


Well, the Qur'an also uses material objects (e.g., gardens, fruits, drinks,, etc.) to refer to Paradise without directly indicating that they are only symbols (yet again, nevertheless, real and of importance).

If one desires, they may take this as symbolism and interpret it the way it suits them. Is it not possible?
This is why people thoroughly investigate the Quran and Hadiths to avoid misinterpretation.


Well, yes, people can do so, but why must the Qur'an and Hadiths be the only acceptable standard? What is the standard that will cause non-Muslims to accept the Qur'an instead of some other Book? There must be some standard that we can apply to any Holy Book, without need to refer to external sources. Baha'u'llah even states (again in the Iqan) that prophecies are not an adequate proof.

People can argue that mankind at that time would not understand. But it would have made more sense and more believable if the Prophet told them that they will be closer to God or more away from God. It wouldnt constantly mention the punishment in Hell if that was so.


When we say "away from God", we don't simply mean that in the afterlife Hell will simply be as it is for unbelievers now--that they will not be as happy as they could be. We believe that this remoteness from God will be much more acute of a punishment in the next world. Our Writings repeatedly refer to the benefits brought in prior ages by the teachings of future rewards and punishments, and our Writings also add additional descriptions of the reality of this future condition for each human being.

But just as Muslims accept progressive revelation before Muhammad, is it realistic to presume that humanity has attained the summit of achievement and in no need of further Revelation? You may refer to "seal of the Prophets", but we believe Baha'u'llah has provided abundant proofs about the wider meaning of this term (such as in the Iqan where He argues that if Muhammad could claim to be the first Prophet (Adam), He could certainly claim to be the last). Some of the understandings will be given added nuance over the ages, and no doubt 1000+ years in the future after Baha'u'llah, it will also.

Brettz9, as you mention further down the line, 'And, yes, since God can do as He wills" this is the same with Hell. Therefore it doesnt have to be a symbol. If Allahs wills, it shall be.


First, please call me Brett (I only chose the name in case of name conflicts and habit, but I don't see any other Brett's here).

Although I have already discussed how we believe Hell does exist (just that it will be a mental (albeit acute) suffering instead of a physical one), I might also add here that while religious discourse does at times refer to God doing as He wills, even the religious texts use logic. For example, the Baha'i Writings state that a God Who could incarnate would cease to be God. All we are saying is that the flames cannot logically be the kind we know as with combustion, releasing CO2, and so on, as these are inherently physical phenomena.

Off topic - When you mention "unauthenticated text', does it mean there are books which need to be confirmed as true writings from successors? So has there been books ruled out as not authentic?


I'm not sure about the status of some Tablets held by the Baha'i World Centre. I understand many have not been catalogued (though the most important ones have been), but I don't know about Tablets being unverified for authorship.

What I was referring to (and should have been more explicit perhaps) was a statement that was part of a collection of English translations which had not been sorted out to indicate which translations were based on authentic text (and whether the translation were accurate or not), which were translations from original texts now lost (and thus unauthenticatable), or which texts were simply pilgrim's notes.

That means Bahaullah must of believed in ALL the authentic Hadith initially, right? Even the ones where the verses in the Quran were explained by the Prophet Muhammed(a.s). Bahuallah then rejected only their authoritative guidance, but the interpretations of verses would then still be applicable? So if the interpretations of Hadith was not rejected, then technically there should be no contradications between Bahuallah and the teachings of the Prophet.


Well, as far as the last point, we do not believe that there are any contradictions between Baha'u'llah and the teachings of His Holiness Muhammad.

However, this does not mean that we of necessity believe that all of the Hadith considered "authentic" or "authoritative" through the methods of His followers were necessarily all the actual teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Although Baha'u'llah did quote some traditions and stated they were authoritative, this does not necessarily mean He agreed that all Hadith classified by such-and-such as authoritative were all necessarily authoritative. He may have simply referred to their status as authoritative to defend His argument against minimization for relying on questionable traditions.

So while we may be able to find inspiration in the traditions related to the Prophet Muhammad (or the Sacred 12 Imams for that matter), just as we can with our own "pilgrim's notes", we believe that in this Age, God has delivered everything we need within authenticated texts.

In other words, whereas in the past humanity was left to its own devices (to a degree at least) in matters of the institutions of the succession (besides the Imamate but which was forced into obscurity), as relates to applying the social provisions of the Text (e.g., classifying traditions as authoritative or not), and even as far as compiling the texts (e.g., the compilation of the Qur'an after Muhammad, the canonization of the texts of the Bible as through the King James version, etc.), in this Age, these matters are all supervised, to our benefit, by God's manifest, infallible, and indivisible Successorship, now resting with the Universal House of Justice.

So to be elected in the UHJ, someone does not necessarily need to know every detail of the Bahai Faith? If they do need to know, then obviously they would be the best candidate for a debate. Not with a Ulama, but just a Sheikh.


No, Universal House of Justice members do not need to know every detail of the Faith (and it is not really possible for human beings to know every detail perfectly anyhow), as they are an elected institution. We believe however that their decisions as a group (by a majority or consensus) are infallibly guided (and they consult the sacred Writings before making decisions, as well as experts in various fields).


Nevertheless, the other sects still exist.


These are very small in numbers. Our Writings state that if it were not for God's assistance, the Faith would have in fact splintered into a number of real sects. But this reality that it is preserved from any real schism (as Baha'u'llah foretold, while excepting that attacks on the Covenant would be made), is not due to any inherent superiority of Baha'is or that God could not have chosen Muhammad or Christ to have such an inviolable Successorship. But, for mysterious reasons (and those dealing with the maturity of mankind), He chose not to.

Correct me if im wrong but didnt the Bahai religion came from the Shaykhi sect of Shia?


Yes, this prepared people for the Bab, and the Bab in turn prepared people for Baha'u'llah. It is not that we believe that one sect could not have held the truth (though the Imam Ali did propagate and protect the teachings, he withdrew rather than being a source of conflict), but that it is now in this great Day of Days that God has removed the confusion (or the "abomination of desolation" promised in the Bible to precede the Judgement Day is now ended) that kept people from finding the true sect.

As far as your comments on the Resurrection, I'd recommend you to the unpublished letters of the House of Justice at this site. They explain how the emphasis in the Bible on the reality of the Resurrection is to refute the belief of the Jews of the time (and many today) that there was no afterlife (whether a literal afterlife, or the symbolic Paradise brought by acceptance of His Manifestation).

take care,
Brett

p.s. I can't afford to take so much time out, so I may not be able to continue this discussion, at least to such detail. In the meantime, I'd echo strongly BW's suggestion to refer to the Iqan. And as the great Baha'i scholar Mirza Abu'l Fadl experienced, one read of the Iqan (at least a casual read) may leave you without a full impression of how deeply that Book reveals the meanings of ALL of the scriptures...

Posted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 11:56 am
by Baha'i Warrior
Well Abbas, Brett seems to have responded to your comments quite well, and I don't think I could have provided a reply nearly as dexterously as he did.

In addition, I suggest two things. Again, as Brett said, read the Iqan, but don't read it like it's your organic chemistry textbook that you want to get rid of. Take time, relax, and try to let Baha'u'llah explain it to you, because none of us could explicate the words of the Koran, and their true, real meaning as He does. Of a certainty, only Baha'u'llah could perform such a miracle (uncover the truths contained within the Koran that had not been revealed by those before Him).

Once more, about the issue of the interpretation of koranic verses (figurative vs. literal). According to the Koran, some verses are lucid, while others are not, whose meaning is not known except by God. This is why a Prophet, Manifestation, etc., has to elucidate on the verses that are not clear (whose meanings have not been clearly established). Assuredly, as we are told, there are those "whose hearts are given to err" and who will not know the correct meaning of koranic verses:

    He it is who hath sent down to thee "the Book." Some of its signs are of themselves perspicuous;—these are the basis of the Book—and others are figurative. But they whose hearts are given to err, follow its figures, craving discord, craving an interpretation; yet none knoweth its interpretation but God. And the stable in knowledge say, "We believe in it: it is all from our Lord." But none will bear this in mind, save men endued with understanding. (3:5)

As I said, only a Manifestation of God sent after Muhammad can accurately interpret the verses which "none knoweth...but God":

    And now have we brought them the Book: with knowledge have we explained it; a guidance and a mercy to them that believe.

    What have they to wait for now but its interpretation? When its interpretation shall come, they who aforetime were oblivious of it shall say, "The Prophets of our Lord did indeed bring the truth; shall we have any intercessor to intercede for us? or could we not be sent back? Then would we act otherwise than we have acted." But they have ruined themselves; and the deities of their own devising have fled from them! (7:50–51)


The Koran itself is saying, as we can see from the first verse I posted, that certain people crave discord and an interpretation. We also have seen that only God knows the true interpretations, and that the only way we will know for sure which interpretation is correct is via a Messenger sent by God ("when its interpretation shall come..."). Though Muslims may themselves unwaveringly assert that all the verses in the Koran are obvious and their meanings clear (or made obvious by hadith), or whatever the case may be, it is clearly stated that Muslims will have to "wait for...its interpretation," so no Muslims could possibly say, after being directed to this verse, that he can easily see which verses are figurative/literal and that the every verse's meaning is evident to the reader.

I basically summerized (though not thoroughly) the first chapter of Baha'u'llah: The Great Announcement of the Qur'an by Muhammad Mustafa. After (or while) reading the Kitab-i-Iqan—if you are still interested—I really suggest you read this book for further Baha'i proofs. (You can find it on Baha'i Library here: http://bahai-library.com/books/announcement.quran/index.html.)

And lastly, if you want an unbiased opinion (I don't believe he is currently affiliated with any religion) from someone who has had many years of experience and time to ponder on God's spiritual truths, I think what Richard stated below is indispensable to a thorough appreciation of this topic (many thanks for your contributions to this thread, Richard):

Richard wrote:And, as has been noted on this site, all teachings are not literal. The figurative, symbolic, metaphorical, and parabolic parts of revealed teachings are intended to stimulate men's spiritual imaginations and creativity so he will increasingly think and live spiritually according to God's Divine Principles of Spiritual Truth and Unity, not according to lower worldly guidelines. Indeed, the best of the teachings which are not literal, are the ones that, spiritually interpreted, will reveal the basic concepts of truth which too many "christians" and others ignore in their Bibles or other religious texts.

Indeed, too often i see these misguided persons as dogmatic, inflexible, and aggressive in their approach to others. They are insensitive to spiritual thoughts and concepts, and unable to have spiritual relationships with others. Spiritual experiences of Patience, Peace, Goodness, Humility, Gentleness, Self-Control, Moderation, and even Faith, Love, and Joy are not easy, or even possible, for many of them because they are dominated by the ego and pride of their minds rather than the spirit and humility in their souls...

Posted: Tue Nov 07, 2006 11:11 am
by Baha'i Warrior
richard wrote:Right BW, though I love the best spiritual truths I see in all religions, I must believe they all focus on the same, one and only God of all, even though He is given many names.


This same belief is held by Baha'is, as you know.

richard wrote:Further, I am unable to believe He is affiliated with any church or religious denomination, even though He supports the growth and progress of them all towards His Perfection, the only Absolutely Perfect Person in His Universe of universes.


Yes, you are correct. All of us on this forum, I am sure, would unhesitatingly admit that God transcends these institutions.

richard wrote:So then, rather than formally affiliate with any church or religious group, I seek to eclectically select, integrate, and reflect the best spiritual teachings of them all and then make friends with and support as many as will accept such a relationship.


You brought this up in another thread, and I wonder if you got my response to it? I said that the only way human beings would have come to know about God was if He had revealed Himself to us. But, as we are told in religious scriptures, men cannot physically see God. If He were to actually reveal Himself, then unquestionably all men would perish. So He has sent us Men among ourselves (His Messengers/Manifestations) to teach us about Him and to set into motion His spiritual laws.

And looking at what Baha'is term "progressive revelation," we see that God continually sends to us such Men (seers, lesser prophets, prophets, manifestations, etc.) so that we may gradually come to know more and more about God's spiritual truths. Without these godly Men, without their Books, without their religions, we would have never been able to know of God.

Now, why did God keep sending men His Messengers? Wasn't one of them enough? Wasn't one holy book enough? Apparently, the answer is no. So we have no reason to believe that God will discontinue what He has been doing from time immemorial. And Baha'is believe that His religion of today is the Baha'i Faith—a religion that formally recognizes the truth in all major world religions and the unity of men. We believe that it is only through the Baha'i teachings that world unity may be realized. All other attempts have not not succeeded such a feat (truly world unity would be a feat, or miracle—one that could only be accomplished by Divine assistance), and none ultimately will. If one studies all the Baha'i principles unreservedly, he will himself come to this conclusion.

richard wrote:And, finally, with apologies, many of the things I write may seem redundant, as may be with what I said below, but even now I see how I could have written it more clearly and accurately so, I think I may sometimes belabor the obvious, that which I think, may have become self-evident.


Please don't apologize, Richard. We all do the same, and it's nice to have you reminding us of God's universal spiritual truths when perhaps some people engaged in discussion of religious topics seem to forget this (as evidenced by their bickering over mere words—and when I say this I am talking about myself mostly), and by doing so completely miss the point of religion.

richard wrote:Yet, it has been said that the truth bears repeating so I hope others will call me on some things I have said before that they may not see as true, so it can be examined.


Ditto that.

richard wrote:Ideally, should we not all be cooperative truth seekers with the potential for the collective benefits of finding and living according to God’s principles of spiritual truth? richard


Truer words have never been spoken. One thing that I think Baha'is can learn from you, Richard, is your steadfast tolerance for others irrespective of their beliefs. I have to say, what you can do with apparent ease (maintain unwavering love for other people) is much harder for others; certainly, if others were as charitable as you are, without doubt war would be abolished and men's strifes would be obliterated for the most part.

Take care Richard, and we look forward to any more wisdom that you might share with us.

—Warrior

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 10:31 am
by choogue
BW,

Of a certainty, only Baha'u'llah could perform such a miracle (uncover the truths contained within the Koran that had not been revealed by those before Him).


So the Prophet Muhammad(a.s) did not reveal the truths contained within the Quran?

is why a Prophet, Manifestation, etc., has to elucidate on the verses that are not clear (whose meanings have not been clearly established).


Which the Prophet Muhammad(a.s) has taught which are the creation of thousands of Hadith.

[Yusufali 3:7] He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.

Basically, there are people who will follow the symbolic nature and try to find out their true meanings, but only Allah knows the true meanings.

This doesnt mean that one cannot differentiate between what is symbolic and what is literal. Only Allah knows the hidden meanings of the symbolic verses.

Only the men of understanding will grasp the Message.

As I said, only a Manifestation of God sent after Muhammad can accurately interpret the verses which "none knoweth...but God":


But where does it say only a Manifestation of God after Muhammad can accurately interpret the verses? It says "no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah".

What have they to wait for now but its interpretation? When its interpretation shall come, they who aforetime were oblivious of it shall say, "The Prophets of our Lord did indeed bring the truth; shall we have any intercessor to intercede for us? or could we not be sent back? Then would we act otherwise than we have acted." But they have ruined themselves; and the deities of their own devising have fled from them! (7:50–51)


Your translation is incorrect. Firstly the word interpretations doesnt exist(see the three different translations below) and secondly, the verse numbers are incorrect. It should be 7:53 not 7:50-51.

[Yusufali 7:53]
Do they just wait for the final fulfilment of the event? On the day the event is finally fulfilled, those who disregarded it before will say: "The messengers of our Lord did indeed bring true (tidings). Have we no intercessors now to intercede on our behalf? Or could we be sent back? then should we behave differently from our behaviour in the past." In fact they will have lost their souls, and the things they invented will leave them in the lurch.

[Shakir 7:53] Do they wait for aught but its final sequel? On the day when its final sequel comes about, those who neglected it before will say: Indeed the messengers of our Lord brought the truth; are there for us then any intercessors so that they should intercede on our behalf? Or could we be sent back so that we should do (deeds) other than those which we did? Indeed they have lost their souls and that which they forged has gone away from them.

[Pickthal 7:53] Await they aught save the fulfilment thereof? On the day when the fulfilment thereof cometh, those who were before forgetful thereof will say: The messengers of our Lord did bring the Truth! Have we any intercessors, that they may intercede for us? Or can we be returned (to life on earth), that we may act otherwise than we used to act? They have lost their souls, and that which they devised hath failed them.

Though Muslims may themselves unwaveringly assert that all the verses in the Koran are obvious and their meanings clear (or made obvious by hadith), or whatever the case may be, it is clearly stated that Muslims will have to "wait for...its interpretation," so no Muslims could possibly say, after being directed to this verse, that he can easily see which verses are figurative/literal and that the every verse's meaning is evident to the reader.


No thats not true. As shown above, it does not say we cannot differentiate between what is symbolic and what is literal, so therefore Muslims can say which verses are figurative/literal.

Where does it say that we have to wait for its interpretations? The verse you showed had obvious faults. Even the verse numbers were incorrect. Not sure where you got that translation from. Im assuming Rodwell?

The symbolism revealed is meant to stimulate men's teachings. But the difference between symbolism and literal verses are clear to the reader. (Again, unless they have a different agenda).

Regards
Abbas

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 11:23 am
by Baha'i Warrior
abbas wrote:Well since Muslims believe Islam as being the way of life, they dont see a need for another revelation. Religion is the law of life and doesnt need to change to suit society. Society requires change to suit Allah's laws. I guess it depends how you look at it.


The only reason for religion is to better society, Abbas, and to bring humans closer to God. Why do you think Muhammad in the Koran outlaws some corrupt practices, and gives instructions in regard to how society should be run? Because when society becomes wayward, it means that the people become backward—so they need religion anew once it has ceased to benefit men or society anymore, otherwise they will be lost and removed from God's countenance. Baha'u'llah sees many things wrong with society that we cannot see. This is why we need Revelation,—many verses and statements in the Koran and hadith, exhort Muslims to prepare for God's new Revelation.

According to your Shi'a texts, Abbas, Muslims should be awaiting another revelation, even if they aren't. In Imam Ali's apocalyptic discourse, "Sermon of the Gulf," he states, as cited by Baha'u'llah: "Anticipate ye the Revelation of Him Who conversed with Moses from the Burning Bush on Sinai." Notice: Anticipate (expect/predict) another Revelation!

On p. 42 of Epistle of the Son of the Wolf, Baha'u'llah quotes Imam Husayn:

"Husayn, the son of `Alí—peace be upon him—likewise saith: 'Will there be vouchsafed unto anyone besides Thee a Revelation which hath not been vouchsafed unto Thyself—A Revelation Whose Revealer will be He Who revealed Thee. Blind be the eye that seeth Thee not!'"

Also, on p. 117 of the Iqan, Baha'u'llah shows how Muhammad had unveiled the true meaning of "resurrection":

    He bade the erring and wayward arise and speed out of the sepulchres of their bodies, arrayed them with the beauteous robe of faith, and quickened them with the breath of a new and wondrous life. Thus at the hour when Muhammad, that divine Beauty, purposed to unveil one of the mysteries hidden in the symbolic terms "resurrection," "judgment," "paradise," and "hell," Gabriel, the Voice of Inspiration, was heard saying: "Erelong will they wag their heads at Thee, and say, `When shall this be?' Say: `Perchance it is nigh.'"1 The implications of this verse alone suffice the peoples of the world, were they to ponder it in their hearts.

    1 50:20

    Source: http://bahai-library.com/?file=bahaullah_kitab_iqan#117


—Warrior

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 11:33 am
by Baha'i Warrior
abbas wrote:No thats not true. As shown above, it does not say we cannot differentiate between what is symbolic and what is literal, so therefore Muslims can say which verses are figurative/literal.


Apparently not, at least those who think the Resurrection is literal, for example. See my previous post where I quoted Baha'u'llah on this topic.

abbas wrote:Where does it say that we have to wait for its interpretations? The verse you showed had obvious faults. Even the verse numbers were incorrect. Not sure where you got that translation from. Im assuming Rodwell?


Those incorrect verse numbers weren't from me. Either they were a typo by the author in the source I cited, or by the person who put them up online. I should have double checked the verse numbers, so sorry.

Yes Rodwell.

abbas wrote:The symbolism revealed is meant to stimulate men's teachings. But the difference between symbolism and literal verses are clear to the reader. (Again, unless they have a different agenda).


I have disproven this assertion of yours many times. The Iqan shows you how the symbolism isn't clear (to all Muslims) in the Koran. If you read it all the way through you will see for yourself.

Again, the Koran says that there are those "whose hearts are given to err, follow its figures, craving discord, craving an interpretation" (3:5). According to the Koran, and hadith especially from Imam Ali, many Muslims themselves will be blind to the truth.

Take care,

BW

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 1:04 pm
by brettz9
Hello all,

Just a brief interjection on the subject of Rodwell and Qur'an translations...

Rodwell did use different numbering...If there is a clear mistake in reflecting Rodwell's own numbering on site here, please let us know, but my guess is that it is simply a difference in numbering systems.... Also, FYI, since the Sale translation did not originally contain numbering, I chose to create a parsed version here, and for consistency with most Baha'i references (as well as for comparison with Rodwell), I used the Rodwell numbering (though I did not renumber the Surah numbers as Rodwell did, since Sale adhered to the traditional numbering).

Since Shoghi Effendi considered Rodwell's the most literary translation of the time (actually there were as I understand practically only Sale's and Rodwell's to speak of), Baha'i texts often use this numbering. (Shoghi Effendi also recommended Sale's translation as being the most scholarly at the time and that its notes were helpful for people to get at the background of the verses.)

However, as the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice has since confirmed, Baha'is are in no way confined to these translations: http://bahai-library.com/?file=quran_rodwell_sale_zamir

And, hopefully quite needless to say, we do not agree with the detractions added within the notes of these translations (both written by Christian missionaries, though Sale was much more impartial, at least within the translation notes), especially the often cynical ones of Rodwell (which were not recommended by the Guardian, but which I included on site, especially since they did contain some helpful Biblical cross-references).

Also, a letter on behalf of the House of Justice points out how a believer can generally reflect the spirit of the text better than a non-believer, which might incline one more to more recent renderings as have been done by Muslims--Western or Eastern (though on the other hand, as the above-mentioned memorandum (indirectly) points out, translations can also reflect the bias of the sect of the translator.

take care,
Brett

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:53 pm
by Baha'i Warrior
Thanks for adding that, Brett. Personally I'm partial to Rodwell myself, though I recognize his cynicism toward the Prophet. (For example, Rodwell speculates that the Prophet in the later suras spoke less of the Houri because at that time His older wife died and He received many young wives—I can try to find the note if anyone's interested. It's a shame that some people have the gall to talk about a prophet like that.)

Brett wrote:Also, a letter on behalf of the House of Justice points out how a believer can generally reflect the spirit of the text better than a non-believer, which might incline one more to more recent renderings as have been done by Muslims--Western or Eastern (though on the other hand, as the above-mentioned memorandum (indirectly) points out, translations can also reflect the bias of the sect of the translator.


I think that the Muslim translators could also add some bias to their translations, for example they have their own interpretations of certain verses which might effect their objectivity, whereas Rodwell didn't believe in the religion of Islam nor Muhammad, so he would presumably not have let certain popular Muslim interpretations of verses have any effect on his translation. Or am I wrong about that? What would you say, Brett?

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 9:55 pm
by brettz9
I think that the Muslim translators could also add some bias to their translations...What would you say, Brett?


Yes, that was what I was trying to say by "though...translations can also reflect the bias of the sect of the translator" (though I see now that could have been ambiguous).

One good (yet unfortunate) example of this are some translations of the first Surah of the Qur'an which translate the last two verses (translated by Rodwell as "Guide Thou us on the straight path, The path of those to whom Thou hast been gracious;–with whom thou art not angry, and who go not astray.") as something like "Guide Thou us on the straight path, and not the path of the Jews or the Christians".

1

Posted: Thu Nov 09, 2006 4:44 pm
by choogue
Jonah or Brett,

Why was my reply deleted? I replied to your post (Brett) and once i submitted the reply i re-read it and then replied to BW's post.

The reply was just before my last post where i responded to BW. Now its not there and i know for a fact i submitted it since i re-read it. Was it offensive in any way or was it deleted by accident?

If it was deleted because it seemed offensive, let me know.

BW,

Apparently not, at least those who think the Resurrection is literal, for example. See my previous post where I quoted Baha'u'llah on this topic.


Thats yet to be proven to those people though....

Those incorrect verse numbers weren't from me. Either they were a typo by the author in the source I cited, or by the person who put them up online. I should have double checked the verse numbers, so sorry.

Yes Rodwell.


Thats fine. We're are not perfect. Neither was Rodwell as it seems. ;)

I have disproven this assertion of yours many times. The Iqan shows you how the symbolism isn't clear (to all Muslims) in the Koran. If you read it all the way through you will see for yourself.


No you havent BW and i think you know that you havent. All you showed me is how you see the interpretation. To me, the difference between symbolism and literal verses are showed clearly in Quran. Only the hidden meanings are known by Allah. Not the difference between the symbolism and literal nature of verses. Unless you can show me where in the Quran it mentions that only Allah knows which verses are symbolical or not, then i would agree with you.

Again, the Koran says that there are those "whose hearts are given to err, follow its figures, craving discord, craving an interpretation" (3:5). According to the Koran, and hadith especially from Imam Ali, many Muslims themselves will be blind to the truth.


The verse actually goes like this - ".....But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah......"

Yes craving its hidden meanings.......and then it says "none will grasp the Message except men of understanding." Not sure where it mentions many Muslims will be blind to the Truth.

Can you provide the original source of Imam Ali's Hadith? I would like to read the whole Hadith relating to this. Thanks.

I think that the Muslim translators could also add some bias to their translations, for example they have their own interpretations of certain verses which might effect their objectivity, whereas Rodwell didn't believe in the religion of Islam nor Muhammad, so he would presumably not have let certain popular Muslim interpretations of verses have any effect on his translation.


Possible, but this is why it is handy to keep the Quran in Arabic to refer to. At the end, the translations are a "choice of words" anyway rather than a "version", so i usually rely on the Yusuf Ali, Shakir and Pickthal translations at the same time to see any differences. Worst case scenario, i get my Mum to read it in Arabic.

One good (yet unfortunate) example of this are some translations of the first Surah of the Qur'an which translate the last two verses (translated by Rodwell as "Guide Thou us on the straight path, The path of those to whom Thou hast been gracious;–with whom thou art not angry, and who go not astray.") as something like "Guide Thou us on the straight path, and not the path of the Jews or the Christians".


Never seen anyone translate it like that. Do you know who it is so i can avoid those types of translations?

As i said, the best translators i would recommend are Yusuf Ali, Shakir or Pickthal as they translate the last two verses of the first Surah as:

Shakir 1:6] Keep us on the right path.
[Yusufali 1:6] Show us the straight way,
[Pickthal 1:6] Show us the straight path,
[Shakir 1:7] The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors. Not (the path) of those upon whom Thy wrath is brought down, nor of those who go astray.
[Yusufali 1:7] The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.
[Pickthal 1:7] The path of those whom Thou hast favoured; Not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.


Regards
Abbas

Posted: Thu Nov 09, 2006 5:45 pm
by Baha'i Warrior
Abbas,

Again, your assertion that, "To me, the difference between symbolism and literal verses are showed clearly in Quran," is obviously wrong. If that were the case, then there would be no need for scholarship. Perhaps you have another explanation as to why there are Muslim scholars, and why there is so much attention focused on figuring out the meaning of verses, including whether they are literal or symbolic. Unless God has given you some special powers that the Muslim scholars and other Muslims don't have, which allows you to clearly and fully comprehend the meaning of each verse.

I have to study for an exam for tomorrow, but after it I will show you a verse in the Koran that says that the Day of Judgement/Resurrection has already happened (not only when the Bab and Baha'u'llah arrived, but also in the time of Muhammad). I will show you Baha'u'llah's explanation, a Baha'i scholar's explanation, and Muslim scholars' interpretation. I will show you that this verse, which is obviously literal, is construed as being symbolic by Muslim scholars, because they don't want to admit that the Day of Judgement/Resurrection are figurative (they say a word is missing from this verse in the Arabic—again I'll show you tomorrow). Many of them (as well as the majority of Muslims themselves) interpret the Koran to "suit their own needs," to use your words, because their minds are so set with the idea that there will be no more Revelations, even though it is clearly stated in hadith, and it is also found in the Koran.

Abbas: You have just heard the trumpet blast. :!: It was when the Baha'is told you that there is a new Revelation. This same trumpet blast was sounded at the inauguration of Muhammad's Revelation. This new trumpet blast has upset the equilibrium of the whole world. It has shaken all men to the core. There are those who emphatically deny it, clinging to the old ways just like their forefathers, resisting change—the inevitable. Only few can see behind the veils that men have created. Even the hadith say that the Mahdi will be killed (as the Bab was of course). If his return is so obvious, and if he is to be so victorious, then why does he get killed, as the hadith state? It is because he wasn't recognized, as he is never recognized by the majority of men (at the beginning).

The trumpet blast, Abbas. The real interpretation of the verses of the holy Koran, via Baha'u'llah—the One who originally sent Muhammad, along with all the Prophets since Adam. The realization of the grandeur of Baha'u'llah's station. The trumpet blast, my friend. Not nice, sooting violin music, but an upsetting blast of the trumpet.

I will get back to you tomorrow :).

Your friend...BW

Posted: Thu Nov 09, 2006 8:53 pm
by choogue
Quote:
Again, your assertion that, "To me, the difference between symbolism and literal verses are showed clearly in Quran," is obviously wrong.


It obviously isnt since you havent proved anything to indicate that it is a mistake.

Quote:
If that were the case, then there would be no need for scholarship. Perhaps you have another explanation as to why there are Muslim scholars, and why there is so much attention focused on figuring out the meaning of verses, including whether they are literal or symbolic.


No i dont have another explanation. My explanation remains the same as what ive explained to you before.

The need for scholarship is to explain the verses that people are not able to understand or need assistance with understanding. Not to differentiate between symolism and literal veres. There is only Allah that knows the "hidden meanings" of the symbolic verses. This is clearly stated. It does not mention that only Allah knows the difference between the symbolic and literal verses. If you believe it does say that, please show me the verse.

Now, since it doesnt say only Allah knows the difference between the symbolism and literal verses, it is obvious that anyone with commonsense can differentiate between them, especially when the whole Quran is read. It makes it even more obvious.

Symbolism in the Quran is clear, however only Allah knows their "Hidden Meanings". Again, nowhere does it say that only Allah knows the difference between the symbolism and literal verses. Its very clear to understand that verse.

Scholars teach the Quran and Hadith and can answer any of our questions. There are many reasons why scholars are here as there are many questions to ask. That should be obvious why there is a need for Scholars.

Quote:
Unless God has given you some special powers that the Muslim scholars and other Muslims don't have, which allows you to clearly and fully comprehend the meaning of each verse.


When did i say that i can clearly and fully comprehend the meaning of each verse? How many times have i mentioned to you that the interpretations that i post are my personal opinion and i could be wrong therefore we need to refer to the Hadith? It is obviously not clear to you what i am explaining.

The "meanings" of the verse may not be clear, but the difference between verses that are "symbolic" and "literal" are clear. Your obviously not correctly interpreting what im saying.

So:
- Meanings of verses are not clear.
- Difference between symbolic and literal verses are clear.

This is as simple as i can put it.

Quote:
I will show you a verse in the Koran that says that the Day of Judgement/Resurrection has already happened (not only when the Bab and Baha'u'llah arrived, but also in the time of Muhammad).


At the time of Muhammad? So there were two Judgement Days?

Quote:
I will show you Baha'u'llah's explanation, a Baha'i scholar's explanation, and Muslim scholars' interpretation.


Correct me if im wrong:
Bahai scholar: Judgement Day is the arrival of the Bab and Bahaullah
Muslim Scholar: Judgement Day is the end of days where we will be judged

Quote:
I will show you that this verse, which is obviously literal, is construed as being symbolic by Muslim scholars, because they don't want to admit that the Day of Judgement/Resurrection are figurative (they say a word is missing from this verse in the Arabic—again I'll show you tomorrow).


I cant see why for 1200 years no-one has mentioned that Judgement Day is figurative until now or that Muslim scholars have been saying for this whole time that a word is missing from a verse in Arabic. I have never heard this before that a word is missing, but i will wait for your proof before i comment.

Quote:
Many of them (as well as the majority of Muslims themselves) interpret the Koran to "suit their own needs," to use your words, because their minds are so set with the idea that there will be no more Revelations, even though it is clearly stated in hadith, and it is also found in the Koran.


Well its not really to suit the Muslims own needs since there is a greater punishment and a fear of the world ending. Its better suited if these things dont exist.

Although you say it is clearly stated in the Hadith and Quran, i still havent seen any verses that suggest or even may suggest that, unless you are talking about the verse where the "Him" was miraculously changed to another prophet even though the context was clearly in terms of Allah? So i guess i can say that it is clearly stated that there isnt, but you deny that since "Him" could be changed at any time to mean anything or anyone else.

It is obviously clear to you that there is and obviously clear to me that there isnt.

Quote:
This same trumpet blast was sounded at the inauguration of Muhammad's Revelation. This new trumpet blast has upset the equilibrium of the whole world. It has shaken all men to the core. There are those who emphatically deny it, clinging to the old ways just like their forefathers, resisting change—the inevitable.


So im assuming the Trumpet is symbolical?

Quote:
Even the hadith say that the Mahdi will be killed (as the Bab was of course). If his return is so obvious, and if he is to be so victorious, then why does he get killed, as the hadith state? It is because he wasn't recognized, as he is never recognized by the majority of men (at the beginning).


Yes, why wouldnt it be possible that the Mahdi be killed AND be victorious? There have been many people in history that were killed but yet were victorious. I dont see an issue with that.

Quote:
The trumpet blast, Abbas. The real interpretation of the verses of the holy Koran, via Baha'u'llah—the One who originally sent Muhammad, along with all the Prophets since Adam.


Hold on. So Bahaullah was the one who sent Muhammad and other prophets before Him? Is this where the Manifestation of God means that Bahaullah is the material form of God? Could you please show me verses where Bahaullah refers himself as God? From the Bahai writings ofcourse.

Quote:
The trumpet blast, my friend. Not nice, sooting violin music, but an upsetting blast of the trumpet.


Im still under the assumption that your gonna tell me the blast of the Trumpet is symbolical, but i could be wrong.

Quote:
I will get back to you tomorrow


Look forward to it. Goodluck with your exam brother.

Regards
Abbas

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 12:04 am
by brettz9
Hello Abbas,

No, we would not (deliberately at least) delete your posts I am sure, as they have not been anything deviating from the highest respect and politeness.

Two possibilities I can think of...
1) We also have 2 other moderators helping with spam. Perhaps one of them accidentally deleted it and didn't realize it. One confusing thing for a moderator is that the button to delete a post is placed near to the option to quote a post or check an IP address (for blocking).
2) You only hit the "preview" button instead of the submit button. The preview button will also show the text of the post, but will not register it permanently unless you eventually click "submit" after your preview(s).

If it was our fault, hopefully we can identify what it was. We are of course very sorry for that, as we are very happy to have your participation!

As far as the Qur'an with the translation I referred to, unfortunately I cannot give you an exact name. It was a while ago that I saw this translation. It may have been a free Qur'an I picked up somewhere, but it is now at my family's home out of the country, and I can't check right now.

take care,
Brett

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 1:25 am
by Baha'i Warrior
My apologies Abbas, I am a new mod and am still getting used to the extra buttons. I hit "edit" instead of "quote" button which I'm used to using. In fact I just made the same mistake right now w/Brett's post, but managed to restore it. My apologies again.

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 8:49 am
by choogue
Thats fine BW. As long as it was by accident, it doesnt matter. I was just freaking out since i was so sure that i hit submit. :)

Abbas

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:17 pm
by Baha'i Warrior
All right then, the exam is over, let's get started. :)

Abbas wrote:
Again, your assertion that, "To me, the difference between symbolism and literal verses are showed clearly in Quran," is obviously wrong.


It obviously isnt since you havent proved anything to indicate that it is a mistake.


Technically, it isn't obvious that the distinction between symbolism and literalism in the Koran is clear if I haven't shown otherwise.

You say:

The need for scholarship is to explain the verses that people are not able to understand or need assistance with understanding. Not to differentiate between symolism and literal veres. There is only Allah that knows the "hidden meanings" of the symbolic verses. This is clearly stated. It does not mention that only Allah knows the difference between the symbolic and literal verses. If you believe it does say that, please show me the verse.


Abbas, sorry, but obviously you are not familiar with the scholarship out there. What are your intentions, if I may ask? To defend your idea that the meaning of verses are easily understood to be symbolic/literal by the lay reader? Or to "defend" Islam? How are you defending Islam if God has sent another Messenger? When a new Day has come, do you really think that the prophets of old are somehow happy that you are still clinging to and endorsing their faiths, resisting the new Day which they themselves informed you about? And using their holy words against them, by showing that neither Koran nor hadith talk about a coming Revelation?

And perhaps you might see that actually you yourself are "picking and choosing" which verses to interpret as symbolic or literal. For example, in a previous post you admitted that koranic verses referring to the stars falling from the sky at the Day of Judgment is symbolic. Yet you insist that the resurrection is literal.

Which is more miraculous? Stars falling from the sky, OR flesh out of nowhere forming around the skeletons of cadavers? Personally, stars literally falling from the sky is a lot more belivable to me than matter (flesh) coming out of nowhere and corpses being reanimated. Even in Night of the Living Dead the zombies at least still had most of their flesh and members already intact!

Abbas wrote:When did i say that i can clearly and fully comprehend the meaning of each verse? How many times have i mentioned to you that the interpretations that i post are my personal opinion and i could be wrong therefore we need to refer to the Hadith? It is obviously not clear to you what i am explaining.


I don't think you are understanding what I'm saying. Hadith can be just as confusing as the Koran itself for people (like Muslim literalists) who assign literal meanings to verses, which just end up causing confusion and uncertainty (or certainty and clearity in uncertainty and confusion :)). For example, in Imam Ali's "Sermon of the Gulf" (which I have previously referred to, on the Day of Judgement, he states:

    O Jabir! When the Bell shall cry loud, when the stupor of the Nightmare shall enshroud men, when the Cow shall speak, on that day there shall happen wondrous, exceedingly wondrous Events, when the Fire shall be ignited in My sight, when the Banner of the House of 'Uthman shall appear in the Black Valley, when Basra shall be thrown into confusion and they shall seek to conquer each other and each party shall seek the other, when the armies of Khurasan shall begin to move, and when Shu'ayb the son of Salih of Tamim shall be followed in Taliqan, and Sa'id of Shusha shall be obeyed in Khuzistan, and the banner shall be raised up by the Amalekites of the Kurds, and the Arabs shall seek victory over Armenia and the Slavs, and Heraclitus shall submit to the patriarchs of Sinan in Constantinople, anticipate ye then the Revelation of the Speaker of Mount Sinai. This will appear with manifest signs visible unto all, clearly perspicuous to them.

[Note: Abbas, as I have shown you in this passage before, "Anicipate ye then the Revelation..." you are not only waiting for a Mahdi and Jesus, but also a new Messenger with His NEW Message (Book). More on this at the end of this post]

The following italicized text is a commentary with attempted humor to show the abusurdity of interpreting the events of the Day of Judgement literally:

...So now what? We've got a talking cow? (Maybe the Hindus were right after all.) Perhaps for clarification we should read even more hadith to find out if roosters, whales, and pigs will also talk on the day of judgement! Well, come to think of it, if pigs squeal anything, it will probably be "help!" since according to hadith when Jesus returns He will kill swine and break crosses.

So anyway, what do you say? The resurrection will still happen literally, but the prophesies of the stars falling from the sky is symbolic? Look, talking pigs and falling stars are a lot more plausible than zombies walking around on the streets. And anyway, how do these zombies survive? Do they have to kill those that didn't turn into zombies and eat their flesh, like in the zombie films? Hey, if they are getting their material bodies back, then they need some source of energy! In the zombie films, if they can't find food they will sometimes feed off themselves. So, in that case, if a zombie is hungry and nibbles his right arm off, does God restore his arm back? Or, alternatively, maybe the only body part that isn't restored is the stomach, and the zombies are instead solar powered? In that case, it'd be most unfortunate if the Sun were to fall...of course, stars hitting the earth wouldn't be desirable either, as it'd wipe out our globe and God would have to start all over again......or maybe stars can fall, but the zombies have a protective force field around them? Well, probably not—with the force field around them, they could not get at the humans. In any case, according to hadith of the Mahdi, he is to kill so many unrighteous persons that the blood will rise up to the stirrups of the horse. There we go! The zombies can drink from the blood—good source of nutrients and all. Except I'm sure that the blood-borne pathogens would make the drinking a most unpleasant experience. But what do zombies know?

Sorry for being facetious, as the Day of Resurrection, specifically those who are as dead being quickened by Baha'u'llah's Revelation, is indeed a serious matter. But looking to hadith could only "clear up the confusion" if the reader interprets the hadith correctly, and the verses of the Koran as well. Baha'u'llah is the One who has does this, and He clears up even more confusion. Only He, who Himself sent Muhammad, could perfectly know what every single verse in the Koran means—light years ahead of the understanding of all men combined.

Abbas wrote:So:
- Meanings of verses are not clear.


The Baha'i view:

—Up until now the true meaning of the verses of the Koran were not known, at least by laymen, as many verses have been correctly and infallibly interpreted by Baha'u'llah, especially many controversial ones.

Abbas wrote:- Difference between symbolic and literal verses are clear.


The following will help you better understand what I mean when I say that the meanings of certain verses aren't clear to Muslims because many of them add or subtract words when necessary, to usually make such verses conform to their own beliefs and preconceived notions:

Baha'u'llah explains this problem, which is illustrated in 50:20. Baha'u'llah shows how in this verse Muhammad is showing the reader that not only is the day of judgement symbolic, but it occured in Muhammad's own time! More accurately, the day of judgement will happen, but also happened when Muhammad started His Revelation. Baha'u'llah points to how the Muslim commentartors suggested that the word idhá (if or when) was meant to be in this verse but was accidentally left out. In trying to say that this word is left out, they are attempting to prove that 50:20 is not meant literally. This is an example of the symbolism vs. literalism not being obvious to the reader (though the reader tells himself that it's obvious)—though Baha'u'llah now makes its meaning obvious:

    As the commentators of the Qur'án ('ulamay-i tafsír) and they that follow the letter thereof (ahl-i zahir) misapprehended the inner meaning (batin) of the words of God and failed to grasp their essential purpose, they sought to demonstrate that, according to the rules of grammar, whenever the term "idhá" (meaning "if" or "when") precedeth the past tense, it invariably hath reference to the future. Later, they were sore perplexed in attempting to explain those verses of the Book wherein that term did not actually occur. Even as He hath revealed: "And there was a blast on the trumpet,—lo! it is the threatened Day! And every soul is summoned to a reckoning,—with him an impeller and a witness" (Qur'án 50:20). In explaining this and similar verses, they have in some cases argued that the term "idhá" is implied.

Again, the verse:

"And there was a blast on the trumpet,—lo! it is the threatened Day! And every soul is summoned to a reckoning,—with him an impeller and a witness"


Notice:

"There WAS a blast on the trumpet" = the day of judgement at the time of Muhammad.

"It IS the threatened Day" = It is the day of judgement.

"And every soul IS summoned to a reckoning."

This verse has been extensively studied in the Arabic, with the rules of grammer. All of which are intact in this verse, except that Muslim commentators try to skew its meaning by saying the "idhá"—which would make this verse referring only to the future—is missing.

This verse in the Arabic does not have an "idhá":

"wa-nufikha fi'l-quri dhalika yawmu
al-wa'di wa-ju'at kullu nafsin maha saiqun wa shahidun
la-qad k unta fi ghaflatin min hadha fakashafna 'anka
ghata'aka fa-bÁqáruka al-yawma hadidun"

In Symbol and Secret: Qur'an Commentary in Baha'u'llah's Kitab-i Iqan, Christopher Buck gives the following analysis of the issue (the use of idha) in Chapter 4, providing back-up by Arab grammarians:

    Bahá'u'lláh ascribes to Qur'án commentators two possible justifications for reading futurity into this highly representative eschatological verse: futurity due to the ellipted particle idha; and futurity due to use of a past tense metaphor for a future event due to certainty of occurrence (subjective judgment of time). The former is a syntactical analysis, while the latter is a contextual approach.

    As to the implied (ellipted) idhá in the verse's deep structure, Arab grammarians would have had little difficulty citing quranic verses in which the idha nufikha construction explicitly occurs (e.g., Qur'án 23:101, 36:51, 39:68, 69:13). Verses in which idhá is lacking in connection with nufikha—ellipted or otherwise—are 18:99, 6:73, 20:102, 27:87, 78:18, thus providing textual parallels to 50:20. Arab grammarians tended to resolve the use of past tense in clearly eschatological contexts as instances of majáz (figuration).101

    As N. Kinberg points out:

    A formal integration of grammatical tropes as a sub-category of figures is exhibited by as-Suyuiti (d. 911/1505). In his work on Qur'ánic sciences (al-itqan fi 'ulum al-Qurlan), as-Suyuti dedicates a chapter to literal and figurative language in the Qur'án. In this chapter, the author specifies a sub-category of trope in which a grammatical form is used in a "transferred, deviant" way (majaz), instead of its "regular, ordinary" usage (haqiqa). In this sub-category he adduces examples of anomalous occurrences of certain verbal derivations; ... expressing the future by means of a past verb due to the certainty of its occurrence (namely, the so-called "prophetic perfect").

    Source: http://bahai-library.com/books/symbol.secret/4.html.

Abbas wrote:
I will show you a verse in the Koran that says that the Day of Judgement/Resurrection has already happened (not only when the Bab and Baha'u'llah arrived, but also in the time of Muhammad).


At the time of Muhammad? So there were two Judgement Days?


Yes, as I have just shown. There will be no literal day of judgement. The lesser day of judgement was the Bab's revelation, and the greater day of judgement is Baha'u'llah's. In 50:20, the reader is told that a day of judgement has already occured. Because, at the time of Muhammad, He quickened the ignorant and wayward from the death of ignorance to the life of knowledge (Islam).

Abbas wrote:Correct me if im wrong:
Bahai scholar: Judgement Day is the arrival of the Bab and Bahaullah
Muslim Scholar: Judgement Day is the end of days where we will be judged


Not necessarily "Baha'i scholar," the scholars just elaborate on it. Baha'u'llah has already clearly demonstrated how the Koran shows that the day of judgement is symbolic.

And so the Muslims who are waiting for the "end of days" day of judgement will be waiting for a very, very, very long time—perhaps until the sun does actually hit the earth—unless they read the Koran with the understanding that Baha'u'llah has provided.

Abbas wrote:I cant see why for 1200 years no-one has mentioned that Judgement Day is figurative until now or that Muslim scholars have been saying for this whole time that a word is missing from a verse in Arabic. I have never heard this before that a word is missing, but i will wait for your proof before i comment.


Done.

Abbas wrote:
Many of them (as well as the majority of Muslims themselves) interpret the Koran to "suit their own needs," to use your words, because their minds are so set with the idea that there will be no more Revelations, even though it is clearly stated in hadith, and it is also found in the Koran.


Well its not really to suit the Muslims own needs since there is a greater punishment and a fear of the world ending. Its better suited if these things dont exist.


Again, the verse shows that the day of judgement is figurative. Therefore, many Muslims—except for the ones that read Baha'u'llah's explanation and realized the real meaning of verses—decided like every other religion in the past to hold on to their cherished literal interpretation. 50:20 is literal, that is, Baha'u'llah isn't even showing any symbolic meaning. The verse itself is literal. Again, the verse says:

"There WAS a blast on the trumpet" = the day of judgement at the time of Muhammad.

"It IS the threatened Day" = It is the day of judgement.

"And every soul IS summoned to a reckoning."

...........Also:

"Koran 17:51: Erelong will they wag their heads at Thee, and say, 'When shall this be?' Say: 'Perchance it is nigh.'"

Again, Dr. Buck continues with his explanation from 50:20 (and by the way, what follows also includes Baha'u'llah's explanation of what the trumpet blast is; I was just using it in a different context):

    "Perchance it is nigh" in Qur'án 17:51: Bahá'u'lláh sustains his contemporary and historical reading of Qur'án 50:20 in his exegesis of Qur'án 17:51, concerning the imminence of the eschatological "Hour." The identification of the Day of Judgment with the advent of Muhammad is, for Bahá'u'lláh, borne out in the verse at Qur'án 17:51: "Erelong will they wag their heads at Thee, and say, 'When shall this be?' Say: 'Perchance it is nigh.'""O Bahá'u'lláh's commentary on this verse illustrates one of the exegetical devices whereby tawíl is brought into alignment with the controlling hermeneutical principle of a repeated eschaton at each theophanic advent:

    Nay, by "trumpet" is meant the trumpet-call of Muhammad's Revelation, which was sounded in the heart of the universe, and by "resurrection" is meant His own rise to proclaim the Cause of God. He bade the erring and wayward arise and speed out of the sepulchres of their bodies, arrayed them with the beauteous robe of faith, and quickened them with the breath of a new and wondrous life. Thus at the hour when Muhammad, that divine Beauty, purposed to unveil one of the mysteries hidden in the symbolic terms "resurrection," "judgment," "paradise," and "hell," Gabriel, the Voice of Inspiration, was heard saying: "Erelong will they wag their heads at Thee, and say, 'When shall this be?' Say: 'Perchance it is nigh.'" The implications of this verse alone suffice the peoples of the world, were they to ponder it in their hearts.

    Expectation of an imminent eschaton ("the Hour") is one thing. Acceptance of its realization is quite another. If Bahá'u'lláh can succeed in convincing the reader that an eschaton did take place at the advent of Muhammad, by appealing to the past as a foil for the present, the plausibility of a realized eschaton in the reader's own present is not so untenable as once thought. Once the eschaton is voided of its supernatural character, its realization becomes a matter of spiritual discernment.

    A choice will have to be made by the reader as to who is right: the ulama or Bahá'u'lláh. The reader initially predicates legitimacy on interpretive grounds. If the learned divines can be discredited, the reader will naturally be expected to entertain the validity of another source of authority who can offer a better interpretation. Bahá'u'lláh's interpretations throughout The Book of Certitude undermine the consensus vested in learned Islamic exegesis. Bahá'u'lláh's first challenge to traditional authority rests on interpretive grounds. In the post-Baghdad period (1863-92), Bahá'u'lláh will challenge that authority on other grounds.

    Source: http://bahai-library.com/books/symbol.secret/4.html. Italics added.


Abbas wrote:Although you say it is clearly stated in the Hadith and Quran, i still havent seen any verses that suggest or even may suggest that, unless you are talking about the verse where the "Him" was miraculously changed to another prophet even though the context was clearly in terms of Allah? So i guess i can say that it is clearly stated that there isnt, but you deny that since "Him" could be changed at any time to mean anything or anyone else.


This is going back to an old discussion. You rejected the idea that the Koran says that you can't see God. Whereas most other Muslims know that this verse means that you can't see God. Second of all, unless you actually read Baha'u'llah's Writings and follow His logic, you won't understand why the verse refers to a Manifestation of God. But this is from an old discussion, and I already gave you Baha'u'llah's explanation. If you read the Iqan you will come by it again.

Abbas wrote:Yes, why wouldnt it be possible that the Mahdi be killed AND be victorious? There have been many people in history that were killed but yet were victorious. I dont see an issue with that.


If God can raise the dead, and make the stars fall, etc., then why can't He protect the Mahdi? He's coming back in the most miraculous of ways anyway, so God might as well also protect him. Heck, in the resurrection other people are coming back to life. Are any of these resurrected men better than the Mahdi? Or maybe it is assumed that the Mahdi is killed then is resurrected like the rest. Hmm....

Abbas wrote:Hold on. So Bahaullah was the one who sent Muhammad and other prophets before Him? Is this where the Manifestation of God means that Bahaullah is the material form of God? Could you please show me verses where Bahaullah refers himself as God? From the Bahai writings ofcourse.


No, it's just a term. He's not materially God. That would be impossible, given that the Koran says that you can't see God.

PROPHESIES WHICH STATE THAT ANOTHER WILL COME AFTER BAHA'U'LLAH LIKE MUHAMMAD BRINGING HIS OWN BOOK, AND HIS OWN REVELATION

"In another passage, it is related of Sádiq, son of Muhammad, that he spoke the following: "There shall appear a Youth from Baní-Háshim, Who will bid the people plight fealty unto Him. His Book will be a new Book, unto which He shall summon the people to pledge their faith. Stern is His Revelation unto the Arab. If ye hear about Him, hasten unto Him."

Cited by Baha'u'llah, from the Kitab-i-Iqan (this is why you should read it all the way through, so you can see that the hadith state that there will be another REVELATION).

Notice, Abbas, that according to Avalim, which is considered authoritative and is well known, WHEN THE PROMISED ONE RETURNS, MOST OF HIS ENEMIES WILL BE THE "DIVINES"! Read on...(taken from the Iqan):

    Abú-`Abdi'lláh, questioned concerning the character of the Mihdí, answered saying: "He will perform that which Muhammad, the Messenger of God, hath performed, and will demolish whatever hath been before Him even as the Messenger of God hath demolished the ways of those that preceded Him."...

    In the "Aválím," an authoritative and well-known book, it is recorded: "A Youth from Baní-Háshim shall be made manifest, Who will reveal a new Book and promulgate a new law;" then follow these words: "Most of His enemies will be the divines."...

    In another passage, it is related of Sádiq, son of Muhammad, that he spoke the following: "There shall appear a Youth from Baní-Háshim, Who will bid the people plight fealty unto Him. His Book will be a new Book, unto which He shall summon the people to pledge their faith. Stern is His Revelation unto the Arab. If ye hear about Him, hasten unto Him." How well have they followed the directions of the Imáms of the Faith and Lamps of certitude! Although it is clearly stated: "Were ye to hear that a Youth from Baní-Háshim hath appeared, summoning the people unto a new and Divine Book, and to new and Divine laws, hasten unto Him," yet have they all declared that Lord of being an infidel, and
    pronounced Him a heretic...


    And now, consider this other tradition, and observe how all these things have been foretold. In "Arbá'in" it is recorded: "Out of Baní-Háshim there shall come forth a Youth Who shall reveal new laws. He shall summon the people unto Him, but none will heed His call. Most of His enemies will be the divines. His bidding they will not obey, but will protest saying: `This is contrary to that which hath been handed down unto us by the Imáms of the Faith.'" In this day, all are repeating these very same words, utterly unaware that He is established upon the throne of "He doeth whatsoever He willeth," and abideth upon the seat of "He ordaineth whatsoever He pleaseth."
    -- Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 240-243

Notice, again Abbas, that there are hadith that say that the new Messenger will be rejected BY MUSLIMS. And at the time of Baha'u'llah, the Muslims did not hasten to him, just as is prophesied. [b]"He shall summon the people unto Him, but none will heed His call." Truly, the Muslims were prophesied to act just as their forefathers did—and again the same has happened. History repeats itself. Religion repeats itself. They banished him...they didn't even want to see Him. Are these "Muslims"? Who were the real "infidels"? The ones who helped fulfill the prophesies by persecuting Baha'u'llah, or those Muslims who saw His truth and heeded to His call?

You are awaiting not a mere "reformation" of Islam, according to hadith you are awaiting a MESSENGER with his NEW LAWS and a NEW BOOK. Imams can't give new laws, etc. Did not the Hadith say that the Messenger will "demolish whatever hath been before Him even as the Messenger of God hath demolished the ways of those that preceded Him"? So if you are looking a mere reformation of Islam, you should take note that it will be something very different! A new Faith. The Baha'i Faith.

At least you are doing what you were instructed to do, Abbas, which is hastening to Baha'u'llah since He has made the claim. I applaud you on that, Abbas. Many Muslims don't even do that.

Now you must study the IQAN...read it more than once if you have to...as Baha'u'llah might very well be the Messenger of God that you are waiting for. Until you read the Iqan all the way through, you won't clearly understand Baha'u'llah's relation to your prophesies.

(Here is also a handy source: http://www.bahai-library.com/study/mariner/propheciesoftheimams.html.)

Abbas wrote:Look forward to it. Goodluck with your exam brother.


Thank you Abbas. A man can only take so much organic chemistry... :?

Take care,

Warrior

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 10:11 pm
by Jonah
Off-topic.

Baha'i Warrior wrote:
I am a new mod


I'd like to thank BW for his participation, and I'll make it official: I asked BW to be our fourth spam-moderator (after Brett, Zazaban, and myself). BW has been active on this board for many months and has consistently given many insightful responses and helped stimulate interesting discussion. I'm very happy that he said yes.

Let me also state publicly that none of the moderators edit the content of posts. Sometimes we'll fix wacky formatting, as BW was doing earlier, but mostly we just delete spam. I'm the only one who's ever edited content, and when I do I always make a note about the edit, date it, and initial it.

-Jonah

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 2:50 am
by brettz9
Hello Richard and all,

Richard stated this earlier:

richard wrote:Further, I am unable to believe He is affiliated with any church or religious denomination, even though He supports the growth and progress of them all towards His Perfection, the only Absolutely Perfect Person in His Universe of universes. So then, rather than formally affiliate with any church or religious group, I seek to eclectically select, integrate, and reflect the best spiritual teachings of them all and then make friends with and support as many as will accept such a relationship.


Although your position is, I think, quite a reasonable conclusion, especially given the bitter sectarianism between and within religious denominations, I wanted to piggy-back a little bit on what BW stated in reply.

Besides reiterating BW's points about our requiring a divine Manifestation to educate us--just as we would only submit to the advice of a physician whom we had judged to have qualifications above our own, I think we should mention one especially challenging feature of the Baha'i Faith that one does not and cannot find in previous religions (again, not due to any superiority of Baha'u'llah over previous religious Founders or due to any superiority of us as believers over previous Faith's believers, but due simply to God having chosen this time of the coming maturity of humanity to provide us with these tools). Namely, a divine Administration, foretold in prior Scriptures, and which we do believe incarnates His Spirit:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The might God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

(Isaiah 9:6-7)


Assemblies and not individuals constitute the bedrock on which the Administration is built.

(On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 71)


For those whose priceless privilege is to guard over, administer the affairs, and advance the interests of these Bahá'í institutions will have, sooner or later, to face this searching question: "Where and how does this Order established by Bahá'u'lláh, which to outward seeming is but a replica of the institutions established in Christianity and Islám, differ from them? Are not the twin institutions of the House of Justice and of the Guardianship, the institution of the Hands of the Cause of God, the institution of the national and local Assemblies, the institution of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, but different names for the institutions of the Papacy and the Caliphate, with all their attending ecclesiastical orders which the Christians and Moslems uphold and advocate? What can possibly be the agency that can safeguard these Bahá'í institutions, so strikingly resemblant, in some of their features, to those which have been reared by the Fathers of the Church and the Apostles of Muhammad, from witnessing the deterioration in character, the breach of unity, and the extinction of influence, which have befallen all organized religious hierarchies? Why should they not eventually suffer the self-same fate that has overtaken the institutions which the successors of Christ and Muhammad have reared?"
Upon the answer given to these challenging questions will, in a great measure, depend the success of the efforts which believers in every land are now exerting for the establishment of God's kingdom upon the earth. Few will fail to recognize that the Spirit breathed by Bahá'u'lláh upon the world, and which is manifesting itself with varying degrees of intensity through the efforts consciously displayed by His avowed supporters and indirectly through certain humanitarian organizations, can never permeate and exercise an abiding influence upon mankind unless and until it incarnates itself in a visible Order, which would bear His name, wholly identify itself with His principles, and function in conformity with His laws. That Bahá'u'lláh in His Book of Aqdas, and later `Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will--a document which confirms, supplements, and correlates the provisions of the Aqdas--have set forth in their entirety those essential elements for the constitution of the world Bahá'í Commonwealth, no one who has read them will deny. According to these divinely-ordained administrative principles, the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh--the Ark of human salvation--must needs be modeled. From them, all future blessings must flow, and upon them its inviolable authority must ultimately rest.
For Bahá'u'lláh, we should readily recognize, has not only imbued mankind with a new and regenerating Spirit. He has not merely enunciated certain universal principles, or propounded a particular philosophy, however potent, sound and universal these may be. In addition to these He, as well as `Abdu'l-Bahá after Him, has, unlike the Dispensations of the past, clearly and specifically laid down a set of Laws, established definite institutions, and provided for the essentials of a Divine Economy. These are destined to be a pattern for future society, a supreme instrument for the establishment of the Most Great Peace, and the one agency for the unification of the world, and the proclamation of the reign of righteousness and justice upon the earth. Not only have they revealed all the directions required for the practical realization of those ideals which the Prophets of God have visualized, and which from time immemorial have inflamed the imagination of seers and poets in every age. They have also, in unequivocal and emphatic language, appointed those twin institutions of the House of Justice and of the Guardianship as their chosen Successors, destined to apply the principles, promulgate the laws, protect the institutions, adapt loyally and intelligently the Faith to the requirements of progressive society, and consummate the incorruptible inheritance which the Founders of the Faith have bequeathed to the world.

(Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Baha'u'llah, excerpted from the section Difference Between Bahá'í Faith and Ecclesiastical Organizations)


Your point elsewhere on this forum, Richard, (if I may paraphrase you) that even those Faiths which believe in there being a straight-and-narrow, should see the need for tolerance and love of God's creations, is especially well-taken. Even while Baha'is do believe in teaching our Faith, seek to defend it from attacks, and attempt to provide persuasive arguments (through our albeit imperfect words and character) hoping to win people over to it, we also are not to press those who do not accept something we believe to be a truth, and to even prefer other religionists above ourselves. Besides in individual Baha'i lives, I think this has also been demonstrated at an institutional level where Baha'is have participated in interfaith forums, where it is clearly not on our agenda to try to become engaged in religious argumentation, but rather to work for common goals such as moral education and support for unity in diversity; or, in our community's social and economic development work which is strictly separated from Baha'i teaching activities. It is possible, necessary, and consistent for us to work using both approaches, albeit applying them differentially depending on the circumstances.

take care,
Brett

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 6:47 am
by choogue
Technically, it isn't obvious that the distinction between symbolism and literalism in the Koran is clear if I haven't shown otherwise.


Because your following the belief that indicates that it isnt obvious. If someone just reads the Quran, using their commonsense, symbolism vs literal verses will be clear to the reader.

Abbas, sorry, but obviously you are not familiar with the scholarship out there.


I understand scholarship very well. Just as i have explained, they know everything about the Quran and Hadith therefore assist the people in understanding difficult verses. Obviously this isnt the only thing, but scholar is not their to make sure we differentiate between symbolism and literal verses.

What are your intentions, if I may ask? To defend your idea that the meaning of verses are easily understood to be symbolic/literal by the lay reader? Or to "defend" Islam?


The Quran shows that the difference between literal and symbolic verses are clear. Not me. So i dont need to defend it. As explained, it is obvious to a reader unless they want to look deeper into verses and make them symbolic and try explain it. This is basically what the Quran has warned us.

Dont need to defend Islam. If Islam is the true path, it can defend itself.

How are you defending Islam if God has sent another Messenger?


Lets say i was defending Islam. What if Allah hasnt sent another Messenger? Therefore i would be defending Islam.

So far, the Mahdi returning could still be a possibility, but there hasnt been anything to indicate another Messenger will come or has come. The interpretations presented are weak, in my mind, as so many times the verses were taken out of context and interpreted to suit certain interests.

When a new Day has come, do you really think that the prophets of old are somehow happy that you are still clinging to and endorsing their faiths, resisting the new Day which they themselves informed you about? And using their holy words against them, by showing that neither Koran nor hadith talk about a coming Revelation?


Lets turn this around. If a new Day hasnt come, do you think Allah will be happy that you have interpreted the Quran against the Prophets teachings? Changing the Prophets words to suit certain interpretations?

Again, i will need to read the whole Quran to determine if it mentions another Messenger. Surely the Quran wouldnt contradict itself.

And perhaps you might see that actually you yourself are "picking and choosing" which verses to interpret as symbolic or literal.


No the symbolic verses are obvious. Why is it that there are some symbolic verses that are obvious and then from what your saying, other symbolic verses that are difficult to realise? We both would agree on some obvious symbolic verses but then disagree on the ones that you claim to be symbolic. Why would Allah confuse us? Why would it not be explained simply? Why would it not mention in the Quran that it is difficult to differentiate between symbolic and literal verses? Since it doesnt, what authority does anyone have to inform us that it is difficult to differentiate between symbolic and literal verses? Since Allah did not mention this in the Quran, why would it be difficult then? There is no warning in the Quran of this, so therefore the symbolism and literal verses are made clear. Their meanings however will need interpretations.

For example, in a previous post you admitted that koranic verses referring to the stars falling from the sky at the Day of Judgment is symbolic. Yet you insist that the resurrection is literal.



I asked if you could refer to the verse since i wasnt sure which one you were referring to, but i also said it is obviously symbolic if it mentions that "stars are falling from the sky". i obviously need to read the verse first to make sure what it actually mentions.

Ofcourse i am insisting that the resurrection is literal since it doesnt show anywhere that it not. A third of the Quran talks about Judgement Day, so why wouldnt it of explained, atleast once, that Judgement Day is symbolic? I find that hard to believe.

Which is more miraculous? Stars falling from the sky, OR flesh out of nowhere forming around the skeletons of cadavers? Personally, stars literally falling from the sky is a lot more belivable to me than matter (flesh) coming out of nowhere and corpses being reanimated. Even in Night of the Living Dead the zombies at least still had most of their flesh and members already intact!


:shock: If you cant believe that then your suggesting Allah did not create us from nothing when He first created Adam(a.s)??

Plus your going against Allah's word in the Quran:

[Pickthal 75:3] Thinketh man that We shall not assemble his bones?
[Pickthal 75:4] Yea, verily. We are Able to restore his very fingers!


Unless this is symbolic aswell, which i assume you believe it is....

I don't think you are understanding what I'm saying. Hadith can be just as confusing as the Koran itself for people (like Muslim literalists) who assign literal meanings to verses, which just end up causing confusion and uncertainty (or certainty and clearity in uncertainty and confusion


Yes this is why scholars spend the whole life learning about the Quran and all the Hadith (even the fabricated ones). Study the Quran and Hadith, surely there are going to be people (scholars) who would have understood its meanings. In order to interpret the Quran, one must refer to the Hadith.

For example, in Imam Ali's "Sermon of the Gulf" (which I have previously referred to, on the Day of Judgement, he states:

[Note: Abbas, as I have shown you in this passage before, "Anicipate ye then the Revelation..." you are not only waiting for a Mahdi and Jesus, but also a new Messenger with His NEW Message (Book). More on this at the end of this post]


BW, i have looked everywhere for this "Sermon" and cannot find any references except in the Bahai library. Is this only available from the Bahai library and Muslims do not have it? Can you please help me find it so i can read it in the correct context? Thanks.

The following italicized text is a commentary with attempted humor to show the abusurdity of interpreting the events of the Day of Judgement literally:

...So now what? We've got a talking cow? (Maybe the Hindus were right after all.) Perhaps for clarification we should read even more hadith to find out if roosters, whales, and pigs will also talk on the day of judgement! Well, come to think of it, if pigs squeal anything, it will probably be "help!" since according to hadith when Jesus returns He will kill swine and break crosses.

So anyway, what do you say? The resurrection will still happen literally, but the prophesies of the stars falling from the sky is symbolic? Look, talking pigs and falling stars are a lot more plausible than zombies walking around on the streets. And anyway, how do these zombies survive? Do they have to kill those that didn't turn into zombies and eat their flesh, like in the zombie films? Hey, if they are getting their material bodies back, then they need some source of energy! In the zombie films, if they can't find food they will sometimes feed off themselves. So, in that case, if a zombie is hungry and nibbles his right arm off, does God restore his arm back? Or, alternatively, maybe the only body part that isn't restored is the stomach, and the zombies are instead solar powered? In that case, it'd be most unfortunate if the Sun were to fall...of course, stars hitting the earth wouldn't be desirable either, as it'd wipe out our globe and God would have to start all over again......or maybe stars can fall, but the zombies have a protective force field around them? Well, probably not—with the force field around them, they could not get at the humans. In any case, according to hadith of the Mahdi, he is to kill so many unrighteous persons that the blood will rise up to the stirrups of the horse. There we go! The zombies can drink from the blood—good source of nutrients and all. Except I'm sure that the blood-borne pathogens would make the drinking a most unpleasant experience. But what do zombies know?


What would make someone think that Allah(sw) is not capable of the resurrection? Now thats funny!

I guess its the same as the Atheists since they dont believe in Allah. I dont understand why it would be so hard to believe that Allah, the one who created us, is not able to bring us back! Atheists will obviously not believe this, but someone who believes in God......come on man! Unless ofcourse you believe in Allah but dont believe He is even able to create us?

Sorry for being facetious, as the Day of Resurrection, specifically those who are as dead being quickened by Baha'u'llah's Revelation, is indeed a serious matter. But looking to hadith could only "clear up the confusion" if the reader interprets the hadith correctly, and the verses of the Koran as well. Baha'u'llah is the One who has does this, and He clears up even more confusion. Only He, who Himself sent Muhammad, could perfectly know what every single verse in the Koran means—light years ahead of the understanding of all men combined.


??? Again with Bahaullah as God?? This is really confusing me!! So Bahaullah sent the Prophet Muhammad(a.s)????

Ofcourse your going to believe Bahaullah is the one that can interpret the Quran correctly. Im sure the Ahmadiyya believe their prophet did too.

So again, anyone is able to interpret the Quran to suit themselves, which is why the Quran is made obvious from what is literal and what is symbolic. If it wasnt clear, anyone can say that the flesh of swine can be eaten and use the excuse that it was a symbolic verse!!

The Baha'i view:

—Up until now the true meaning of the verses of the Koran were not known, at least by laymen, as many verses have been correctly and infallibly interpreted by Baha'u'llah, especially many controversial ones.


Fair enough. This is the Bahai view. But i hope you agree one day another new religion with a new prophet will also have their own view. Could be tomorrow. I believe the Ahmadiyya came about only 40 years after Bahai, so i guess it can happen at anytime.

Baha'u'llah explains this problem, which is illustrated in 50:20. Baha'u'llah shows how in this verse Muhammad is showing the reader that not only is the day of judgement symbolic, but it occured in Muhammad's own time! More accurately, the day of judgement will happen, but also happened when Muhammad started His Revelation. Baha'u'llah points to how the Muslim commentartors suggested that the word idhá (if or when) was meant to be in this verse but was accidentally left out. In trying to say that this word is left out, they are attempting to prove that 50:20 is not meant literally. This is an example of the symbolism vs. literalism not being obvious to the reader (though the reader tells himself that it's obvious)—though Baha'u'llah now makes its meaning obvious:


BW, again i have searched everywhere and cannot for the life of me find anywhere that it states that any Muslim suggest that the word Idha was meant to be in the verse. The only place i find this is in Bahai sources!
Not anywhere do i find that Muslims have said this is symbolic rather than literal! Except ofcourse in Bahai sources.

So would a Muslim rely on a Bahai source? Would you as a Bahai rely on a Muslim source?

I dont understand why any Muslim would even suggest that verse 50:20 is not literal. Just read the verses before and after 50:20 and you will see what context it is in. Have you even read the Surah? If not read it and see for yourself what it is referring to.

It is talking about the disbelievers denying the resurrection:

[Pickthal 50:2] Nay, but they marvel that a warner of their own hath come unto them; and the disbelievers say: This is a strange thing:
[Pickthal 50:3] When we are dead and have become dust (shall we be brought back again)? That would be a far return!
[Pickthal 50:4] We know that which the earth taketh of them, and with Us is a recording Book.
[Pickthal 50:5] Nay, but they have denied the truth when it came unto them, therefore they are now in troubled case.


It then continues to talk about how Allah has created everything around them such as the sky, earth, mountains, and how water is sent down to grow gardens and crops which the water is able to revive the dead land. It then explains that so would they resurrect the dead.
Since the unbelievers found it hard to believe that Allah is able to bring them back from the dead, the Quran shows that just like Allah can bring back the dead land, He can also bring back the dead. Verses:

[Pickthal 50:6] Have they not then observed the sky above them, how We have constructed it and beautified it, and how there are no rifts therein?
[Pickthal 50:7] And the earth have We spread out, and have flung firm hills therein, and have caused of every lovely kind to grow thereon,
[Pickthal 50:8] A vision and a reminder for every penitent slave.
[Pickthal 50:9] And We send down from the sky blessed water whereby We give growth unto gardens and the grain of crops,
[Pickthal 50:10] And lofty date-palms with ranged clusters,
[Pickthal 50:11] Provision (made) for men; and therewith We quicken a dead land. Even so will be the resurrection of the dead.


The next verses talk about the denial of the messengers of Noahs people, tribe of Thamud, etc and then mentions how the threat came into effect, eg Noahs people were drowned. Verses:

[Pickthal 50:12] The folk of Noah denied (the truth) before them, and (so did) the dwellers at Ar-Rass and (the tribe of) Thamud,
[Pickthal 50:13] And (the tribe of) A'ad, and Pharaoh, and the brethren of Lot,
[Pickthal 50:14] And the dwellers in the wood, and the folk of Tubb'a: every one denied their messengers, therefor My threat took effect.
[Pickthal 50:15] Were We then worn out by the first creation? Yet they are in doubt about a new creation.


Quran then refers to how Allah has created man and therefore will know everything about us. We have two Receivers/Angels/Observer that are seated on the left and right of us and no matter what we say, the Observer is ready to take it down. Verses:

[Pickthal 50:16] We verily created man and We know what his soul whispereth to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.
[Pickthal 50:17] When the two Receivers receive (him), seated on the right hand and on the left,
[Pickthal 50:18] He uttereth no word but there is with him an observer ready.


NEXT.....The Quran tells us that death will then come to us. It then explains what will happen when we are dead. It is said to us "this is that which thou wast wont to shun" meaning that was it death that we wanted to escape from. And then, the trumpet is blown and the threatened day has come. Verses:

[Pickthal 50:19] And the agony of death cometh in truth. (And it is said unto him): This is that which thou wast wont to shun.
[Pickthal 50:20] And the trumpet is blown. This is the threatened Day.
[Pickthal 50:21] And every soul cometh, along with it a driver and a witness.
[Pickthal 50:22] (And unto the evil-doer it is said): Thou wast in heedlessness of this. Now We have removed from thee thy covering, and piercing is thy sight this day.
[Pickthal 50:23] And (unto the evil-doer) his comrade saith: This is that which I have ready (as testimony).


When reading these verses it is plain and simple to see what context verse 20 is in!
The Quran is explaining first hand, what is happening to us when we are dead. Once the trumpet is blown, we will rise.

You have explained it totally out of context. As you can see from the verses when reading before and after, it is a description. Just reading that verse without placing it in the correct context, then YES, it would seem that the Quran is saying the threatened day is now! But, read the verses before and after it and you can see what context it is meant to be placed in!

There is no need for the word Idha and i cannot understand why any Muslim would say that word is missing! And i cannot understand why there would even be a need for the verse to be interpreted as symbolic.

Im using your advice by reading the verses beforehand, so i suggest you do the same. Anyone can take something out of context by reading one verse and interpreting it alone.

Yes, as I have just shown. There will be no literal day of judgement. The lesser day of judgement was the Bab's revelation, and the greater day of judgement is Baha'u'llah's. In 50:20, the reader is told that a day of judgement has already occured. Because, at the time of Muhammad, He quickened the ignorant and wayward from the death of ignorance to the life of knowledge (Islam).


So I have shown that it is literal.

And so the Muslims who are waiting for the "end of days" day of judgement will be waiting for a very, very, very long time—perhaps until the sun does actually hit the earth—unless they read the Koran with the understanding that Baha'u'llah has provided.


Unless they read the verse in context, people will then understand that it is
literal and not symbolic. Referring to one verse and interpreting it alone is very misleading.

If, for example, a verse mentions "there is no God except the Idols" then do you just interpret that without looking at the previous verse and determine what context it is in? Ofcourse not! The previous verse may have mentioned that this is the Idolators way of thinking.

Again, the verse shows that the day of judgement is figurative. Therefore, many Muslims—except for the ones that read Baha'u'llah's explanation and realized the real meaning of verses—decided like every other religion in the past to hold on to their cherished literal interpretation. 50:20 is literal, that is, Baha'u'llah isn't even showing any symbolic meaning. The verse itself is literal. Again, the verse says:

"There WAS a blast on the trumpet" = the day of judgement at the time of Muhammad.

"It IS the threatened Day" = It is the day of judgement.

"And every soul IS summoned to a reckoning."


Already explained above....

This is going back to an old discussion. You rejected the idea that the Koran says that you can't see God. Whereas most other Muslims know that this verse means that you can't see God. Second of all, unless you actually read Baha'u'llah's Writings and follow His logic, you won't understand why the verse refers to a Manifestation of God. But this is from an old discussion, and I already gave you Baha'u'llah's explanation. If you read the Iqan you will come by it again.


No i said im not aware that we cant see God but explained that even if we cant, doesnt mean we cant meet God.

This may be Bahaullahs logic, but it obviously differs from the Quran's logic since no other verse in the Quran speaks of something in a context and then all of a sudden is changed into another context. But as you said, this was from an old discussion and we'll leave the past in the past.

If God can raise the dead, and make the stars fall, etc., then why can't He protect the Mahdi? He's coming back in the most miraculous of ways anyway, so God might as well also protect him.


Being victorous doesnt mean you must live on. Why is it unbelievable that the Mahdi cant be killed after being victorious?? It could be after 50 years or just after a day. At the end, the Mahdi would still be victorious!

Its like saying that why didnt God protect Bahullah? After all, He is a Manifestation of God and the return of Jesus. But im sure you would claim that Bahaullah was still victorious even though he was killed?

Heck, in the resurrection other people are coming back to life. Are any of these resurrected men better than the Mahdi? Or maybe it is assumed that the Mahdi is killed then is resurrected like the rest. Hmm....


First of all you need to understand that to the Shia Muslims, the Mahdi did not die but rather is in occultation.
Secondly, everyone will be resurrected. Including the Mahdi. Including the Prophets. Including YOU. ;)

No, it's just a term. He's not materially God. That would be impossible, given that the Koran says that you can't see God.


Well i dont understand it. So is he spiritually God? Is that why you claim that he sent Prophets before him?? Im really getting confused with the term manifestation! :?

PROPHESIES WHICH STATE THAT ANOTHER WILL COME AFTER BAHA'U'LLAH LIKE MUHAMMAD BRINGING HIS OWN BOOK, AND HIS OWN REVELATION


Now, instead of quoting everything you have written under this title, im just going to quote the above.

In regards to the Hadith, once again i cannot find your information anywhere accept in the Bahai websites. This is obviously one problem.
The second problem is that the Bahai sources do not contain the whole Hadith, therefore, this again could be taken out of context.

So, in order to respond to your assumptions, could you please refer me to the Authentic Hadith so i can read it in the correct context? Thanks mate.

Obviously i cannot rely on just ONE passage since, as shown previously, it seems everything is taken out of context. Especially since there is Hadith where the Prophet Muhammad mentions: "The chain of Messengers and Prophets has come to an end. There shall be no Messenger nor Prophet after me." You can search the following for references- Ref: Tirmidhi, Kitab-ur-Rouya Babu Zahab-un- Nubuwwa, Musnad Ahmad, Marwiyat-Anas bin Malik
So if this Hadith is saying another messenger, then there is a contradiction between hadiths. But then again, it depends on which Hadiths you would claim Authentic.

Anyway, I remember hearing something about the Imam Mahdi bringing a book with Him. Whilst you find me the Authentic Hadith that Bahaullah is referring to, ill do some research regarding the book that the Mahdi is bringing with him(that is, if He is bringing a book). Thanks matey! :)

At least you are doing what you were instructed to do, Abbas, which is hastening to Baha'u'llah since He has made the claim. I applaud you on that, Abbas. Many Muslims don't even do that.


Thanks champ. Its helping me learn more about your faith and mine, so i dont see any negatives in it. :D

Now you must study the IQAN...read it more than once if you have to...as Baha'u'llah might very well be the Messenger of God that you are waiting for. Until you read the Iqan all the way through, you won't clearly understand Baha'u'llah's relation to your prophesies.


I promise you i will read it all the way through. :o

Thank you Abbas. A man can only take so much organic chemistry...


Organice Chemistry??? Man, i dont know how you do it! I made sure i stayed away from chemistry ALL together!! :D

Regards
Abbas

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 11:47 am
by Dorumerosaer
Why does God state some things in the Holy Books in symbolic language?

"Know verily that the purpose underlying all these symbolic terms and abstruse allusions, which emanate from the Revealers of God's holy Cause, hath been to test and prove the peoples of the world; that thereby the earth of the pure and illuminated hearts may be known from the perishable and barren soil. From time immemorial such hath been the way of God amidst His creatures, and to this testify the records of the sacred books." (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 49)

Do Baha'is believe that only the Holy Books when referring to Baha'u'llah and the Bab have spoken in symbolic terms, or do the Baha'i Teachings state that the Prophets who have come before were also spoken of in symbolic terms? For example, did Jesus Christ speak in the Bible of Muhammad in symbolic terms?

Yes, He did. In the Book of Certitude Baha'u'llah interprets the promise in the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 24) that Jesus will come on the clouds, with angels, and a trumpet blast, to mean the appearance of the Prophet Muhammad on earth. After explaining the symbolic and not literal meaning of these Gospel verses, Baha'u'llah criticizes the Christian clergy, who deprived the people of the bounties God sent in the Islamic Dispensation:

"Inasmuch as the Christian divines have failed to apprehend the meaning of these words, and did not recognize their object and purpose, and have clung to the literal interpretation of the words of Jesus, they therefore became deprived of the streaming grace of the Muhammadan Revelation and its showering bounties. The ignorant among the Christian community, following the example of the leaders of their faith, were likewise prevented from beholding the beauty of the King of glory, inasmuch as those signs which were to accompany the dawn of the sun of the Muhammadan Dispensation did not actually come to pass." (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 26)

"As the adherents of Jesus have never understood the hidden meaning of these words, and as the signs which they and the leaders of their Faith have expected have failed to appear, they therefore refused to acknowledge, even until now, the truth of those Manifestations of Holiness that have since the days of Jesus been made manifest. They have thus deprived themselves of the outpourings of God's holy grace, and of the wonders of His divine utterance. Such is their low estate in this, the Day of Resurrection! They have even failed to perceive that were the signs of the Manifestation of God in every age to appear in the visible realm in accordance with the text of established traditions, none could possibly deny or turn away, nor would the blessed be distinguished from the miserable, and the transgressor from the God-fearing. Judge fairly: Were the prophecies recorded in the Gospel to be literally fulfilled; were Jesus, Son of Mary, accompanied by angels, to descend from the visible heaven upon the clouds; who would dare to disbelieve, who would dare to reject the truth, and wax disdainful? Nay, such consternation would immediately seize all the dwellers of the earth that no soul would feel able to utter a word, much less to reject or accept the truth. It was owing to their misunderstanding of these truths that many a Christian divine hath objected to Muhammad, and voiced his protest in such words: "If Thou art in truth the promised Prophet, why then art Thou not accompanied by those angels our sacred Books foretold, and which must needs descend with the promised Beauty to assist Him in His Revelation and act as warners unto His people?" Even as the All-Glorious hath recorded their statement: "Why hath not an angel been sent down to him, so that he should have been a warner with Him?"[Qur'án 25:7]. Such objections and differences have persisted in every age and century. The people have always busied themselves with such specious discourses, vainly protesting: "Wherefore hath not this or that sign appeared?" Such ills befell them only because they have clung to the ways of the divines of the age in which they lived, and blindly imitated them in accepting or denying these Essences of Detachment, these holy and divine Beings." (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 81)

On page 212 of the Book of Certitude, Baha'u'llah describes the belief that no new Prophet will come, and that all future Prophets will endorse the laws brought by the previous Prophet, as a spiritual disease. Most of humanity is afflicted with the spiritual disease of literally interpreting the Holy Books. They clothe their disease in robes, and in self-righteousness. They say "If a verse is capable of being interpreted literally, it should be." This is a false, man-made doctrine, having no scriptural support. It deprived the people of the West of the Revelation of Muhammad; and now it is depriving the people of the world of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah.

Brent

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 1:12 pm
by brettz9
Thank you Brent for adding that to the discussion as well, bringing the historical perspective. We have in fact been thrrough this all before (thus also hinting to another truth established in the Iqan--the Return).

While I haven't read everything in BW's and Abbas' back-and-forth discussion, it seems that one thing may be escaping each side.

It is possible that in some cases the symbolism should be clear, and in other cases it is not.

Baha'u'llah also rejected cases such as where people chose to twist the Scriptures in their belief to escape the need to follow the Manifestation/His laws--explaining things away as being symbolic is one way to do this. But if everything were so clear, we wouldn't need any guidance at all. We could just reason on our own instead of rely on any Manifestation's Book.

Abbas, one thing I might add too, is that just because something wasn't mentioned in the Qur'an (at least explicitly) does not mean it was not important. The Scriptures may not have taught all the details from childhood up of the Manifestations, but it does not mean they did not experience Their lives at this time. Same thing with doctrine. Not everything would or could be explicitly spelled out for us.

Now, I also wanted to share this fascinating pilgrim's note I recently came across. In it, I think it gives a marvelous explanation of not only the general nature of tests brought by the figuratively-intended Scriptures, but also delves quite a bit into the fundamental psychology behind WHY people do not accept them symbolically--something which was quite helpful to me. Along the lines of this explanation, I think one can also see and must admit that there is quite a range of nuance in the idea of the Scriptures testing people. Though it is in a sense black-and-white (as that is motivational for us), it is also quite subtle; people do not, as we know, reject the Scriptures because they are utterly evil (we all have evil, but my meaning is that people who fail to study the newest Scriptures are far from all being bloodthirsty manipulators or whatever else a black-and-white perspective might take).

“When you give the Message of this Manifestation many say, 'This is nothing new—I prefer the home of my old religious belief which has been so serviceable and trustworthy.'”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered:

...

“Many people, likewise, who hear the Message are deprived of its Glory because they receive it from one whom they deem less competent to know than themselves. The Word of God is revealed according to the degree of Spiritual Sight, no matter who the messenger may be. Again, people do not receive the Manifestation of God because they are veiled by their imaginations. Imagination is one of our greatest powers and a most difficult one to rule. Imagination is the father of superstition. For example, two men are dear friends. They love each other so much they never wish to be parted. Yet when one of them dies, the other through fear dreads to be alone with the one he cared so much for in life. His imagination controls him and fills him with fear and horror. We are led astray by imagination, even in violation of will and reason. It is our test power. We are tested by our ability to control and subdue it. A man imagines he is wealthy. Some day real wealth comes to him, but it is never what he imagined it would be. Imagination is our greatest misleader. We hold to it until it becomes fixed in memory. Then we hold to it the stronger, believing it to be fact. It is a great power of the soul but without value unless rightly controlled and guided. Through imagination men receive a distorted view of a former Manifestation and are prevented from recognizing and accepting the Truth and Reality of the present one. They are veiled from the Light and Glory of God by imagination. These veils prevent the true Light from entering the soul. Therefore, men follow the false light of their imaginations and cling to error instead of truth. Thus the Egyptians were veiled from the Light of God in Moses. The Jews were veiled from the Glory of Jesus simply because they did not know Moses rightly and so were blinded to the one He promised would come after Him. Today Jews, Muhammadans, and Christians, not seeing the former Manifestation with true vision, are veiled from the Glory of God in Bahá‘u’lláh. One of the greatest veils is literal interpretation of the prophecies. Again, many refuse the Manifestation in His Day because they do not want to walk the hard road of devotion and servitude, but prefer the easy road of hereditary belief. Misconception of the Word of God and its meanings is another great veil which imagination throws over the soul and by which the Light is lost. Also, people inherit their belief from parents and ancestors and follow it blindly, too negligent to know and see for themselves. Negligence and apathy are heavy 'veils of Glory.' Read Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl’s book of Bahá’í Proofs, and you will find irresistible evidence of this Manifestation.[2] Will is the center or focus of human understanding. We must will to know God, just as we must will in order to possess the life He has given us. The human will must be subdued and trained into the Will of God. It is a great power to have a strong will, but a greater power to give that will to God. The will is what we do, the understanding is what we know. Will and understanding must be one in the Cause of God. Intention brings attainment.”

(Unauthenticated "pilgrim's note" at http://www.bahai-library.com/books/tend ... ation.html )

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 2:07 pm
by brettz9
I see in glancing at Abbas' last post, that you/he are still maintaining that you cannot believe God would not make His symbolism explicit (at least within the Scriptures that bring up the symbolism). Although the Iqan does provide evidence of this, as do our other Writings that evidence does exist within the Qur'an and Bible as to their symbolic nature, to address your point now about it not being explicit, consider a puzzle that a parent may buy for their child.

Although the puzzle should not be too difficult, so as to put him in despair, if the puzzle is too easy, it will be of little pleasure to the child, and he will quickly become bored with it. And if there is always a cheat sheet included in the box on exactly how to assemble the puzzle (or win the video game), it may also become boring for the inquisitive and often challenge-seeking mind God has given us.

Now, although our Writings would also agree with you that the meaning is available for those who seek it out (and thus we don't need a class of clergy to tell us the meanings), there are unquestionably some abstruse passages that are truly bewildering to someone with any humility.

By your saying that God cannot test humanity in this way by providing mysterious and perplexing Scriptures (including those that span for generations or across Dispensations), you are saying both that God cannot do as He wills (and that it is not for Him to test us, but for us to test Him) and that God is inadequately Merciful by providing us with a boring list of recipes to follow.

God is not limited to plant puzzles for us within His grand creation that can be easily solved all at once. If He were, then some must have already solved all its mysteries and exhausted its meaning (in other words, they have either understood all creation if the Qur'an encompasses it--as we Baha'is believe--or God forbid, the Qur'an is a circumscribed book).

On the contrary, as our Writings now make clear (and passages in the Qur'an can surely be found to confirm this), it is a joy and mercy to us to have the opportunity to stand in awe and wonder at Him, and not be able to grasp it all, even while we inevitably struggle (as we should) to try to grasp as much as we can....

Or to look at it another way, if, as you say, we need to read the whole context of the Qur'an, then what did the followers of Muhammad do before He had finished revealing the whole Qur'an? Or what did the followers of Jesus do before the Qur'an was revealed?

Or, even just take the "book" of your own life. Has God never given you a test where you could not easily and immediately understand its wisdom?

take care,
Brett

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 3:54 pm
by Baha'i Warrior
Abbas, Brett and Pilgrimbrent both make good points, and you should try to see that what they are saying is logical.

Again, Abbas, let's go back to the quote by Baha'u'llah:

    Abú-`Abdi'lláh, questioned concerning the character of the Mihdí, answered saying: "He will perform that which Muhammad, the Messenger of God, hath performed, and will demolish whatever hath been before Him even as the Messenger of God hath demolished the ways of those that preceded Him."...

    In the "Aválím," an authoritative and well-known book, it is recorded: "A Youth from Baní-Háshim shall be made manifest, Who will reveal a new Book and promulgate a new law;" then follow these words: "Most of His enemies will be the divines."...

    In another passage, it is related of Sádiq, son of Muhammad, that he spoke the following: "There shall appear a Youth from Baní-Háshim, Who will bid the people plight fealty unto Him. His Book will be a new Book, unto which He shall summon the people to pledge their faith. Stern is His Revelation unto the Arab. If ye hear about Him, hasten unto Him." How well have they followed the directions of the Imáms of the Faith and Lamps of certitude! Although it is clearly stated: "Were ye to hear that a Youth from Baní-Háshim hath appeared, summoning the people unto a new and Divine Book, and to new and Divine laws, hasten unto Him," yet have they all declared that Lord of being an infidel, and
    pronounced Him a heretic...

    And now, consider this other tradition, and observe how all these things have been foretold. In "Arbá'in" it is recorded: "Out of Baní-Háshim there shall come forth a Youth Who shall reveal new laws. He shall summon the people unto Him, but none will heed His call. Most of His enemies will be the divines. His bidding they will not obey, but will protest saying: `This is contrary to that which hath been handed down unto us by the Imáms of the Faith.'" In this day, all are repeating these very same words, utterly unaware that He is established upon the throne of "He doeth whatsoever He willeth," and abideth upon the seat of "He ordaineth whatsoever He pleaseth."
    -- Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 240-243


The Aválím is hadith that all Shi'as' have to believe in. Yes, the quote is cited by Baha'u'llah. But you should not have a hard time finding the Aválím yourself. I'm not here to sell you the Baha'i Faith, I'm just pointing you to the Baha'i teachings and proofs. So if you really, really are interested in knowing if Baha'u'llah is a Messenger of God or not, and if you want want to do what you are instructed to do as a Shia anyways, you should do some research yourself to come to a more informed conclusion.

The Surmon of the Gulf can also be easily found on Baha'i library. Search for it in Google and get a Muslim's translation if you want, but make sure to compare a few.

You say:

"What would make someone think that Allah(sw) is not capable of the resurrection? Now thats funny!"

You again are missing the point. Do you not understand that yes, I know God can do anything? But what I keep demonstrating to you is how Baha'u'llah illustrates how the Koran spells out what the Resurrection/Day of Judgement really is?

You say:

"When reading these verses it is plain and simple to see what context verse 20 is in! The Quran is explaining first hand, what is happening to us when we are dead. Once the trumpet is blown, we will rise."

No, there is no "idhá" in that verse like I said, so no, 50:20 it is not discussing the future. You may want to study my post again. And you should take some time to find out more about "idhas" to get a better understanding.

Easy for you to say that, despite the context, the phrase "O Children of Adam" in 7:35 makes a prophesy of a new Messenger of God only restricted to those before Muhammad. Again, despite the context (i.e. the verse above that one, 7:34) which states that every day has its own Revelation. Yet when, in this case, 50:20 is interpreted literally, since there is no idha—which can mean it is not referring to the future—in this case you decide to talk about the preceding verses to clarify 50:20. Now if that isn't "suiting your own needs," then I don't know what is!

You say:

"You have explained it totally out of context. As you can see from the verses when reading before and after, it is a description. Just reading that verse without placing it in the correct context, then YES, it would seem that the Quran is saying the threatened day is now! But, read the verses before and after it and you can see what context it is meant to be placed in!"

And I should point out, I was summarizing what Baha'u'llah says, and according to you, Baha'u'llah—God's Messenger for today—is taking the Koran out of context. And you haven't even read the Koran all the way through! Nor are you familiar with any of the debates I have referred to, and the corresponding hadith! Come on Abbas, I don't know what you are trying to accomplish. If it's to show Baha'u'llah was wrong, and that there will be not be another Revelation after Islam, then you have failed miserably. If it's to demonstrate with the hadith show that there will be no other Messengers of God, then also you have failed. Showing me one mere, obviously fabricated hadith won't cancel out all the many hadith (especially the ones that Baha'u'llah points to) that are from well-known and accepted sources by Shia's. At least read/study the Koran first before making outlandish statements like God's Messenger doesn't know what the Koran is talking about. He it is who, in the spirit of Muhammad, originally produced the Koran, and has now produced superior books to it!

But I don't blame you, since the hadith state that there will be many opposed to God's Messenger. And we know that they will also kill the Mihdi, as they did. So it is no surprise that you are resisting Baha'u'llah's and Baha'is' interpretation of the Koran. You are just helping fulfill the prophesies even more.

AND BACK TO your rhetorical question, which has been stated many a time:

"Why would Allah confuse us? Why would it not be explained simply?"

If you are trying to make us say, That's right, then all the passages in the Koran must be obvious since God doesn't want to confuse us, then obviously you need to read your Koran all the way through. From Adam onward, the majority of men have always been confused. Why? Because, as the Koran says, "THEY PERVERT THE TEXT OF THE WORD OF GOD." And if this didn't apply to Muslims, then there would have been an explicit statement saying so, which there sure isn't :!:. Also, we wouldn't have reliable hadith saying that the worst enemies of God's new Faith will be the Muslims. Weren't the worst enemies of the Christians the Jews? Same with Islam my friend. Not according to the Baha'i Writings, but according to Muslim hadith and parabolic verses in the Koran.

Trust me Abbas, it takes work to find the Truth. It isn't obvious, and it never was, and it never will be. And the Koran doesn't say otherwise. If everything was so obvious to any ordinary joe, then there would have been no point to this life. Do you know why God put us in this life instead of just letting us all start out in Paradise? To get a better understanding of life in general and our purpose, for Today the only Source we should turn to is God's new Book, which is prophesied in your hadith. Don't ignore your own hadith, my friend.

Take care,

Warrior

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 9:48 pm
by choogue
Guys,

You are misunderstanding what i am saying again. I am not saying the Quran is clear. I am saying that the someone can clearly differentiate between the symbolic and literal verses. This doesnt mean that the interpretations are clear, but just the differentiation between the two.

Yes God test humans with symbolic AND literal verses. The interpretations of the verses. This is the test. Look at how many new religions have come out after Islam because there are different interpretations of the verses. This is why the difference between the symbolic and literal are clear to differentiate. Ofcourse there will always be someone who will take the symbolic verses and change them as literal and vice verse.

Again the example, anyone can take the literal verse of "eating the flesh of swine" and change it to symbolic. Since the verse is clear that its not symbolic, the majority of the people will have enough sense to determine this.

The Aválím is hadith that all Shi'as' have to believe in. Yes, the quote is cited by Baha'u'llah. But you should not have a hard time finding the Aválím yourself. I'm not here to sell you the Baha'i Faith, I'm just pointing you to the Baha'i teachings and proofs. So if you really, really are interested in knowing if Baha'u'llah is a Messenger of God or not, and if you want want to do what you are instructed to do as a Shia anyways, you should do some research yourself to come to a more informed conclusion.

The Surmon of the Gulf can also be easily found on Baha'i library. Search for it in Google and get a Muslim's translation if you want, but make sure to compare a few.


All im saying is that for some reason i cannot find it on the net, but if it is authentic Hadith then im sure i will find it in our library.

I have searched on google and cant find them. Thats all im saying, so therefore i cant read them to determine what context its in. Once i find them ill read them and tell you my thoughts. But if you do find an Islamic source, let me know anyway.

You say:

"What would make someone think that Allah(sw) is not capable of the resurrection? Now thats funny!"

You again are missing the point. Do you not understand that yes, I know God can do anything? But what I keep demonstrating to you is how Baha'u'llah illustrates how the Koran spells out what the Resurrection/Day of Judgement really is?


Yes but you also mentioned that you find it unbelievable that we can be resurrected, so what i am demonstrating is that since we can be initially created, then why cant we be re-created?

No, there is no "idhá" in that verse like I said, so no, 50:20 it is not discussing the future. You may want to study my post again. And you should take some time to find out more about "idhas" to get a better understanding.


Yes there is no need for "idha" in that verse because we are been placed in that first person view. It is obvious when you read the previous verses which i demonstrated with explanantions. You should read the Surah.

Easy for you to say that, despite the context, the phrase "O Children of Adam" in 7:35 makes a prophesy of a new Messenger of God only restricted to those before Muhammad. Again, despite the context (i.e. the verse above that one, 7:34) which states that every day has its own Revelation. Yet when, in this case, 50:20 is interpreted literally, since there is no idha—which can mean it is not referring to the future—in this case you decide to talk about the preceding verses to clarify 50:20. Now if that isn't "suiting your own needs," then I don't know what is!


Umm....no thats not suiting my own needs. I think its more suiting your own needs since your only interpreting ONE verse. You cant just take one verse and interpret it. You need to read the previous verses to understand what the Quran is talking about. Ive given you an example before. If a verse contains "there is no God, only the idols", would you take just that verses and interpret it?? Ofcourse not! You must read the previous verses!! Otherwise by only taking one verse and interpreting it alone, a person will be suiting your own interest and say "see there is no God". So it is obvious to read what context the verse is in before jumping to conclusions.

50:19 shows that we are in our graves when we are asked if death is what we are escaping from and then the verse continues to 50:20 where we are still in the grave and the threatened day has come.

If you dont read the previous verse you would not realise that we are in the first person view where the angel of death is talking to us and we are responding. We are projected as if it is the present time. You cant just read 50:20 by itself otherwise you miss the point.

And I should point out, I was summarizing what Baha'u'llah says, and according to you, Baha'u'llah—God's Messenger for today—is taking the Koran out of context. And you haven't even read the Koran all the way through!


Regardless but i am referring to the Quran and It is explaining itself.

Nor are you familiar with any of the debates I have referred to, and the corresponding hadith!


You are showing me bits of Hadith. Doesnt matter whether i know of it because i can always read it. And from experience, it seems that everything is taken out of context. So what would make me think this isnt either?

Come on Abbas, I don't know what you are trying to accomplish. If it's to show Baha'u'llah was wrong, and that there will be not be another Revelation after Islam, then you have failed miserably. If it's to demonstrate with the hadith show that there will be no other Messengers of God, then also you have failed. Showing me one mere, obviously fabricated hadith won't cancel out all the many hadith (especially the ones that Baha'u'llah points to) that are from well-known and accepted sources by Shia's.


I am trying to prove to myself and so far BW i have not failed at all because im reading all the verses you provide within the correct context. You are taking them totally out of context. Anyone can take a verse out of context without referring to the previous ones. Thats why there will be more new religions because people change things to suit themselves.

So the Hadith that i would show that would contradict you would be fabricated? Is it only to the Bahais that its fabricated or to Muslims aswell? Is this a matter of 'picking and choosing'? Ill tell you what, provide me with the names of all the Hadith that Bahaullah does take as authentic then.

BW, you cannot make a statement that i have failed. I may have failed to understand how someone can take something out of context, but i havent failed to see how things should be taken in the correct context.

At least read/study the Koran first before making outlandish statements like God's Messenger doesn't know what the Koran is talking about. He it is who, in the spirit of Muhammad, originally produced the Koran, and has now produced superior books to it!


So Bahaullah was the spirit in Muhammad?

I will read and study the Quran, but from what your showing me, i have to make sure i take verses out of context when im reading it.

But I don't blame you, since the hadith state that there will be many opposed to God's Messenger. And we know that they will also kill the Mihdi, as they did. So it is no surprise that you are resisting Baha'u'llah's and Baha'is' interpretation of the Koran. You are just helping fulfill the prophesies even more.


Again, i can turn this around. Actually the Ahmadiyya can also turn this statement around cant they?

Trust me Abbas, it takes work to find the Truth. It isn't obvious, and it never was, and it never will be. And the Koran doesn't say otherwise. If everything was so obvious to any ordinary joe, then there would have been no point to this life. Do you know why God put us in this life instead of just letting us all start out in Paradise? To get a better understanding of life in general and our purpose, for Today the only Source we should turn to is God's new Book, which is prophesied in your hadith. Don't ignore your own hadith, my friend.


Never said it was obvious. Im only saying the difference between symbolic and literal verses are obvious. You are changing what im saying.

Im not ignoring my own Hadith, which is why i want to know which Hadith Bahaullah has made un-authentic because there are many Hadiths that contradict what you are saying.

Regards
Abbas

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2006 2:37 am
by Baha'i Warrior
Reply deleted.

—BW

Posted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 7:36 pm
by British_Bahai
brettz9 wrote:
asal wrote:Why is is that WE, as Bahai's are not allowed to debate?...i mean religious debate!


Do you mean debate with people of other religions?

We are not allowed to argue:
Do not argue with anyone, and be wary of disputation. Speak out the truth. If your hearer accepteth, the aim is achieved. If he is obdurate, you should leave him to himself, and place your trust in God. Such is the quality of those who are firm in the Covenant.

('Abdu'l-Baha, From a Tablet- translated from the Persian, in http://bahai-library.com/?file=compilat ... ching#1926 )


But, we are also supposed to defend the Baha'i Faith:
If any man were to arise to defend, in his writings, the Cause of God against its assailants, such a man, however inconsiderable his share, shall be so honoured in the world to come that the Concourse on high would envy his glory. No pen can depict the loftiness of his station, neither can any tongue describe its splendour. For whosoever standeth firm and steadfast in this holy, this glorious, and exalted Revelation, such power shall be given him as to enable him to face and withstand all that is in heaven and on earth. Of this God is Himself a witness.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", section CLIV)


The difference is that in one, we are shouting our opinions to prove ourselves right. In the other, we are attempting to make clear the truth and are open to seeking truth we may have missed.

Baha'is would be quite mistaken to say that we aren't supposed to make rational arguments (i.e., argument as in reasoning used for persuasion, not as in fighting with words). I'll give several quotations here because I hope it may be enough to convince Baha'is otherwise of the need for us to study proofs and not shy away from teaching the Faith to those from other religions (or of no religion at all) who need these proofs. There are even more quotations on the subject than this, but here are a few.

“In this day there is nothing more important than the instruction and study of clear proofs and convincing, heavenly arguments, for therein lie the source of life and the path of salvation”

('Abdu’l-Bahá, The Importance of Deepening Our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith , p. 22)


“In this age peoples of the world need the arguments of reason”

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, Chapter 3)


“As that Light of Reality (Bahá’u’lláh) has set, all are in need of proofs of the truth of His claim”

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, Chapter 10)


"It is imperative to acquire the knowledge of divine proofs and evidences...This matter is highly important. It is binding on everyone and must be regarded as an obligation."

('Abdu’l-Bahá, from a newly translated Tablet, Pearls of Wisdom : The Importance of Deepening Our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith , p. 21)


“Every subject presented to a thoughtful audience must be supported by rational proofs and logical arguments.”

(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 253)


I'll try to get to your other question later.

best wishes,
Brett


Nice choice of quotes.

I'm deliberately commenting, to "refresh" this thread, incase if anyone was looking for similar quotes.

Re: Symbolic = Confusion????

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 11:15 am
by BruceDLimber
As to why so much is symbolic, especially in older religions there are many metaphors and things that, if taken literally, will quickly yield nonsense!

More recent religions have less of this, and in the Baha'i scriptures, such symbolism is largely confined to mystical works such as The Seven Valleys.

It's a matter, I'd cay, of how much we're capable of truly understanding in each Age. . . .

Best regards, :-)

Bruce

Re: Symbolic = Confusion????

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 1:45 pm
by British_Bahai
BruceDLimber wrote:As to why so much is symbolic, especially in older religions there are many metaphors and things that, if taken literally, will quickly yield nonsense!

More recent religions have less of this, and in the Baha'i scriptures, such symbolism is largely confined to mystical works such as The Seven Valleys.

It's a matter, I'd cay, of how much we're capable of truly understanding in each Age. . . .

Best regards, :-)

Bruce
Yes, very true.

Also, for those of you who are new to the Faith: (1)it has been written in the Bahai writings that as time progresses, not only does humanity progress materially (i.e. an increase in technology) but also spiritually (I dont have the quote at hand). So a lot of symbolicism has been used because that gets the message across simply.

(2)But in the case of the Seven Valleys, it was specifically written like that because it is a reply to somebody's question (Shaykh MuhyidDin - who was a student of Sufi philosophy [as far as i know, Sufi is basically a movement within Islam and they used mysticism])