When is a Baha'i not a Baha'i?(II)

All research or scholarship questions
anonyM

When is a Baha'i not a Baha'i?(II)

Postby anonyM » Tue Jan 20, 2004 9:48 pm

Are there circumstances when a person should, of his/her own volition, stop refering to themselves as a Baha'i?

Rob

Postby Rob » Tue Jan 20, 2004 11:43 pm

Allow me to share a few pertainent quotes from the Baha'i Writings which speak to this topic which may help answer your question :


"He is a true Baha'i who strives by day and by night to progress along the path of human endeavor, whose cherished desire is so to live and act as to enrich and illumine the world; whose source of inspiration is the essence of Divine Perfection, whose aim in life is to conduct himself so as to be the cause of infinite progress. Only when he attains unto such perfect gifts can it be said of him that he is a Baha'i."

'Abdu'l-Baha (Baha'i Revelation, p. 285)



"Regarding the very delicate and complex question of ascertaining the qualifications of a true believer, I cannot in this connection emphasize too strongly the supreme necessity for the exercise of the utmost discretion, caution and tact, whether it be in deciding for ourselves as to who may be regarded a true believer or in disclosing to the outside world such considerations as may serve as a basis for such a decision. I would only venture to state very briefly and as adequately as present circumstances permit the principal factors that must be taken into consideration before deciding whether a person may be regarded a true believer or not. Full recognition of the station of the Forerunner, the Author, and the True Exemplar of the Bahá'í Cause, as set forth in `Abdu'l-Bahá's Testament; unreserved acceptance of, and submission to, whatsoever has been revealed by their Pen; loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of our Beloved's sacred Will; and close association with the spirit as well as the form of the present day Bahá'í administration throughout the world--these I conceive to be the fundamental and primary considerations that must be fairly, discreetly and thoughtfully ascertained before reaching such a vital decision. Any attempt at further analysis and elucidation will, I fear, land us in barren discussions and even grave controversies that would prove not only futile but even detrimental to the best interests of a growing Cause. I would therefore strongly urge those who are called upon to make such a decision to approach this highly involved and ever-recurring problem with the spirit of humble prayer, and earnest consultation, and to refrain from drawing rigidly the line of demarcation except on such occasions when the interests of the Cause absolutely demand it."

Shoghi Effendi, p. 90 Baha'i Administration



"Indeed, the essential prerequisites of admittance into the Baha'i fold..... is the whole-hearted and unqualified acceptance by them all of the Divine origin of both Islam and Christianity, of the legitimacy of the institution of the Imamate, and of the primacy of St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. Such are the central, the solid, the incontrovertible principles that constitute the bedrock of Baha'i belief....."

Shoghi Effendi (The Promised Day is Come, p. 114)



"You have asked if the mere declaration of faith by a new-comer suffices to recognize him as a Baha'i, and whether living the Baha'i life should not be regarded as the basis of admission into the Faith. You should bear in mind that the signature on a card, in the sense that it represents a record of the date of the declaration and data about the declarant, is to satisfy administrative requirements enabling the enrollment of the new believer in the community. The deeper implications of the act of declaration of faith are between the individual and God. Shoghi Effendi has made several statements on this important subject, and we have been asked to share with you the following two excerpts from letters written on his behalf to individual believers:

'There is a difference between character and faith; it is often very hard to accept this fact and put up with it, but the fact remains that a person may believe and love the Cause - even to be ready to die for it - and yet not have a good personal character, or possess traits at variance with the teachings. We should try to change, to let the Power of God help recreate us and make us true baha'is in deed as well as in belief. But sometimes the process is slow, sometimes it never happens because the individual does not try hard enough. But these things cuse us suffering and are a test to us in our fellow-believers, most especially if we love thm and have been their teacher!'

'The process of becoming a Baha'i is necessarily slow and gradual. The essential is not that the beginner should have a full and detailed knowledge of the Cause, a thing that is obviously impossible in the vast majority of cases, but that he should, by an act of his own will, be willing to uphold and follow the truth and guidance set forth in the Teachings and thus open his heart and mind to the reality of the Manifestation.'

From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual, June 7, 1974 (Lights of Guidance pp. 57-8)



"The primary reason for anyone becoming a Baha'i must of course be because he has come to believe the doctrines, the teachings and the Order of Baha'u'llah are the correct thing for this stage in the world's evolution. The Baha'is themselves as a body have one great advantage; they are sinceely convinced Baha'ullah is right; they have a plan, and they are trying to follow it. But to pretend they are perfect, that the Baha'is of the future will not be a hundred times more mature, better balanced, more exemplary in their conduct, would be foolish."

Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effndi, July 5, 1947 (Lights of Guidance, pp. 56)



".... Allegiance to the Faith cannot be partial and half-hearted. Either we should accept the Cause without any qualification whatever, or cease calling ourselves Baha'is....it is not sufficient for them to accept some aspects of the teachings and reject those which cannot suit their mentality in order to become fully recognized and actrive followers of the Faith. In this way all sorts of misunderstandings will vanish and the organic unity of the Cause will be preserved."

Letter from Shoghi Effendi to an individual, June 12, 1933 (Lights of Guidance, p. 61)



"The acceptance of a person into the Baha'i community should be based not on whether he is leading an exemplary life, but on whether the Assembly is reasonably certain that he is sincere in his declaration of faith in Baha'u'llah and he knows of the laws which would affect his personal conduct, so that he does not enter the community under a misapprehension."

Universal House of Justice, April 19, 1981 (Lights of Guidance p. 521)

janine

Postby janine » Mon Jan 26, 2004 10:00 pm

according to these quotes i am way far from being a true bahai....

yet not being a bahai is not an option for me. There have been many times in the 20-something years since i declared that i wanted to unenroll myself, but everytime i asked myself: do i then not think Baha'u'llah is the Manifestation of God for this Day? i had to answer, no, i still believe He is.

so failing, stumbling, i go along, hoping that one day i will be able to do all the things He requires me to do. Because if nobody at least tries and risks failure, how on earth are His teachings going to be exemplified in people, and thus become apparent and thus the world sees that they work?

It is not an easy path, being a Bahai. I consider myself a follower of Baha'u'llah, accepting Him, and yet unable to do to the extend needed what the quotes in your post tell me to do.

For me being a bahai is that i try each day. That is all that i can offer God: my effort.

much love,

janine

Daniel

Postby Daniel » Mon Jan 26, 2004 10:02 pm

I believe that a person who loves Baha'u'llah and accepts absolutely everything that He has taught is a Baha'i.

I don't believe that we should disqualify ourselves simply because we have a difficult time living up to the standard that our Lord has given us. If anything we should further immerse ourselves in the prayers and holy Writings to beg His aid in overcoming our weaknesses.

The idea of self-disqualification is a cunning attack of the self on our love for God. Deep in our subconscious we must be well-aware that if we are no longer Baha'i then we no longer have to attempt to live up to a standard, so giving us an easy way out.

Would Neo in The Matrix have taken the 'blue pill' so he could "believe whatever he wanted to believe"? If he had done that he would have missed the experience of eventually becoming a super being.

Guest

Postby Guest » Mon Jan 26, 2004 10:18 pm

janine,

I also thought that believing Baha'u'llah to be the manifestation of God for today and obeying his precepts are the requisites for being a Baha'i.

I've recently found out there is more. You also have to limit your opinions and/or the expression of those opinions to what the UHJ deems to be appropriate. Otherwise, you may be 'unenrolled' as have been others in recent years.

janinev

Postby janinev » Tue Jan 27, 2004 7:57 pm

it depends i think on how you view this.

if i uphold an opinion and try to canvas, like we are so trained in and used to in the western world, for my opinion on public places like public email lists, public websites and public forums, i think something is wrong.

i think in that case i find my opinion more important apparently than that which will lead to truth, as the Master says, which is obedience to a decision made by an institution of the faith.
It also shows a total lack of trust in the consultative process, trust in the words of Baha'u'llah Who guarantees us that institutions like the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice are divinely guided.

if it was made clear to me that my opinion on a matter the Guardian had decided on was not in accordance with the decision the Guardian had made, i would then do research in the writings on what would be the appropriate attitude to deal with that decision. Undoubtedly i would come across the quote of Abdu'l-Baha which says that if a decision made by the institutions is the wrong one trut will be made manifest if the believers uphold that decision in a spirit of unity.
that would make me shut up, at least on public forums.

i would then do a further research, because i would feel pain, on how valid my opinion is. I have had to relinquish sometimes my opinion to the decision of an lsa or the company i work for and my God it is very painful, because i happen to be one of those people whose ego is quite strong and who is easily led to think that my opinion i sthe right one. That i am quite often proven right does not help it. But i am not always right, so i know also that my opinion is fallible.

in my view it is ridiculous to continue discussing a point the Guardian and/or the Universal House of Justice have already decided on. I cannot see anything good coming from it. I would rather focus my energies on something like what promotes unity and fellowship in my local community.

by the way, it might interest you that i was the person who took the initiative to ask why a particular bahai's name was taken from the rolls. the email i got in reply was shared with that person, who some time later and without asking my permission, posted it on a public website. I shared that email with that person out of a sense of fairness, who had not bothered to ask the universal house for clarification.
it may also be interested for you to know that i lost my faith in baha'u'llah for one whole day over this. i knew only one thing to do, and that was pray. so i prayed to God and was then inspired to do some research on the authority of the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice, on personal opinion versus obedience, on the power of consultation. I am still a Bahai and my faith in the Universal House of Justice and Baha'u'llah is stronger because of that 24 hours of crisis.

much love,

janine

janine

Postby janine » Tue Jan 27, 2004 8:02 pm

addition:

i asked for clarification on this issue of the universal house of justice, who replied to me and that email was on the website of this particular bahai, at least the last time i visited that website, which was 2 years ago.

what i usually do when the lsa does decide differently from what i think they should do is sulk for a bit indulging in thoughts like how i am not at all understood by the world, then go and complain to God about it, Who usually then gives me something to read which makes me realise that it does not matter, that it is just opinions, that if i uphold the decision, do not oppose it and so diffuse the energy which could have gone towards encouraging unity and harmony which will lead to true consultation and truth being revealed.

much love,

janine

Omid

when is a Baha'i not a Baha'i

Postby Omid » Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:14 pm

It seems if we surf the net enough we tend to find individual cases about how the House has "supressed" them or how they can't have an opinion or whatever. I'm a little embarrassed to see this happening. Has it ever occurred to any of these "free thinkers" that they could be wrong and they might not be right? Or what about the so called "God given rights" of free speech and so on? If Baha'is go around expressing critisism and being critical of certain House policies then that will only plant the seeds of doubt into people who cannot submitt and admitt that they might not know everything. If God told you what to think would you listen to him? If God told you what to say would you listen to him? Correct me if I am wrong here but is not the purpose of our existance to become united and to return unto God? Are we not supposed to be one with our creator? How dare I or anyone "strike out" on my own and press the validity of my opinion. If I had a choice of never speaking again I would.

The essence of true safety is to observe silence, to look at the end of things and to renounce the world."

Why? becuase its safer that way. May I note to some of you who might read this that the there is a period yet to come when the Faith will be brought into a public light and it will be attacked from all sides and people will critisize and praise. Abdul'Baha says something along the lines of the chatter of sparrows...or something.

Anyway, the people out there who accept Baha'u'llah yet are critical of the House should reflect as to why such policies are in place and why in fact that the individual has such a hard time with accepting this."

Here are some quotes I personally like to reflect on.

"Consider the pettiness of men's minds. They ask for that which injureth them, and cast away the thing that profiteth them. They are, indeed, of those that are far astray. We find some men desiring liberty, and priding themselves therein. Such men are in the depths of ignorance.

Liberty must, in the end, lead to sedition, whose flames none can quench. Thus warneth you He Who is the Reckoner, the All-Knowing. Know ye that the embodiment of liberty and its symbol is the animal. That which beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will protect him from his own ignorance, and guard him against the harm of the mischief-maker. Liberty causeth man to overstep the bounds of propriety, and to infringe on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to the level of extreme depravity and wickedness.

Regard men as a flock of sheep that need a shepherd for their protection. This, verily, is the truth, the certain truth. We approve of liberty in certain circumstances, and refuse to sanction it in others. We, verily, are the All-Knowing.

Say: True liberty consisteth in man's submission unto My commandments, little as ye know it. Were men to observe that which We have sent down unto them from the Heaven of Revelation, they would, of a certainty, attain unto perfect liberty. Happy is the man that hath apprehended the Purpose of God in whatever He hath revealed from the Heaven of His Will, that pervadeth all created things. Say: The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth. Whoso hath tasted of its sweetness will refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and heaven."

--Kitab-i-Aqdas

"The essence of understanding is to testify to one's poverty, and submit to the Will of the Lord, the Sovereign, the Gracious, the All-Powerful.


--Words of Wisdom

Guest

Postby Guest » Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:58 pm

Omid, Janine and my other dear Baha'i brothers and sisters,

I thank you for your views and thoughts. I hope to be able to offer something of value in return as we engage in consultaion on this difficult issue.

Janine, first I want to clear up the matter of the fwd'ing of emails. The email that you received was from the UHJ and not the NSA of NZ. And it is a 'form' letter that is sent to any Baha'i who makes enquiries regarding Alison's case. Because of this, Alison had received it from others who had likewise inquired about her case and she did nothing wrong in posting it on her site. Nothing wrong in the sense of violating your trust and nothing wrong in sharing with others what the UHJ is already readily sharing with Baha'is around the world.

Now I would like to move onto the real matter in this case. The station of the UHJ. We know from the Writings their station and position in the World Order of Baha'u'llah. They are not a source of Revelation, nor are they entrusted with the station or ability of Interpretation of the Word. And as you may know also, they can not change the Law of God. But must abide within it and its spirit in all their deliberations, actions and decisions. This they have been and will be inspired to do by the Almighty.

Therefore, there are limits. These limits are the values and morals of the Faith. The UHJ can not simply do what they please or as some put it "He verily willeth what He willeth." Such station is reserved for the Manifestation of God. One who reflects purely and perfectly the attributes of our Lord.

We have no right to question the Manifestation of God, just as we have no right to question the Source of Power. He is verily beyond comprehension and knowledge. However, the UHJ is not the Manifestation of God on earth, nor God on Earth. Unfortunately, many Baha'is who are not deepened or to put it crassly, ignorant, are not aware of this distinction.

Therefore, the decisions and actions of the UHJ have to reflect the values of the Baha'i Faith as well as beget comprehension by those on earth.

To suggest otherwise is to engage in theophany. A most egregious wrong.

What troubles me, is that the UHJ has not followed any course which shows they consulted, entered into dialogue or interacted with Alison -- either through the NSA or other institutions, or directly.

In fact, we know that Alison was not told at all that she was being 'investigated' for her expression of her thoughts. The NSA itself has shown that it did NOT meet with Alison as it was instructed to by the beloved UHJ. And even more sadly, the NSA did not inform the UHJ that they hadn't before the letter arrived from Haifa informing them of her removal. This shows that the UHJ did not have at hand all the pertinent information regarding this matter.

I shall leave the other details regarding the failure of the appointed institutions in contacting, dialoguing and consulting with Alison as they are many and already mentioned on her site.

The fact that Alison was not taken in to the loving arm of the institutions and counselled is most troubling for me. She was given no chance to first, know that what she had done was wrong. Second, she was given no chance to know the opinions of the UHJ or the NSA. Third, she was not given a chance to change her mind or consult about this issue with them. This, I can not believe, is the modus operandi of the Faith of God. In fact I know it is not.

The administration is instructed to lovingly and patiently talk, counsel and interact with those Baha'is who have doubts, questions and other concerns.

As the beloved Guardian of the Faith has so eloquently written in Baha'i Administration:

"Let us also remember that at the very root of the Cause lies the principle of the undoubted right of the individual to self-expression, his freedom to declare his conscience and set forth his views."

He then continues and adds,

"Let us also bear in mind that the keynote of the Cause of God is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation."


I hope that the above will be read and understood with its intended motivation of pure consultation and investigation of truth. May Baha'u'llah and the Host on High bless you and your loved ones.

Ya Baha'u'll - Abha!

janine

Postby janine » Wed Jan 28, 2004 6:28 pm

I refuse to discuss this matter further.

i know that this email is not a form email but was sent to me personally. i also know that i was the first one to forward this to the individual in question.

as you do not reveal who you are i assume you do not know enough of this case and base yourself on hearsay. that is a dangerous thing to do.

your words carry with them an old world order attitude, the fact that you do not reveal who you are but hide behind a Guest makes your words even less convincing.
you do not answer any of the issues i have brought up, and you also do not abide by the request made in the former thread on this, namely not to discuss personal cases.

in short, you have made up your mind, are not open to consultation and are here to canvass for your opinion.

sorry, that is not my understanding of the bahai writings so be noted that any further posts of you about this matter will be disregarded by me.

may God shine His light on your path,

janine

janine

Postby janine » Wed Jan 28, 2004 6:36 pm

Dear Michael,

based on the quotes posted immediately below yours, my view is that a person can only see himself not a bahai anymore when he or she actually stops believing in Baha'u'llah as the manifestation of God for this day and age.

with love,

janine

janine

Postby janine » Wed Jan 28, 2004 7:06 pm

i pick up the topic of the removal of an individual from the roles by the Universal House of Justice one more time because something occurred to me.

some people could read my refusal to discuss this matter further as a sign that i do not want truth, that i want to follow blindly, that i do not wish to see possible flaws within the bahai faith.

My refusal to discuss this further is based on the following:

first and foremost a request was made by the owner of this forum not to discuss personal cases.

second, i have investigated one particular case. part of the investigation was reading posts of the individual on public forums and following the behaviour on the internet and actions of the said individual after the decision was made. As Baha'u'llah says: you will know them by their fruits. Which are our acts and attitudes. That is why i investigated further the actions and attitudes as they came through on the medium as is the internet.

We cannot discuss a case like this, the reason why there apparently was no clear communication that someone was doing something wrong without going into areas like motives, personality etc. of the said individual. All highly subjective material and potentially one can easily trespass into areas like backbiting.

The person hiding behind 'guest' probably knows that i met the indvidual and her husband personally, though do not know them that well, that i have a high regard for their purity of desire to help the human race and their love of God and that i truly liked them before all this happened.

for those reading this post, please bear in mind that the universal house makes decisions based on consultation with one another and that they consist of 9 elected men, that the authority they have was given to them by Baha'u'llah, that the Guardian decided clearly on the matter that the individual whose case i investigated was questioning for a number of years in public forums.
so it is not like some fanatical mad people not open to truth, (men in this case even, which can make it worse) who suddenly decide to disenroll someone from the rolls.

i have met about 5 members of the universal house of justice who were members at that time the decision was made. Some of them i have met when they were councillors and met them several times, on summerschools and the like, talked personally with them, observed their behaviour, listened to talks they gave.
None of them striked me as people who would make this decision quickly, based on insufficient evidence, would act unjustly, would be prone to unsubstantiated acts of censure. the universal house of justice only passes a decision when it is made unanimously, i.e. when all nine members agree. so consultation was done on this matter, before the decision was made.

also we know from the writings that the universal house of justice is not just the sum of its nine members. it is a divinely inspired institution, protected and under the guidance of Baha'u'llah. That is a weighty factor for people who believe in Baha'u'llah, since He said this in His own words.

the members of the Universal House of Justice are smart intelligent people, who knew that the decision could be used as a further way for people to hold on to old world order ideas. Who knew that in a liberalist post modern society like North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand this decision would be seen as contrary to the beliefs of those societies. That they still took this decision shows a courage and a proof of faith which is worth pondering over.

God doeth what He willeth. For some people incidents like this will be a severe test of their faith, for others it will be an obstacle in recognising the truth of the Bahai cause and the strength of the administrative order.

with love,

janine van rooij
dublin, ireland.

Guest

Postby Guest » Thu Jan 29, 2004 2:49 am

janine,

I defer to your wishes.

Allah'u'Abha :o)

omid

Postby omid » Thu Jan 29, 2004 11:38 am

Hi all,

After reading the many posts and varied opinions it seems that there is a common factors between people who have their differences and people who obey the House of Justice. First, all of us here im sure beleive in Baha'u'llah, His principles and His station, however exalted it is. SO concluding the obvious I bring up the next point.

What are some possible, realistic solutions to to the problem of people questioning and disobeying the UHJ while at the same time beleiving in Baha'u'llah?

I have seen people critize my LSA my NSA my regional council, my auxilary board members, counsellors etc etc...A common problem that only seems to be re-occuring is questioning the athourity and perogitives of these individuals and institutions.

If I may suggest to whomever that if you have questions about the role of an institution and its function, ask about it. Go to feast, consult, discuss, write a polite letter stating your dilemma. If I may say one more thing regarding the AM case...it seems that her priorities are in the wrong place. If she wrote a letter stating her wish to be accepted back into the Baha'i community on conditions that her faith does rest upon the administrative order personally I think she would be re-instated, right?

I have seen her website trying to belittle the infalibility of the UHJ, which is basis for covenant breaking.

Anyway...moving on...the Baha'i Faith is only going to increase in its scope and capacity. I think in the future there will be more test for beleivers. The UHJ will have to adapt and complement the needs of a growing community. I think new istitutions will be created...We still have yet to see the Supreme Tribunal--which is an awsome thought to me. A security force, networks of higher Baha'i education, Baha'i lawyers practicing Baha'i law and abiding by a Baha'i consitution, Baha'i civil law and Justice, Baha'i countries...etc etc...all are a posibility if not inevitible.

The role of the institutions now is 2 fold, protection and propogation. If we have a dispute on our taxs or have a traffic ticket we dont go to our LSA to handle the matter...we go to the "other" courts...imagine in the future that we DO go to the LSA, our local House of Justice. People need to look forward and stop bickering about who is in charge and what are they supposed to do. I think its safe to say that th Baha'i faith has not only the capacity to be an awsome religion, but a resort to any kind of problem--which is lacking in other dispensations. The UHJ has the capactiy to increase its members to, I think 19 or even 95. (wow) The Holy Land will be full of new buildings and housing new offices funcitioning and operating fully and capable--with divine guidance. Some people just dont get how big and all encompassing this Faith really is. Baha'u'llah is above any acurate description. He is the Supreme Manifestion of God! Why do people concentrate so much on the details!?! It really bothers me personally to see or read covenant breaker materials or people who are dissidents and frivilously publish and write attacks and baseless garbage. They completly lack forsight. ehnah la motaheedeh.

I study psychology as I have stated before and I cant help but think as to why some individuals claim the things they do, in other words I try to think what they are thinking so I can understand. Person by person, individuals from Haji Mirza Aqasi to Joel Marangella I have tried to picture why and how do they think what they think. There is only one conclusion, and that is they trust themselves...Error.

Solution: Find a loyality and be loyal to it. If you are loyal to yourself your in for a wild ride. Trust in something, put your faith into something besides the indisputible. For example, I went to church with one of my friends on Sunday and the sermon was on Faith. It really was an awsome sermon and the pastor brought up great points. Faith is not saying I beleive, or I feel that this is true...Faith is putting your trust into God's hands and relying upon and working for the greatest things, The Kingdom of God on Earth. People who dispute and contend veinly in my opinion have no loyalties and trust no one accept themselves. They swear alligance to absract and ultimatley unafthomable mysteries such as Truth and Justice. Ya I said it. Academics and historians call truth historic facts and justice the action take after a violation. Both wrong in my opinion. Truth, real truth, we will never know...this is the underlying principle for our purpose in creation...to have faith and be loyal and obey. Justice, real Justice im scared of and I can say I have never expereinced it...I think.

I wince to think what my life would be like if I had no uncondtional loyalites...such as loyalty to the administrative order.

~o

Omid Townsend
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2004 10:48 am
Location: Florida
Contact:

Postby Omid Townsend » Thu Jan 29, 2004 1:31 pm

I was reading my post over again and I have to say it seems a bit hypocritical. If I may clarify...I have opinions as does everyone, they are expressed sometimes rather bluntly or in other peoples cases eloquently and reverently, the fact of the matter is...we still have our own views and like to let other people know them. I just would like to say that the great thing about being human and being fallible is that we learn and change our views according to our understanding...I know im just a punk college kid and I also know I love Baha'u'llah, I owe my life to Him...litterally.

Glory be to Thee, O King of eternity, and the Maker of nations, and the Fashioner of every moldering bone! I pray Thee, by Thy Name through which Thou didst call all mankind unto the horizon of Thy majesty and glory, and didst guide Thy servants to the court of Thy grace and favors, to number me with such as have rid themselves from everything except Thyself, and have set themselves towards Thee, and have not been kept back by such misfortunes as were decreed by Thee, from turning in the direction of Thy gifts.

I have laid hold, O my Lord, on the handle of Thy bounty, and clung steadfastly to the hem of the robe of Thy favor. Send down, then, upon me, out of the clouds of Thy generosity, what will purge out from me the remembrance of anyone except Thee, and make me able to turn unto Him Who is the Object of the adoration of all mankind, against Whom have been arrayed the stirrers of sedition, who have broken Thy covenant, and disbelieved in Thee and in Thy signs.

Deny me not, O my Lord, the fragrances of Thy raiment in Thy days, and deprive me not of the breathings of Thy Revelation at the appearance of the splendors of the light of Thy face. Powerful art Thou to do what pleaseth Thee. Naught can resist Thy will, nor frustrate what Thou hast purposed by Thy power.

No God is there but Thee, the Almighty, the All-Wise.

- Bahá'u'lláh

Guest

Postby Guest » Sat Jan 31, 2004 5:05 pm

Janine wrote:
"by the way, it might interest you that i was the person who took the initiative to ask why a particular bahai's name was taken from the rolls. the email i got in reply was shared with that person, who some time later and without asking my permission, posted it on a public website. I shared that email with that person out of a sense of fairness, who had not bothered to ask the universal house for clarification."


Hi Janine,

I hope you're well and happy. Your recall of events is a little off-beam I'm afraid. I hope you don't mind me correcting some of the things you say.

by the way, it might interest you that i was the person who took the initiative to ask why a particular bahai's name was taken from the rolls.


Only a small part of the email you got in reply was shared with "that person".

the email i got in reply was shared with that person, who some time later and without asking my permission, posted it on a public website.


The email she put up on her web-site - http://home.clear.net.nz/pages/alisonz/19-4-00.html - was from another source. Several people got the same form-letter reply from the House that you apparently got.

I shared that email with that person out of a sense of fairness, who had not bothered to ask the universal house for clarification."


When you shared a portion of the email with "that person", you said that you were going to put the whole email on Talisman. I have a copy of your email, and will post it here. Provided I have your permission, of course.

cheers,
Steve Marshall

omid

Postby omid » Sun Feb 01, 2004 4:23 pm

I feel like im back in high school with all this gossip. I would think educated adults could find better things to do with thier time than 'dwell on the unpleasant things of life'. Come on brothers and sisters, as a youth im a little dissapointed to see this kind of behavior from y'all. Can we change the subject?

Guest

Postby Guest » Sun Feb 01, 2004 4:55 pm

Omid,

how is this 'gossip'? We are discussing an event that happened and are trying to come to the truth of the matter.

What it involves is a topic that touches on each and every Baha'i today, whether they realize it or not.

That is, what does it mean to be a Baha'i?

Until Michael McKenney and Alison Marshall, most Baha'is believed that to be a Baha'i meant to believe in Baha'u'llah and attempt in our imperfect ways to obey his laws and ordinances. This by the way, is what was and is told to those interested to join our Faith.

However, after 1997, the UHJ set a precedent whereby a person could be deemed not a Baha'i or unenrolled based solely on what they may have said or written in communication with other Baha'is.

The UHJ, in neither case, specified what exactly one needs to say to be unenrolled but simply issued vague justifications and instructed the NSA's of Canada and New Zealand to expell two members of their respective communities. No charges were ever brought against them. No specific wrong doing was ever identified, either to the Baha'i community or to those individuals themselves.

Wouldn't you be interested to know what exactly they did that got them unenrolled? If not for any other reason than to know where the limits are?

This is not 'dwelling on the unpleasant'. Rather, it is trying to understand the re-defined parameters that the UHJ has authored for membership in the Faith.

janine

Postby janine » Mon Feb 02, 2004 10:07 am

The whole email was forwarded.

janine

Postby janine » Mon Feb 02, 2004 10:10 am

Hello Steve,

Good that you jumped in to clarify matters. Yes i posted the email on talisman, if i remember correctly. That I did myself. To incur from that that then that email could be freely used is not in my understanding good manners.

you say you used it from another source. That is then another matter cleared up.

now can we please be polite and abide by the request of the list owner not to discuss individual cases?

with love,

janine van rooij
dublin, ireland.

janine

Postby janine » Mon Feb 02, 2004 10:33 am

I have always understood to be a bahai is to follow the text and guidance.

that is, to recognise Baha'u'llah as the Manifestation of this day and age.

then, to abide by His laws, and more, follow them out of love for HIm.

one of His laws is very important. He says it will bring grievance to His heart to see His followers cause dissention and disharmony, and to fight among themselves.

He also says to be obedient to the guidance and the directives which come from the highest administrative institution in the Bahai faith. To be loyal to that institution.

We may not be completely perfect in following the laws. To have the will and the intention is very important. To act in the spirit of unity and harmony is very important.

No matter what you may think personally, if you deepen yourself thoroughly in the covenant as it is made clear by Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, one cannot disobey a decision made by the HOuse. The ONLY way truth will be made manifest is if bahais cling to unity. Unity, it is explained, is being obedient to the decree of in this case the Universal House of Justice. If It does not want to give an explanation other than the one already given, it is the right of this institution.

Baha'u'llah says that the House is under His protection. To discuss this decision openly on a public forum is to my understanding not in agreement with obeying and being loyal to a decision the House took. It is in fact showing forth distrust.
If one cannot find satisfaction in the clarification given by the HOuse, one may contact his or her ABM for protection or the board of counsellors.

Trust is very important in being spiritual and believing in God. If you believe that this dispensation is from God, turn then to the writings and the authorative interpreters of the writings. Go and talk to your assistant, abm, counsellor. To discuss this matter on a public forum is not showing forth trust.

If we see the institutions of the faith merely as some individuals coming together, we will not develop trust. We will see it maybe as a social movement, or worse, a political movement. Unfortunately Shoghi Effendi makes clear in World Order of Baha'u'llah that it is not like any -archy or acry we have ever known. It is something new, and it has its basis in trust.

It comes to mind now the story a bahai once told me, of a woman who was highly qualified for a job at the world centre. This woman did not get the job. The Universal HOuse of Justice consults on each case when the personnel department gives the names of people who are qualified for a particular job to It. They come together, pray and consult. And sometimes the answer is no, even though the person is very qualified. When asked the Universal House of Justice said they did not know why but the vote was uninanimously no. Three months later this woman got a job with a company in an area where they desperately needed bahais.

Things do not go always linear and logical in a faith. That is why trust is so important, faith in God and belief in the Word of the Manifestation of God for that day. Baha'u'llah says that He directly guides the UHJ. Especially at this stage in the faith, where we have not fully emerged out of obscurity, where there is not much power, I cannot see how this guidance is corrupted already. To think that shows a lack of faith in God's plan.

Bahais are not perfect, but we are also not that imperfect. My inner voice says that this Cause will succeed, that the vision of Shoghi Effendi as laid down in the world Order letters will become reality.

If you have questions about this decision and you are a bahai, talk to your assistant, abm, counsellor or your lsa. Do not get discouraged, go on until you find a suitable answer. But it is useless to discuss it in public forums. YOu will only create dissension: some people will agree some will not and a couple will get upset. I cannot see it doing any good.

Part of being bahai is being loyal and not causing dissension.

with love,

janine van rooij
dublin, ireland.

Omid Townsend
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Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2004 10:48 am
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Contact:

Postby Omid Townsend » Mon Feb 02, 2004 12:46 pm

Bravo Jenine! Frankly, we are beating a dead horse. As I recall this forum is for disscussion of scholarly subjects...like the next prophet :wink:
(kidding)

I know that hearing about these cases can be disheartening. But try to remember that the reasons of such actions taken by the House may not be understood all at once and even though they have provided explaniation some people just dont want to understand. One last thing...Why dont the Marshalls express their wish to be re-instated, write a letter apologizing for all the problems and missconceptions and we can move on past this pointless debate? We would love to talk about unity!

The Universal House of Justice does not make mistakes. Individuals do. We have to be held accountable for our views and opinions.

We all go through tests and if we didnt we would not grow and develop.

The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not the knowledge of thy neighbour. Ponder this in thy heart how it behoveth they to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.
26. O SON OF BEING!
How couldst thou forget thine own faults and busy thyself with the faults of others? Whoso doeth this is accursed of Me.
27. O SON OF MAN!
Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness.
28. O SON OF SPIRIT!
Know thou of a truth: He that biddeth men be just and himself committeth iniquity is not of Me, even though he bear My name.


God knows I am concerned for the condition of all the friends...We should be united...

Guest

Postby Guest » Mon Feb 02, 2004 1:09 pm

Omid Townsend wrote: But try to remember that the reasons of such actions taken by the House may not be understood all at once and even though they have provided explaniation some people just dont want to understand.


huh?

The UHJ did not provide any explanation or reasons. Neither to individual Baha'is around the world that wrote them asking for one and neither to the individual Baha'is unenrolled.

I, personally, am very much interested in understanding.

However, no such opportunity is provided by the House. Nor by people like janine who simply want to shut down any and all discussion about this matter.

Thanks for the quotes regarding justice. Can I ask you a question about them?

How are we supposed to see with our own eyes, as Baha'u'llah says, if we are not given a reason or explanation and are instead told to just accept it? How are we supposed to know of our own knowledge, and not the knowledge of others if we don't talk about it?

This is not just rhetoric. I am serious about those questions. After all, the Writings were meant to be applied and used in our everyday lives. They are not just abstract ideas.

Omid

Postby Omid » Mon Feb 02, 2004 9:53 pm

Why dont you tell us who you are? your arguments are border line covenant breaker statements. This matter is beyond me and frankly your asking the wrong guy. I am a Baha'i under the guidance of the UHJ. You are openly questioning the House of Justice. Do you know better than they do?

Dear friend please continue the matter elsewhere. My comments are not athoritative nor do they represent the offical view, therefore any statements on my part are irrelevant.

If you truely want to know, which it seems like this has become your priority, speak to a continental counselor...in person and frankly.

Do you have faith in the Universal House of Justice or not? That is the essence of your dilemma.

I dont know Alison, although her website gives a biased view of what "actually" happend, I cant speculate nor do I intend to.

In fact I think this whole thread is unfortunaltly backbitting...shame we cant talk about something new.

brettz9
Posts: 1363
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Tue Feb 03, 2004 11:13 am

"...He doeth whatsoever He willeth and ordaineth whatsoever He pleaseth. Nor shall He be asked of His doings, whilst all men will be asked of their every deed."


Go somewhere else to sow your doubts. We do not give ear here to manifestly vain talk.
"Unto the Most Holy Book every one must turn, and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal House of Justice. That which this body, whether unanimously or by a majority doth carry, that is verily the truth and the purpose of God Himself. Whoso doth deviate therefrom is verily of them that love discord, hath shown forth malice, and turned away from the Lord of the Covenant." ('Abdu'l-Bahá, Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, section 2, <a href="http://bahai-library.com/?file=abdulbaha_will_testament.html#2par8">par. 8</a>)


Let it not be imagined that the House of Justice will take any decision according to its own concepts and opinions. God forbid! The Supreme House of Justice will take decisions and establish laws through the inspiration and confirmation of the Holy Spirit, because it is in the safekeeping and under the shelter and protection of the Ancient Beauty, and obedience to its decisions is a bounden and essential duty and an absolute obligation, and there is no escape for anyone. ('Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted at http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_takfir.html )



I. Membership in the Baha'i Community

The Baha'i community shall consist of all persons recognized by the Universal House of Justice as possessing the qualifications of Baha'i Faith and practice. (Constitution of the Universal House of Justice, article I)


...the National Spiritual Assembly, in which body is vested sole authority to pass upon the qualifications of an enrolled Bahá'í...(By-laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly, Article III at
http://bahai-library.com/?file=nsa_lsa_by-laws.html )


Brett

Guest

Postby Guest » Tue Feb 03, 2004 4:02 pm

Brett,

I think you're being a little bit too rough on Omid. Sure he didn't have to throw out an insult like that (covenant breaker - something we Baha'is are a little too careless bandying about) but I don't think he deserves to be told that he is sowing seeds of doubt or speaking vainly. We are all His servants and all Abide by His bidding.

After all Abdul'Baha did ask us to speak with words as mild as milk. And all we are attempting to do here is to consult with each other. No one is questioning the legitimacy or authority of the UHJ. I have never seen that in anyone's words. I would be the first to state and protect that station and authority (with my life if necessary) and I'm sure I would have company in that regard.

All I see are a few sincere Baha'is discussing the UHJ and a recent action taken by that august institution. Surely you are not implying that Baha'is can not discuss such matters in a spirit of detachment and love? I'm sure that we could all agree that understanding the UHJ and its decisions is important to all Baha'is and can only lead to a more deepened individual who is strong in the Covenant.

Thank you for those quotes. They are beautiful. I think everyone should study the Will and Testament of the Master. It is the bedrock of the World Order, IMHO.

I'm sure you won't mind if I point out that the first quote is referring to the Manifestation of God (not the UHJ which we are discussing here). The Manifestation of God and God Himself, are beyond the comprehension of all mortal minds and no one dare question the Lord. The UHJ is, unfortunately, mistaken by some Baha'is as possessing the same station. This is a sad thing, but one that can easily be overcome by reading the Writings (some of which you kindly provided).

Anyway, I'm hope you won't mind me chiding you in this friendly way. I know you didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings. Its just that with such an impersonal medium, it is easy to misunderstand each other's tone and viewpoints.

In the end, I will abide by the guidance to first seek a hearing ear before speaking. Since it seems that some do not wish to enter into Baha'i consultation on this matter, I will accept their wishes and leave the matter.

Allah'u'Abha :)

Omid

Postby Omid » Tue Feb 03, 2004 4:57 pm

I dont think Brett was talking about me...You are right I should not throw the 'covenant breaker' term around so lightly. I was misled by the statments of the guest...It seemed as if he/she was doubting the House of Justice. The sower, or any sower of the seeds of doubt could easily have said those things and anyone would think as to wether or not they are firm in the covenant.

Basically, these things are subtle, covenant breakers usually find a way to begin conversations and lead the way in casting doubt. If a non-Bahai were to read these things some very strange conclusions may be drawn.

WRITINGS OF BAHA'U'LLAH


"Protect yourselves with utmost vigilance, lest you be entrapped in the snare of deception and fraud." This is the advice of the Pen of Destiny."Therefore, to avoid these people will be the nearest path by which to attain the divine good pleasure; because their breath is infectious, like unto poison.""Endeavor to your utmost to protect yourselves, because Satan appears in different robes and appeals to everyone according to each person's own way, until he becomes like unto him -- then he will leave him alone."
"...If you detect in any man the least perceptible breath of violation, shun him and keep away from him." Then He says: "Verily, they are manifestations of Satan."
(Bahá'í World Faith, p. 431)


WRITINGS OF ABDU'L-BAHA


Bahá'u'lláh, in all the Tablets and Epistles, forbade the true and firm friends from associating and meeting the violators of the Covenant of His Holiness, the Báb, saying that no one should go near them because their breath is like the poison of the snake that kills instantly.
(Bahá'í World Faith, p. 430)


And now, one of the greatest and most fundamental principles of the Cause of God is to shun and avoid entirely the Covenant-breakers, for they will utterly destroy the Cause of God, exterminate His Law and render of no account all efforts exerted in the past.
(Bahá'í World Faith, p. 448)


My object is to show that the Hands of the Cause of God must be ever watchful and so soon as they find anyone beginning to oppose and protest against the guardian of the Cause of God, cast him out from the congregation of the people of Bahá and in no wise accept any excuse from him. How often hath grievous error been disguised in the garb of truth, that it might sow the seeds of doubt in the hearts of men!
(Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 12)


EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITING OF SHOGHI EFFENDI AND LETTERS ON HIS BEHALF


With regard to avoiding association with declared Covenant-breakers, Shoghi Effendi says that this does not mean that if one or more of these attends a non-Bahá'í meeting any Bahá'ís present should feel compelled to leave the meeting or to refuse to take part in the meeting, especially if that part has been pre-arranged. Also if in the course of some business transaction it should become necessary to negotiate with one of these people, in order to clear up the business, that is permissible, provided the association is confined to the matter of the business in hand. It is different if one of these people should come to a Bahá'í meeting. Then it would become necessity to ask him in a most tactful and dignified way to leave the meeting as Bahá'ís are forbidden to associate with him.
(From a letter dated 16 May 1925 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)


You must of course send Avarih (a Covenant-breaker) his title deed through the Qamsar Local Spiritual Assembly, as it is his right. The friends must have full regard for his rights inasmuch as civil rights have no relation whatsoever to the beliefs of individuals. The Bahá'ís must be free and sanctified from religious prejudice and from ignorant fanaticism.
(From a letter to a Local Spiritual Assembly dated 15 February 1929 -- Translated from the Persian)


Regarding Mr....'s question about the Covenant-breakers: Bahá'u'lláh and the Master in many places and very emphatically have told us to shun entirely all Covenant-breakers as they are afflicted with what we might try and define as a contagious spiritual disease; they have also told us, however, to pray for them. These souls are not lost forever. In the "Aqdas", Bahá'u'lláh says that God will forgive Mirza Yahya if he repents. It follows therefore that God will forgive any soul if he repents. Most of them don't want to repent, unfortunately. If the leaders can be forgiven it goes without saying that their followers can also be forgiven....Also, it has nothing to do with unity in the Cause; if a man cuts a cancer out of his body to preserve his health and very life, no one would suggest that for the sake of "unity" it should be reintroduced into the otherwise healthy organism! On the contrary, what was once a part of him has so radically changed as to have become a poison.
(From a letter dated 30 November 1944 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)


There is no excuse for believers continuing to associate with ... and those who, knowing everything, still insist on doing so, should be shunned by their fellow-Bahá'ís. The same applies to people who have left the Cause and associate with ... The point is that if the believers know and meet with people who are acquainted with Covenant-breakers there is no harm in this, for such individuals are not Bahá'ís and have nothing to do with the issues concerned. But those who have left the Cause, knowing all about such matters, and deliberately associate with Covenant-breakers, are well aware of what they do, and we must not associate with them at all. It is for the Local Assembly, guided by the National Spiritual Assembly, to enforce such decisions and the Cause in its area of jurisdiction.
The friends should, without too much dwelling on these negative things, be made to understand that some people are spiritually sick and that their disease is, alas, contagious. Some recover from it, as did ... whose heart could not rest till he returned to the fold; others do not. The Master and Bahá'u'lláh have taught us that associating with these souls is not likely to heal them at all, but on the contrary exposes one to grave danger of contagion. The history of the Faith has proved this over and over again.
The only way we can prove to such people that they are wrong is to censure their conduct; if we sympathize with them we only fortify their perversity and waywardness.
(From a letter dated 23 January 1945 written on behalf of the Guardian to individual believer)


It is better not to read books by Covenant-breakers because they are haters of the Light, sufferers from a spiritual leprosy, so to speak. But books by well-meaning yet unenlightened enemies of the Cause can be read so as to refute their charges.
(From a letter dated 19 March 1946 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)


He is very happy to know your dear sister is now happier, and more like her old self and the dark thoughts she had have been dispelled. Covenant- breaking is truly a spiritual disease, and the whole viewpoint and attitude of a Covenant-breaker is so poisonous that the Master likened it to leprosy, and warned the friends to breathe the same air was dangerous. This should not be taken literally; He meant when you are close enough to breathe the same air you are close enough to contact their corrupting influence. Your sister should never imagine she, loyal and devoted, has become a "carrier".
(From a letter dated 29 July 1946 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)


He noted the report of ... about her meeting with the grandchild of Subhi Azal. He feels that the friends should as much as possible avoid her, as it is very unlikely she has anything but prejudice against Bahá'u'lláh, in view of her background.
(From a letter dated 24 October 1947 to a National Spiritual Assembly)


No intelligent and loyal Bahá'í would associate with a descendant of Azal, if he traced the slightest breath of criticism of our Faith, in any aspect, from that person. In fact these people should be strenuously avoided as having an inherited spiritual disease -- the disease of Covenant-breaking! Certainly such matters should be brought to the attention of the Assembly or National Spiritual Assembly within whose jurisdiction they occur.
(From letter dated 9 December 1948 to an individual believer)


Whenever we find a person who opposes some fundamental of our Faith, such as Institution of the Guardianship, we must first be sure this is not due to ignorance or lack of proper training, before we take action. We must not suppose immediately that that person is necessarily tainted by the spirit of Covenant-breakers. If, however, this should prove to be the case, then strong action must be taken by the Assembly.
(From a letter date 24 June 1948 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)


The friends are sometimes surprisingly naive and superficial in their approach to the subject of Covenant-breakers. They do not seem to understand that the descendants of Azal, with their mother's milk, drank hatred of Bahá'u'lláh, just as the descendants of Muhammad-Ali and his relatives have imbibed from babyhood a false concept of the Master. It takes practically a miracle to overcome this lifelong habit of wrong thought. Now, however, he has told the German believers to shun her.
(From a letter dated 18 August 1949 written on behalf of the Guardian to a National Spiritual Assembly)


A Covenant-breaker, as you know, is one who disobeys and turns away from the Centre of the Covenant. Until such time as they repent of this sincerely, and express their willingness to work under the Centre of the Covenant, their status must be considered the same. However, such matter should be discussed and decided upon within the National Spiritual Assembly itself.
(From a letter dated 16 March 1953 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)


EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS AND MESSAGES OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

...
children of Covenant-breakers, who have grown up with and still associate with their parents, are probably thoroughly infused with the Covenant-breaking spirit, and the friends must not associate with them until the Hands of the Cause have ascertained that these children have understood the sin of their parents and dissociated themselves from them.
(From letter dated 5 February 1969 to an individual believer)


It should be explained that descendants of Covenant-breakers who have not positively repudiated their forebears and sought readmittance to the Cause should be viewed with caution as they may well have received the poison of Covenant-breaking from their parents and would then have to be shunned by the friends.
(From memorandum to the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land dated 2 December 1971)


The danger of meeting with children of Covenant-breakers is that even although they may never have been declared Bahá'ís there is always the likelihood that they have been strongly indoctrinated by their parents with the poison of Covenant-breaking.
(From a letter dated 9 June 1974 to an individual believer)


The Bahá'í students who go to schools which children of Covenant-breakers attend should be made, lovingly and wisely, to understand that as Bahá'ís they cannot and must not choose children of Covenant-breakers as their personal friends, without making the matter into an open issue before the school. Thus, there should be no hard and fast rule to the effect that no Bahá'í child should be enrolled in a school where children of Covenant-breakers are also enrolled, or that they should leave a school as soon as a child of a Covenant-breaker enters it. The important thing is to impress upon Bahá'í children that personal friendship and individual companionship with children of Covenant- breakers must be avoided. Should it be found that in a particular case the situation is such that the policy outlined above cannot be followed, then in such cases, which we hope can bekept to a minimum, it would be desirable for Bahá'í children to change schools.
(From a memorandum dated 22 January 1976 to the International Teaching Centre)


YOUR REPORT FICICCHIA RECEIVED STOP IF COVENANT-BREAKER ATTENDS PUBLIC MEETINGS HE SHOULD BE TREATED BY SPEAKER IN WISE MANNER SUCH AS USED BY DR. ... STOP BAHAIS OTHER THAN CHAIRMAN AND SPEAKER SHOULD AVOID CONVERSATION WITH HIM STOP SITUATION ILLUSTRATES VITAL IMPORTANCE DEEPENING COVENANT ALL BELIEVERS STOP
(Telegram dated 23 February 1976 to a National Spiritual Assembly)


In reply to your letter of April 19, 1977, enquiring whether ... may receive financial assistance from her Covenant-breaking father, we are instructed by the House of Justice to say that it feels, in the circumstances set forth in your letter, that it would be inadvisable for ... to accept such financial assistance.
(From a letter dated 4 May 1977 to a National Spiritual Assembly)


The Universal House of Justice has requested us to acknowledge your letter of 17 January 1978 and to say that ... need not feel guilty about selling items from her shop to Mr...., or engaging, as your Assembly states, in "distant business conversation" with him, should he call again at her shop.
(From a letter dated 14 February 1978 to a National Spiritual Assembly)


EXTRACTS REGARDING ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION WITH COVENANT-BREAKERS


Regarding your concerns about Covenant-breakers participating in and posting material to the "Bahá'í Forum" on America Online (AOL), you should, of course, scrupulously and impartially uphold the rules of AOL's "Religion and Beliefs" area. You may warn the friends about interaction with Covenant-breakers if you feel it to be appropriate and if you can do so without violating the impartiality that you, as Forum manager, must demonstrate.


With respect to your concerns about your own contact with Covenant-breakers, you should feel no trepidation at having to interact with them in his particular situation and, if necessary, to read their postings. It is suggested, however, that your contact with them be kept to a minimum, as strictly required by your obligations as Forum manager. You will want to resist any temptation to be drawn into discussions or consideration of the arguments which they may advance.
(From a letter dated 28 May 1998 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual)


More generally, while it is disconcerting that Covenant-breaker material is being disseminated on the Internet, there is little that can or should be done to directly oppose such dissemination. Rather, the greatest protection to the Cause will be through ongoing deepening of the Bahá'í community in the Covenant and the history and teachings of the Faith. An important role that the Internet can play in this regard is to make authentic Bahá'í literature, on the Covenant and on Bahá'í teachings generally, easily available.
(From a letter dated 19 December 1997 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual)


The House of Justice feels that, when Bahá'ís are teaching in an online "chat room" and Covenant-breakers intrude upon the discussion, the friends should not feel obliged to sign off simply because Covenant-breakers are present in this virtual space. They should, however, refrain from knowingly engaging the Covenant-breakers in discussions and, in any case, should avoid being drawn into contentious or disputatious situations.
(From a letter dated 27 October 1997 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual)


The Universal House of Justice has received your email message of 29 September 1997 regarding the Covenant-breaking material sent to your personal email account.

The House of Justice is aware of such activities on the part of Covenant-breakers, and while it is closely following this issue, it sees no cause for undue concern. The friends should, of course, ignore any materials produced by Covenant-breakers which they may receive unsolicited by email or happen on while exploring the World Wide Web. With regard to your concerns over the content of the message, you are advised to turn to your Local Spiritual Assembly or an Auxiliary Board member for assistance in dealing with the spurious claims advanced in that message.

The best countermeasure to Covenant-breaker initiatives and the greatest protection for the Cause is for the believers to acquire a deeper appreciation of the station and purpose of Bahá'u'lláh and to become well-grounded in His Covenant.
(From a letter dated 7 October 1997 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual)


In principle, no person can be considered a Covenant-breaker unless he has been so designated by the Head of the Faith. However, it is strongly advised not to associate with those who have fallen under the pernicious influence of groups such as the "Orthodox Bahá'ís". They are infected with the spirit of Covenant-breaking, even if they are not all designated as such. Accordingly, the friends should not answer queries from individuals who obviously seek to draw them into the consideration of the spurious claims and logic of the Covenant-breakers.(From a letter dated 3 July 1997 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual)


Your faxed message dated 14 May 1997, requesting guidance concerning the attention given by the friends to postings by Covenant-breakers on the Internet, was received by the Universal House of Justice and referred to our Department for reply. The House of Justice is aware of the electronic postings on the Internet by Covenant-breakers. While it is closely following this issue, it sees no cause for undue concern. "The Bahá'í World", a Web site developed by the Bahá'í International Community's Office of Public Information, was launched in July 1996. It, together with a range of specialized Bahá'í Internet presentations such as the new "One Country" site, now provides individuals interested in learning about the Bahá'í Faith with a large and ever-expanding body of authentic material on the Faith, attractively presented and illustrated. Sites maintained by Covenant-breaker groups will have a diminishing impact in the context of the information deluge on the Internet and against the background of the authorized Bahá'í source now accessible.

The greatest protection to the Cause will, of course, be through ongoing deepening of the Bahá'í community in the Covenant and the history and teachings of the Faith. To facilitate this, you may wish to bring attention to the availability of the Sacred Text on the Web site "The Bahá'í World" and on the Bahá'í World Centre FTP server.
(From a letter dated 4 June 1997 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)


Your email of 11 April 1997 regarding contact through the Internet between the friends and Covenant-breaker groups has been received by the Universal House of Justice. It is not possible to provide you with a list of Internet addresses of Covenant-breaker groups as you have requested, as no such listing is being maintained at the Bahá'í World Centre at this time.

Any plans that you have to alert the friends to Covenant-breaker activity on the Internet should, of course, be undertaken with wisdom and discretion so as to avoid giving Covenant-breakers more attention or prominence than they would otherwise receive.
(From a letter dated 4 May 1997 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)


Thus, if any participant in an email discussion feels that a view put forward appears to contradict or undermine the provisions of the Covenant, he should be free to say so, explaining candidly and courteously why he feels as he does. The person who made the initial statement will then be able to re-evaluate his opinion and, if he still believes it to be valid, he should be able to explain why it is not contrary to either the letter or the spirit of the Covenant. The participants in such a discussion should avoid disputation and, if they are unable to resolve an issue, they should refer the point to the Universal House of Justice since, in accordance with the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "By this body all the difficult problems are to be resolved..." and it has the authority to decide upon "all problems which have caused difference, questions that are obscure, and matters that are not expressly recorded in the Book." In this way the Covenant can illuminate and temper the discourse and make it fruitful.
(From a letter dated 16 February 1996 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual)


There is an ever increasing use by believers of the Internet and other available computer based means of communication. These open unlimited possibilities for continuous proclamation and teaching, bringing the Creative Word and the Sacred Writings as well as the ideas of individual believers to hearts and mind everywhere. It also offers easy access to these same believers by those whose purpose is to undermine their faith. By being constantly alert we are able to encourage the use of this medium by the friends while ensuring their protection from those who would prey on them.
(From a letter dated 11 May 1995 written by the International Teaching Centre to a Continental Counsellor)


Participation by enemies of the Faith or members of Covenant-breaker groups may, indeed, occur in the dialogue on electronic forums. It is not advisable for the institutions of the Faith or its individual members to become directly involved in such discussion. It is neither wise nor possible to interfere with postings on public forums, but if it is observed that such activity is taking place on Bahá'í-only forums National Assemblies should be alerted so that they may provide appropriate advice to the administrator of the forum. The greatest protection to the Faith will not be through intervention on either open or closed electronic forums, but through ongoing deepening of the Bahá'í community in the Covenant and the history and Teachings of the Faith.
(From a letter dated 24 February 1995 written by the International Teaching Centre to a Continental Board of Counsellors)


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