"Entry by Troops"

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"Entry by Troops"

Postby Guest » Tue Jan 18, 2005 8:19 pm

I am curious about the origin of this phrase, "entry by troops." I always hear the Bahais talking about it, but it rubs me in the wrong way because it has such a violent connotation. It conjures up images of jackbooted thugs with guns stomping down gates and occupying a place force. Does Iraq ring any bells?

Bahais may not feel this way since they hear it all the time and have become numb to its implications. However, I don't think that it can be denied that this is a violent metaphor.

I have three questions for any Bahais out there:

1) Why does a religion that claims to be so peace-loving employ such a violent metaphor?
2) What is the origin of this saying?
3) How is the "entry by troops" going? I mean, are troops at the gate yet?

Comments appreciated.

Jay

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:35 am

Dear Jay,

My belief is that our Writings are coopting these metaphors (World Crusade), etc., redefining them with their much more glorious spiritual meaning. It is a kind of sublimation. For those who feel that battle is a test of courage and the like (which in rare justified situations it can be (while still of course always undesirable)), this urges that the real battle worth fighting is within one's self and in the social problems of society.

The term arose in Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet to the Sháh of Persia (par. 270 of the Súriy-i-Haykal) where He wrote:

"...they have hidden Me behind a veil of darkness, whose fabric they have woven with the hands of idle fancy and vain imagination. Erelong shall the snow-white hand of God rend an opening through the darkness of this night and unlock a mighty portal unto His City. On that Day shall the people enter therein by troops, uttering what the blamers aforetime exclaimed, that there shall be made manifest in the end that which appeared in the beginning."


Entry by troops has been described in our Writings as a process.

As far as how it is going, there have undeniably in recent years been increases in systematic, and more mature patterns of activity in the Baha'i community (including a growing respect for the value of being a learning community) which conduce well to this process, but the actual numbers of new entrants has not at this point universally resulted. As this process unfolds, it is considered to be a prelude to eventual "mass conversion".

And I might point out that the "ingredients" if you will for the success of this process are considered to be such things as greater "love and unity" among Bahá'í believers, and not any kind of pressure to rush out and proselytize aggressively for conversions (though it does serve undeniably (and unapologetically) for us to become involved enough to share this message with those who are interested to hear).

best wishes,
Brett

Guest

Postby Guest » Wed Jan 19, 2005 8:07 am

Hi Jay,

I thought I would chime in to perhaps
give you a different perspective.

I am a younger female. I am also Baha'i.
I have heard the saying "entry by troops" on more than one occasion.
However, I have never drawn to mind a violent connotation.
Perhaps this is more due to the fact that I have not really been involved in any wartime effort, and less due to the fact that I am "numb" to its implications.

When I hear the saying "entry by troops" I do
draw to mind a military, army type scene, but I have always thought of it like Gods troops reporting for duty - ready to do His work and further His cause. And this is All non-violent, Peace-promoting endeavors; i.e., working to end racisim, promote universal education, etc.

God Bless & Hope this is helpful.

Guest

Postby Guest » Wed Jan 19, 2005 9:19 am

Hi Jay,

P.S.

I found your question interesting since I have never thought of the phrase "entry by troops" as violent in any way & meanwhile, each time you hear this phrase, it upsets you and rubs you as denoting violence.

So, I decided to consult The American Heritage Dictionary of The English Language.

I looked up the definition for the words Troops, Military, Army, & Soldiers.

The dictionary lists a definition for each word that could be associated with war, which would in turn be associated with violence. However, these words can also be defined as a group of people working together toward a common end which is not warlike and thus, non-violent; i.e., the Boy Scout Troops.

I hope this is helpful. It is no fun to have something rub you the wrong way & bring to mind violence.

God Bless.

Guest

Postby Guest » Thu Jan 20, 2005 8:32 am

The New Testament also uses "church militant" imagery. (So does the Old, of course, but there they really meant it.)

The phrase that gets me is "Hands of the Cause." Makes me think of Cousin It.

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Postby hihellowhatsup » Sat Jan 22, 2005 12:33 am

Hi Jay,

I'm a new Baha'i, way out of the way of a USA Baha'i community. I have heard on the Internet that the term "entry by troops" was used by Anglo-Baha'is as a sort of chant; these sites where anti-Baha'i, so I thought they made it up. Since there not, I just want to say that it dosen't rub me right either, not in the violent sence, but that it sounds really "culty", giving more praise to the Faith than to God. I personally don't support it and I believe that UK, US, Australian, etc. communities should discontinue its usage.

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Postby brettz9 » Sat Jan 22, 2005 1:27 am

Dear hihellowhatsup and all,

I might mention that the House of Justice had apparently specifically mentioned that a document such as Promoting Entry by Troops would be appropriate for Baha'i-only forums, thus perhaps suggesting that those not familiar with the context might get the wrong impression.

However, as this is a concept which is promoted in our sacred and authoritative Writings themselves (from Bahá'u'lláh to 'Abdu'l-Bahá to Shoghi Effendi to the present-day Central Institution of the Cause, the Universal House of Justice), it would obviously not make sense for us to abandon its use entirely. I think the term also has the positive connotation of suggesting that work and self-discipline is involved in seeking to transform oneself to become a better Bahá'í in the context of service to others.

best wishes,
Brett

Guest

Postby Guest » Sun Jan 23, 2005 6:54 am

Dear Brett, Hihellowhat'sup, et al,

Regarding the true statement that it is no fun to have something rub you the wrong way, this is entirely true, but I think it misses the point. That point being that the metaphor of entry by troops to "outsiders" ears a violent metaphor. Of course the Bahai's don't think so because it has been redefined or "coopted" as mentioned above.

However, a number of seekers, myself included, feel that the insular nature of Bahais (they tend to "cluster" among themselves)(BTW a "cluster" is also an army term) they find it creepy, this whole idea of entry by troops. No wonder that it is not for non-official consumption.

Which brings me to another strange thing - if truth is truth, why should there be two sets of rules - one for outsiders and one for insiders? Aren't we all One? Isn't that what the Faith supposedly teaches? Or are some of us More One than others? This idea of discrimination just perpetuates the old division of "us v. them" And doesn't it get confusing - like keeping two sets of books in a way? I know there are other concepts, etc. that are only to be shared with the initiates.

Anyway, I'm just saying that these are some of the inconsistencies (among others) about the Bahai faith that are holding me up from signing the card.

Jay

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Postby MWaldie » Sun Jan 23, 2005 11:07 am

Hi Jay,

I am a relatviely new card holder and think of "entry by troops" as a calming reassuring event. I want to see this as adding to the power of our prayers and love in the world.

As far as Bahai's only being with Bahai's. Sure I see my Bahai friends at feast once every 19 days. And every Sunday for Childrens classes for my kids but most of my friends are not Bahai. Maybe someday they will be but that is up to them. I do not need them to be Bahai's to love them and want to be around them.

I see the exclusivity of some messages and the open reference to others the same as I see not teaching calculus before addition and subtraction.

We all need to deepen into the faith.

Mr. Taherzadeh once said that his Cathlic friends would say to him that all these principles of the faith are very good but Bahaullah is not as great as Jesus. And he would agree on some point or principle to further there deepening. Then a few moths more would go by and they would read more and then say to him well maybe they are equal. And Mr Taherzadeh would agree again and point out more to read or explain more and they would deepen more.

"Entry by troops" has so many meanings to so many people for that reason in my opinion.

Respectfully,

Mat

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Tue Jan 25, 2005 3:39 pm

Dear Jay,

However, a number of seekers, myself included, feel that the insular nature of Bahais (they tend to "cluster" among themselves)(BTW a "cluster" is also an army term) they find it creepy, this whole idea of entry by troops. No wonder that it is not for non-official consumption.


I think it is more essential to see what the actual meaning of a metaphor is, and then how it is interpreted in the community. Ever since the time of Bahá'u'lláh (particularly at that time at its beginning when the concept of "defending the Faith" really was misunderstood due to historical precedent), the community has been explicitly and emphaticaly commanded not to engage in even argumentation (the hostile kind) let alone organized conflict. Bahá'u'lláh stated in the connection of organized religious warfare that it is better to be killed than to kill.

As far as the perception of Bahá'ís being insular, I think that will vary quite a bit between communities. Some communities may face this issue, and that is why there has been a focus in our developing a greater "outward-looking orientation", whether from the perspective of inviting others into our various activities, joining like-minded organizations, or serving and befriending our co-workers, neighbors, etc.

Certainly there is encouragement in our Writings to participate in and strengthen our own community activities, but there is also the "Double Crusade" to become engaged with the greater community). :)

Which brings me to another strange thing - if truth is truth, why should there be two sets of rules - one for outsiders and one for insiders? Aren't we all One? Isn't that what the Faith supposedly teaches? Or are some of us More One than others? This idea of discrimination just perpetuates the old division of "us v. them" And doesn't it get confusing - like keeping two sets of books in a way? I know there are other concepts, etc. that are only to be shared with the initiates.


The first paragraph of Bahá'u'lláh's Most Holy Book (the Kitáb-i-Aqdas) mentions that God's Manifestation is He "Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation". This duality does not mean that there is a dual standard, however, because the same paragraph also implies that recognizing this Manifestation is a duty for all.

I wouldn't say that there are concepts which are rigidly only to be shared with initiates. There is not to be any air of secrecy about our teachings. It is simply a matter of wisdom of presenting it in a manner (as with any teaching) which is timely and suited to the present understanding of the person asking. If it was really forbidden to talk about this subject, for example, we wouldn't be talking about it openly here! Bahá'ís for example are advised not to use the greeting "Alláh'u'Abhá" indiscriminately in public as it may seem to others like a strange "oriental password". This advice is simply, as our Writings state, so that we do not unduly alarm people.

On the other hand, the way God has designed things, as with the seasons, religion goes through a process of decay and renewal, and a new Faith is, we believe, born amidst the old forms. It may be a mystery why God chooses to do this (i.e., the question of why God starts a new Faith), but the important thing is that, though we do believe the oneness of God implies (as in the above cited paragraph of Bahá'u'lláh) that all are called on to accept Him and that this will benefit all who do, we are also not to consider our status as believers as conveying any kind of inherent superiority. We may also find hints to the meaning of why God does this, in His wish to test humanity (believers as well as nonbelievers).

So basically it is not that there are two sets of rules in God's eyes, but for those who are not familiar with our Faith yet or who choose not to accept it, it is inevitable that we will not wish to unduly burden them with all of our standards, terminology, and the like. As far as how we relate to others, our Writings clearly state we are to prefer other religionists to ourselves, and that in this age it is not only charity which is to be extended to nonbelievers but genuine fellowship (the Qur'án and the Bible, for example, really advised this mostly between believers).

Anyway, I'm just saying that these are some of the inconsistencies (among others) about the Bahai faith that are holding me up from signing the card.


Fair enough...Well, it is good to get your questions out and see whether there are satisfactory justifications to our beliefs or practices. As you may be aware, our Writings make a distinction, though, between those beliefs and practices which are in accord with the letter and spirit of our Writings and those which are due to the shortcomings of a particular community. Best wishes in your investigations...Feel free to pose here anything else which may be troubling you.

take care,
Brett

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Postby majnun » Wed Mar 02, 2005 3:53 am

The expression "entry by troops" recalls to mind
the expression "entry in throngs" (afouaja) to describe an up
coming event (Qur'an 78:18 and 110:2)

some translate the expression by "in flocks", others translate
afouaja by "regiments", to describe the idea of "groups" or troops.
In French the expression is : en foule.

Chapter 78 is titled :The Event (Al-Naba') and the "Great Annoucement"
(al naba is on verse 2)
Chapter 110 is titled : The Triumph (Al-Nassr).

troops, regiments, flocks, throngs, transmit the same idea.
I guess mister Effendi translated from a farsi Qur'an the expression into
English. The point i wish to show is that this prediction (or prophetic warning) is indicated by the Qur'an, as many otner events concerning the Baha'i era. The analogy with some coranic verses is easy to figure.


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