Jews and bahai faith?

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SpiritualSeeker
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Jews and bahai faith?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Tue May 12, 2009 11:21 am

Hello,

a japanese muslim friend of mine claims he investigated the bahai faith but said that he debated a bahai on the issue of jews converting to the bahai faith. He said that the bahais made agreement with jewish state that they will not accept jews to convert to the bahai faith. This seemed odd because i have met a jew in america who converted to the bahai faith. Is there any truth to this?
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh

SpiritualSeeker
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Tue May 12, 2009 11:30 am

http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_teaching_in_israel

this is the link he gave me.

If the bahai is universal and yet an agreement was made with Israeli to not allow any israelis to convert to the bahai faith then its not truely perfect. This is one of the only flaws I have perceived of the Bahai Faith. This is saddening, because I was thinking perhaps the faith could be for me but I want absolute 100000percent truth that is for everyone.
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh

nharandi
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby nharandi » Tue May 12, 2009 2:17 pm

Jews are fully accepted by Baha'is as people and converts.

What you are reading in that link, however, is a long held policy of not aggressively teaching in Israel itself. While that is where the Baha'i Holy Land is, Baha'is have a sort of mutual understanding to not engage in aggressive teaching in Israel. I am no expert on the matter, but there are a number of reasons I can think of for why Baha'is maintain this. The modern Jewish state is an intense flashpoint of global religion. Baha'is have already baselessly been accused of pro-Israel and spies for Israel (see the current situation in Iran), and its almost as if Baha'u'llah knew it would happen. As I see it, teaching is both fine and inevitable in Israel, but as the Universal House of Justice states in that letter, to best prevent controversy and seemingly political ties, teaching should not be pushed or actively undertaken. Rest assured though, this does not pertain to Jewish people or Jews in general.

Sen McGlinn
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby Sen McGlinn » Tue May 12, 2009 4:12 pm

The letter of the UHJ refers to Israelis, not to Jews. When I was in Haifa, I stayed with Palestinian Christians (lovely couple, at the bottom of the stairs in the former Templar colony). I did not try to teach them the Faith either: they knew where to find it if they wanted to ! The same would apply I guess to Palestinians, Druze, Bedouin and other minorities in Israel. (Yes: there is a Bedouin minority, though many are now settled in towns built for them).

In countries where the politics is tied up with religious identity, conversion or the perception that people are trying to win converts can be a flash-point for violence. I would be just as reticent in Egypt, all of North Africa in fact, and when I was in Iran I did not teach the Faith at all. It would be so easy to do great harm, coming in as an outsider and not knowing what toes should not be trod on.

In Israel, we have the special circumstance of thousand of foreign Bahais coming and going, whether as pilgrims or as short-term workers. Only some of those who are long-time residents would get the local knowledge to do teaching work or interreligious dialogue without causing offence or worse. So there, a general rule of Bahais not teaching there makes sense. When a potential teaching situation does arise in Israel (like the 'journalists' who pretended they wanted to become Bahais, in the film "Bahais in my backyard"), someone who is aware of the sensitives can be delegated to respond.

~ Sen McGlinn

brettz9
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby brettz9 » Tue May 12, 2009 7:03 pm

Actually, we might add that we are actually encouraged to teach Jews elsewhere in the world (letter written to the U.S. and Canadian Baha'is):

Let anyone who feels the urge among the participators in this crusade, which embraces all the races, all the republics, classes and denominations of the entire Western Hemisphere, arise, and, circumstances permitting, direct in particular the attention, and win eventually the unqualified adherence, of the Negro, the Indian, the Eskimo, and Jewish races to his Faith. No more laudable and meritorious service can be rendered the Cause of God, at the present hour, than a successful effort to enhance the diversity of the members of the American Bahá'í community by swelling the ranks of the Faith through the enrollment of the members of these races. A blending of these highly differentiated elements of the human race, harmoniously interwoven into the fabric of an all-embracing Bahá'í fraternity, and assimilated through the dynamic processes of a divinely appointed Administrative Order, and contributing each its share to the enrichment and glory of Bahá'í community life, is surely an achievement the contemplation of which must warm and thrill every Bahá'í heart..."Praise be to God," writes `Abdu'l-Bahá, "that whatsoever hath been announced in the Blessed Tablets unto the Israelites, and the things explicitly written in the letters of `Abdu'l-Bahá, are all being fulfilled. Some have come to pass; others will be revealed in the future. The Ancient Beauty hath in His sacred Tablets explicitly written that the day of their abasement is over. His bounty will overshadow them, and this race will day by day progress, and be delivered from its age-long obscurity and degradation."

(Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 54-56 passim)


This is, in my opinion, a group which should be given more attention, especially since the other groups mentioned by Shoghi Effendi have at least had some specific targeting, and to my knowledge no specific efforts have been taken to date on an organized level. I recommended at one point to one local Assembly (don't recall if they passed on the suggestion to National or not), that a dedicated conference be held for this purpose, though I'd hope that others living in the U.S. or Canada consider passing on such a suggestion through their Assembly if they feel similarly, since I'm really not sure they followed up.

Especially given that many Jews feel like their religion is tied up inextricably to their identity (i.e., their race is their religion to many of them or to their friends and family--they may feel guilty, for example, in becoming Baha'is as though they are denying their history), having a specific venue for Jewish Baha'is might at once provide support, identify needs, and reconcile the Baha'i teachings of both cherishing positive or neutral secular aspects of cultural identity (for the interesting diversity or moral power they provide) along with the need to embrace the independent character of this Revelation, thereby potentially also providing more impetus to attracting further Jews to the Faith.

"He feels you did the right thing to have yourself under 'Religion' registered as a Bahá'í. Unfortunately, owing to this obnoxious and vicious race prejudice of every sort which afflicts the world today, the term Jew has come more to mean a race than a religion. You certainly, as your father feels, should never wish to disassociate yourself from a group of people who have contributed as much to the world as the Jews have. On the other hand your actual religion today is Bahá'í, and he feels that Jews should, when they become Bahá'ís, always give this as their Faith, but as their racial descent they should give 'Jewish'."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 15, 1948, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1819)


'Abdu'l-Baha specifically urged Baha'is to bringing certain topics to the attention of Jews (see http://bahai-library.com/writings/abdul ... p.html#411 ), such as the truth of Christ and Muhammad, as He Himself bravely did in His talk in a synagogue. There is, however somewhat understandable due to their treatment at His followers' hands and those followers often straying far from His teachings, an almost knee-jerk public reaction among some Jews against Christianity (while on the other hand, many Jews like to point out the Jewish origins of Christianity, recognizing Christ as at least a holy figure to them).

The key issue, I think, is both embracing the wonderful qualities of intellect, creativity, and enterprise, etc. which so many Jews possess (and upholding this strongly among non-Jews who would slander them as well), as well as embracing, as with other cultures', the charm of much of their traditional or recent music, customs, etc., while also urging them into a wider fraternity which does not confine themselves to inheriting a rejection of wider loyalties with the rest of humanity. Jews have demonstrated admirable capability of thinking rigorously and independently in many matters, so why not in this all-important area? This path (of urging them to recognize Christ and the other Manifestations and praise Them), is recommended multiple times in the Writings (I can provide additional sources if you like), but, as with teaching among other groups, it takes an equal amount of wisdom/compassion/sensitivity and courage to broach certain subjects. Hopefully there are Baha'is out there who can do this.

best wishes,
Brett
Last edited by brettz9 on Wed May 13, 2009 4:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: link fix

SpiritualSeeker
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Tue May 12, 2009 9:26 pm

Thanks for all the great responses. If we could please clarify the issue please. Did the Jewish state itself make a deal with the bahais? Also is it just the Bahais ? Or is it any religion or religious followers that go to israel cannot teach their faith? For example if a muslim went to Israel would they also be prevented from preaching? What about like a buddhist etc ...

Or is it just specifically the bahai? If so Why is this so?

Thank you!!
-Juan
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh

Sen McGlinn
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby Sen McGlinn » Wed May 13, 2009 4:10 am

brettz9 wrote:Actually, we might add that we are actually encouraged to teach Jews elsewhere in the world (letter written to the U.S. and Canadian Baha'is):

Let anyone who feels the urge ... win eventually the unqualified adherence, of the Negro, the Indian, the Eskimo, and [u]Jewish races to his Faith. ...
(Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, [url=pp. http://bahai-library.com/writings/shogh ... dj.html#54]54[/url]-56 passim)



I agree, but I urge caution. The Jewish community have often been the target of conversion zeal, and are likely to be sensitive. I suggest that learning about Judaism and developing a real appreciation for it, in part through contact with local Jewish communities, is a goal in itself. It would be very beneficial to the Bahai community to have more Bahais from a Jewish background, especially those who have a good grasp of the richness of Judaism and are willing to share it, but we should be clear that we do not think that Jewish people have to convert to be saved, or some such. If we target particular races and cultures, it is for the sake of achieving diversity and being able to draw on what they have to offer us - not because some races or cultures are particularly in need of what we have to offer them !

One of the things we could look at in Jewish communities is the way they have developed a culture of learning and made the study of scripture a personal and shared devotional act.

~~ Sen McGlinn

brettz9
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby brettz9 » Wed May 13, 2009 4:35 am

Yes, agreed on all points...

SpiritualSeeker
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Wed May 13, 2009 6:20 am

Hello..

um could someone answer me i would really appreciate it.
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh

brettz9
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby brettz9 » Wed May 13, 2009 6:35 am

Sorry, Juan, I thought we were addressing your point. The latter discussion was about the fact that the prohibition was for Israelis, no matter the religion. It is probably for the reasons stated already--it is a very sensitive area for religious conflict, and Baha'is are not interested in staking a claim in such an environment. We have good relations there, and an office for people to get information on the Faith. But whatever the various wisdoms, the prohibition has been in effect since the time of Baha'u'llah. It does not mean that the Faith is not for everyone--quite the contrary! The Baha'i Writings, including some interesting ones in pilgrims' notes, refer to the future positive role of Israel in connection to the Faith (and pilgrims' notes indicate how they are effectively protecting it now). If an Israeli really wants to actively take part in Baha'i life, they would need to leave the country at this point in time (actually Baha'is everywhere are urged to travel where the workers in the Faith are few and there are plenty of places where people have no opportunity to hear of the Faith and may be particularly receptive to a new religion), though there are clearly some there who live there in sympathy with the aims of the Faith.

SpiritualSeeker
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Wed May 13, 2009 6:46 am

Thanks brettz, but I am specifically asking if this prohibition about preaching is just a prohibition that the Israelis hold against bahais only.

What I mean is lets say a christian preacher went to israel to try to "save" jews, would the israeli government allow it or is it just their policy that religions other than Judaism cannot be preached in israel?

I could understand if it was just the state of Israel's policy that no one can preach their religions to the israeli's, but what I cannot accept is if it is only Specifically the Bahais who are forbidden to teach in israel.


Thanks
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh

brettz9
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby brettz9 » Wed May 13, 2009 7:08 am

According to the U.S., in Israel in 2008:

Missionaries were allowed to proselytize, although offering material inducements for conversion or converting persons under 18-years-old remained illegal unless one parent was of the religious group seeking to convert the minor. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) voluntarily refrained from proselytizing under a longstanding agreement with the Government. While officially legal, missionaries continued to face harassment and discrimination by some Haredi Jewish activists and organizations and certain local government officials.

(at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2008/108484.htm )


Whatever the exact details (I don't think we can say since Baha'i institutions are not required to be 100% transparent--accountability is to God alone, though openness in general is encouraged), as far as Baha'is, the prohibition has been in effect since the time of Baha'u'llah, so it is not that Baha'is are being compelled to do so (if Christians can actively proselytize there, surely there would be no theoretical objections by the government to Baha'is' non-aggressive approach), though it is possible I would imagine that the House of Justice made assurances that they would not be teaching there.

best wishes,
Brett

BruceDLimber
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby BruceDLimber » Wed May 13, 2009 7:10 am

Hi, Seeker!

SpiritualSeeker wrote:I am specifically asking if this prohibition about preaching is just a prohibition that the Israelis hold against bahais only.


So sorry, but you have this exactly backward!:

It's not that the Israelis prohibit US from teaching the faith; but rather that Baha'u'llah Himself imposed this restriction upon us, and we still endeavor to abide by it over a century later.

Peace, :-)

Bruce

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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby BritishBahai » Wed May 13, 2009 9:15 am

BruceDLimber wrote:It's not that the Israelis prohibit US from teaching the faith; but rather that Baha'u'llah Himself imposed this restriction upon us , and we still endeavor to abide by it over a century later.

Peace, :-)

Bruce
Please can you cite the source later on when you're free. Thanks
"I have desired only what Thou didst desire, and love only what Thou dost love"

brettz9
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby brettz9 » Wed May 13, 2009 9:23 am

From the link Juan gave:

"...in keeping with a policy that has been strictly followed since the days of Bahá'u'lláh..." (at http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_teaching_in_israel )

There might not actually be any Tablet about it...

best wishes,
Brett

SpiritualSeeker
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Wed May 13, 2009 8:42 pm

Thank you all everyone of you who has helped me with all my questions here. I am coming to the conclusion that I just cant trust religion really. I suppose I will forever be without religion perhaps I will continue to practice buddhist meditation and also do Shamanic practices. But I must say from my readings I do find the bahais to be wonderful people. I wouldnt mind having many bahai friends. Thank you very much for everything
sincerely
-Juan
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh

brettz9
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby brettz9 » Wed May 13, 2009 9:14 pm

Hello Juan,

This seems like a puzzling issue to be troubled with... Are you thinking that Baha'u'llah did not want the Faith for Israelis? That is certainly not the case... We do not expect this restriction for teaching in Israel to carry on forever, for sure...

But hoping you find the spirituality you are seeking, wherever that leads you...

best wishes,
Brett

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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Thu May 14, 2009 12:48 pm

Thank you brettz. I know Baha'ullah did not say that Israelis shouldnt come into the faith. But it is still difficult for me to accept that this universal perfect way of Life has restriction when it comes to a particular nation. the Bahai faith was the last theistic organized religion I was going to look into and I was quite excited by much of what I read. But i know if I became bahai I would still not be satisfied with issues such as this.

thank you
-juan
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh

brettz9
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby brettz9 » Fri May 15, 2009 4:12 am

But it is still difficult for me to accept that this universal perfect way of Life has restriction when it comes to a particular nation.


What may be even harder is accepting that all human life has restrictions when it comes to any particular nation or people. Why do some people have an opportunity to hear and live God's Word (or a culture that supports that) while others have no such opportunity? Why wouldn't He give everyone the same circumstances?

If the same God Who sends a Manifestation could allow that, why would it be inconceivable that He might allow His teachings to take account for the fact that not all nations could be delivered the message at the same time?

Remember, this is not some fixed law of the Baha'i Faith that says Israeli people cannot now or ever become Baha'is... Yes, it is a big challenge for someone to be expected to leave their country at this time, but it does not mean we are sitting in judgment of those who don't or that we expect Baha'u'llah to treat them at all harshly!*.

On the contrary, no people will be deprived of His blessings, including finding His will worked through them, even if they are unlikely to make certain high sacrifices for love of Him, no matter what country they are from. Each Baha'i is also supposed to pioneer (leave their country to teach where the Faith needs teachers)--but do most? Of course not. This is to be expected since God gives each of us a choice yet still has a place for everyone in His plan.

Other questions might be "Why are some people charged with teaching His Faith and really provided a greater opportunity to do so earlier than others (e.g., by the Faith starting in Iran, going next to this or that country, etc.)?" "Why do some people have an opportunity to live in peace, to hear and live God's Word as intended, and others are taught violence, materialism, and so on?" Or questions like, "Why must Baha'is born in a violent culture have to endure the 'restriction' of accepting martyrdom or persecution as necessary?" Or “Why does God take retributive punishment against a whole people, regardless of their individual merits?" (I'm not saying the latter about Israelis, because the opposite is true at this time in history, according to our belief.)

I think the answer is basically the same:
1) There will always be some level of mystery which we cannot unravel. Despite assuring that there will be compensation in the next world, even our Writings say that the the suffering of innocents is one which the mind of man cannot really fathom.

"The world is clearly beset by ills and is groaning under the burden Of appalling suffering. The trials of the innocent are indeed heartrending and constitute a mystery that the mind of man cannot fathom. Even the Prophets of God Themselves have borne Their share of grievous afflictions in every age. Yet in spite of the evidence of all this suffering, God's Manifestations, Whose lives and wisdom show Them to have been far above human beings in understanding, unitedly bear testimony to the justice, love and mercy of God."

(Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-86, p. 661)


2) Just because different peoples are given different challenges or opportunities doesn't mean that God will not consider their circumstances in making His ultimate judgment.*

3) While our Writings do indicate that it is our primary goal to recognize His Manifestation and obey His laws, it must also be considered that there is a vast spectrum toward "recognizing" Him (as well as obeying Him), and those who have an easier opportunity to hear of His teachings and participate in its community are not necessarily considered closer to Him than one laboring out of love for God without awareness of His latest Prophet, nor are they influenced any less by His teachings--'Abdu'l-Baha in fact envisioned the state of Israel and the jealousy of its enemies!

best wishes,
Brett

* 'Abdu'l-Baha indicates that those, even Who know not of His Prophet will indeed be judged differently according to their actions:

If he commits a murder, he will be responsible, whether the renown of the Prophet has reached him or not; for it is reason that formulates the reprehensible character of the action. When a man commits this bad action, he will surely be responsible.

(Some Answered Questions, at 267)

SpiritualSeeker
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Re: Jews and bahai faith?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Sat May 16, 2009 7:09 pm

Thank you brettz I have read your post a couple times. I will continue to ponder on it. Even though I tried to get past studying the Bahai Faith, I keep getting drawn back to some of the works by Dr. Motlagh. I will continue to investigate. Though this issue and the issue about women not serving in the house of justice are a big smack to me. But I am going to continue to see through.

Thanks !
-juan
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh


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