When was Qorrat al'Ayn born?

All research or scholarship questions
Dawud
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When was Qorrat al'Ayn born?

Postby Dawud » Tue Jun 15, 2004 1:28 am

Some sources say 1814, some say 1817. What say ye?

And while I'm asking, does anybody have biographical information for her three kids?

dawu d

Qurrrat al 'Ayn again

Postby dawu d » Sat Jul 24, 2004 12:30 am

Still waiting...

In the meantime I find OTHER sources that give her birth information as "1817- 1820". So, what's going on here?

I can see why Baha'is might want her to be younger than Baha'ullah, or (maybe) why someone might want them all to have been born in the same year. Is that it?

Apparently Marcia Gail wrote a book about Q-al-A based on conversations with her son. Anybody have that one? What happened to the son?

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Sun Jul 25, 2004 7:07 pm

>I can see why Baha'is might want her to be younger than Baha'ullah, or > (maybe) why someone might want them all to have been born in the
> same year. Is that it?

Or maybe they were simply honest mistakes, or honestly different conclusions based on different sources or indicators? Why the jump to cynicism?

Nabil's Narrative, as you may know, sets her birthdate at 1817-1818 (at p. 626 (footnote 3)).

'Abdu'l-Bahá in Memorials to the Faithful, states "They married her {Táhirih} to Mullá Muhammad, the son of Mullá Taqí, and she gave birth to three children, two sons and a daughter; all three were bereft of the grace that encompassed their mother, and all failed to recognize the truth of the Cause." (p. 191

One of the footnotes of the Dawn-Breakers mentions a narrative of her brother (at http://bahai-library.com/books/dawnbrea ... -84-1.html ) and p. 285 mentions the same one.

Other than that, I don't know of any other information.

take care,
Brett

dawu d

Postby dawu d » Wed Jul 28, 2004 1:12 am

Thank you Brett. I figured by now somebody would have published a decent summary of the sources on her, maybe even translated her writings. But NOOOO...!

I'm not jumping to cynicism, just thinking out loud is all. More probable is that various people just didn't know, or didn't care enough to make sure. Or maybe she didn't want people to think she was old!

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Fri Jul 30, 2004 1:31 am

:)

You might be interested then that there is now a work of Táhirih's poetry (40 of her poems translated into English): http://www.bahaibookstore.com/productdetails.cfm?PC=409 I was just at a Bahá'í bookstore today and happened to see it.

Doing a search at the Bahá'í bookstore online, I found two other titles which include details on her life and some of her writings, if it would be of interest:

http://www.bahaibookstore.com/productde ... fm?PC=2506
http://www.bahaibookstore.com/productde ... fm?PC=2113

Searching our site here, I found http://bahai-library.com/books/msbr/msb ... nabil.html

There is also a collaborative wiki website on Táhirih which has just started, but which has started to link to some other sources (including to a Wikipedia article): http://bahai9.com/wiki/T%e1hirih . Feel free to add any authoritative references to the latter page (or add links to non-authoritative sources).

take care,
Brett

dawu d

Postby dawu d » Sat Jul 31, 2004 7:19 am

Thank you again, Brett. I've taken the liberty of expanding / correcting the entry; hopefully others will do the same.

The concept of "authoritative" sources for history mystifies me. Baha'is of course recognize several religious or doctrinal authorities, but this would not apply to purely historical questions about someone who is not central figure of their faith...would it?

I've seen the on-line poetry translations, which sound God-awful in English--I hope the new book does better! Better yet, I wish someone would organize a "collected works" project that would include any theological prose of hers that may exist.

It's just not right that so many people revere her as a "feminist figure" but pay so little attention to her own writings and her own voice. Instead, she's been made into a kind of supplemental teaching material.

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Sun Aug 01, 2004 2:27 am

You said:
I've taken the liberty of expanding / correcting the entry; hopefully others will do the same.


And your additions looked pretty good to me too, from what I saw and according to my limited knowledge of the subject.


You said:

The concept of "authoritative" sources for history mystifies me. Baha'is of course recognize several religious or doctrinal authorities, but this would not apply to purely historical questions about someone who is not central figure of their faith...would it?


'Abdu'l-Bahá mentions in Some Answered Questions, Chapter 3 that a true Educator (what we call a Manifestation of God) must be possessed of a knowledge which encompasses not only the spiritual but also the material and what He terms the "human" (including the sciences, arts, government, etc.). And He argues in more detail elsewhere that this knowledge must be perfect in order for the expositions of these Manifestations of God to be trusted sufficiently to be accepted.

Of course, the purpose of the Manifestations of God is not to write detailed history books for us, but it is to put some perspective on historical events, or more importantly, to use these events to put some perspective on issues of current concern.

This is not to necessarily deny the possibility, as your words seem to suggest, that historical statements might be technically inaccurate out of context (or at least pushing typical norms of discourse) while doctrinally correct.

There is a certain acceptance of this as far as at least Shoghi Effendi's domain of infallibility.

Shoghi Effendi was asked several times during his ministry to define the sphere of his operation and his infallibility. The replies he gave and which were written on his behalf are most illuminating. He explains that he is not an infallible authority on subjects such as economics and science, nor does he go into technical matters since his infallibility is confined to "matters which are related strictly to the Cause." He further points out that "he is not, like the Prophet, omnicient at will," that his "infallibility covers interpretation of the revealed word and its application," and that he is also "infallible in the protection of the Faith." Furthermore, in one of the letters, the following guideline is set forth:

". . . It is not for individual believers to limit the sphere of the Guardian's authority, or to judge when they have to obey the Guardian and when they are free to reject his judgment. Such an attitude would evidently lead to confusion and to schism. The Guardian being the appointed interpreter of the Teachings, it is his responsibility to state what matters which, affacting the interests of the Faith, demand on the part of the believers complete and unqualified obedience to his instructions." (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice at http://bahai-library.com/uhj/infall.uhj.html )


The latter paragraph seems to be focusing more on the believers not exempting themselves from obedience rather than the believers not raising questions about the historical accuracy of events described within his works. However, another letter makes clear that Shoghi Effendi was "meticulous about the authenticity of historical fact." (at http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_infa ... rdian.html ) even though "Shoghi Effendi had to rely on available information."

Two other letters written on behalf of the Guardian mention this circumscription with a need for obedience (though again, not necessarily meaning an acceptance of historical accuracy of statements made):

"The infallibility of the Guardian is confined to matters which are related strictly to the Cause and interpretations of the Teachings; he is not an infallible authority on other subjects, such as economics, science, etc."

"The Guardian's infallibility covers interpretation of the revealed word, and its application. Likewise any instructions he may issue having to do with the protection of the Faith, or its well-being must be closely obeyed, as he is infallible in the protection of the Faith. He is assured the guidance of both Bahá'u'lláh and the Bab, as the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá clearly reveals." (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice at http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_infa ... rdian.html )


However, at least on some level, the same circumscription does not apply to 'Abdu'l-Bahá:

There is nothing in the Writings that would lead us to the conclusion that what Shoghi Effendi says about himself concerning statements on subjects not directly related to the Faith also applies to 'Abdu'l-Baha. Instead we have assertions which indicate that 'Abdu'l-Baha's position in the Faith is one for which we find "no parallel" in past Dispensations. For example, Baha'u'llah, in addition to His reference to the Centre of His Covenant as the "Mystery of God", states that 'Abdu'l-Baha should be regarded as God's "exalted Handiwork" and "a Word which God hath adorned with the ornament of His Own Self, and made it sovereign over the earth and all that there is therein..." And from Shoghi Effendi we have the incontrovertible statement that the Guardian of the Faith while "overshadowed" by the "protection'' of Baha'u'llah and of the Bab, "remains essentially human", whereas in respect of 'Abdu'l-Baha Shoghi Effendi categorically states that "in the person of 'Abdu'l-Baha the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized." (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice at http://www.bahai-library.com/uhj/infall ... lbaha.html )


However, if the above can be taken to mean 'Abdu'l-Bahá would not be limited in matters of history, at least when 'Abdu'l-Bahá has prefaced His statements as being based on others, etc., there is an admitted possibility of factual error:

One of the friends in Yazd wrote to him stating that the account given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in one of His Tablets about events related to the martyrdom of some of the believers in that place sas in conflict with known facts about these events. Shoghi Effendi replied saying that the friends should investigate the facts carefully and unhesitatingly register them in their historical records, since 'Abdu'l-Bahá Himself had prefaced His recording of the events in His Tablet with a statement that it was based on news received from Yazd. (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, at http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_infa ... rdian.html )


Rob Stockman draws attention to another further potential limitation:

'Abdu'l-Bahá is reported to have stated "I do not know everything. But when I need to know something, it is pictured before Me."[7] This statement bears remarkable resemblance to Bahá'u'lláh's description of revelation in the Tablet of Wisdom. Again, it expresses both divine access to knowledge ("it is pictured before me") and limitation ("I do not know everything"). (from "Revelation, Interpretation, and Elucidation in the Bahá'í Writings" at http://bahai-library.com/articles/inter ... .html#fnB5 )


Yet another caveat to consider is whether the statements may have been directed to a particular audience's understanding:

In considering the whole field of divinely conferred "infallibility" one must be careful to avoid the literal understanding and petty-mindedness that has so often characterised discussions of this matter in the Christian world. The Manifestation of God (and, to a lesser degree, 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi,) has to convey tremendous concepts covering the whole field of human life and activity to people whose present knowledge and degree of understanding are far below His. He must use the limited medium of human language against the limited and often erroneous background of His audience's traditional knowledge and current understanding to raise them to a wholly new level of awareness and behaviour. It is a human tendency, against which the Manifestation warns us, to measure His statements against the inaccurate standard of the acquired knowledge of mankind. We tend to take them and place them within one or other of the existing categories of human philosophy or science while, in reality, they transcend these and will, if properly understood, open new and vast horizons to our understanding.

      Some sayings of the Manifestation are clear and obvious. Among these are laws of behaviour. Others are elucidations which lead men from their present level of understanding to a new one. Others are pregnant allusions, the significance of which only becomes apparent as the knowledge and understanding of the reader grow. And all are integral parts of one great Revelation intended to raise mankind to a new level of its evolution.

It may well be that we shall find some statement is couched in terms familiar to the audience to which it was first addressed, but is strange now to us. For example, in answer to a question about Baha'u'llah's reference to the "Fourth Heaven" in the Kitab-i-Iqan, the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf:

      "Regarding the ascension of His Holiness Christ to the fourth heaven revealed in the Book of Certitude, Shoghi Effendi says that the phrase 'fourth heaven' is used to conform with the ancient astronomers' terms and theories which were upheld by the followers of the Shi'ih sect, and since the Book of Certitude was originally revealed for the guidance of that sect, the above phrase, therefore, was used in conformity with their theories."
          (Translated from the Arabic)

(from a letter on behalf of the Universal House of Justice at http://bahai-library.com/uhj/infallibil ... lbaha.html


Ok, now as far as why I have set up our local wiki to focus on authoritative sources even with these limitations, I think it will be interesting to put together a picture of what our Central Figures had to say about other figures (and events) in history, Bahá'í or otherwise (in chronological order, by name, etc.), whether to simply give a picture of our Faith's perspective on what has come before us (or how these examples are used) or to stimulate interest among Bahá'ís for further historical study, or for whatever other reasons. Also, if we allow the main wiki pages to be filled up with non-authoritative sources, it will be much harder at this stage to check sources or to ascertain which statements of fact some may add in are dubious. Nevertheless, I am presently allowing some lee-way as long as pages with such information are marked as being from non-authoritative sources and if the sources are cited (and preferably linked to its full context on the web). Yet another reason is that by sticking to quotations that fairlly clearly touch on the subject, we can allow for a clearer structuring of pages (e.g., with bolded headings rather than forcing people to have to read through the whole page or try to break apart the paragraphs that are used in essays or encylopedia articles). Of course, topics of a more general interest can be added at Wikipedia without such constraints.

I'm sorry to give such a long-winded answer to your question, but I think there are a lot of nuances necessary to touch upon to answer it (and I imagine there is much more that can be said as well).

You said:
It's just not right that so many people revere her as a "feminist figure" but pay so little attention to her own writings and her own voice. Instead, she's been made into a kind of supplemental teaching material.


Well, it seems to me that Shoghi Effendi might agree with you too:

"He would not call her the first suffragette, for this certainly was strictly speaking no part of her concept."

(5 November 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a group of individuals)

There is further guidance from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice on this quotation (along with another quotation from Shoghi Effendi) at http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_reco ... html#page7 (pages 7-8)

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Sun Aug 01, 2004 2:37 am

Oh, and although I don't know who posted it, the Wikipedia article states on Tahirih, "birth date uncertain. Birth records were destroyed at her execution."


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