Mohan's thoughtful posting refers to Prakash Narayan Mishra's
book on the Kalki avatar and to Jamshed Fozdar's *Maitreya*. By virtue
of their contributions as Baha'i teachers, doubtless these two authors
have contributed much that his valuable to the Baha'i/Hindu and Baha'i/
Buddhist encounters. In the Abha Paradise, as well as on earth, they
will surely quaff from chalices of pure light.

My problem is that, around fourteen years ago, my thinking
underwent a radical shift, in which I "graduated", as it were, from
the *search after proof* to the *search after truth*. This placed me
in the unenviable position of having to question the truth-value
(although not the legitimacy) of published Baha'i works on prophecy.

I underwent this psychological transformation due to several
factors, not the least of which was when I discovered some alleged
inaccuracies, and possible interpretive distortions, in *Kalki Avatar
ki Khoj (Hindi: *In Quest of the Kalki Avatar*) and later in *Buddha
Maitreya-Amitabha Have Appeared*.

Highlights of Mishra's work had circulated as one of those
badly-xeroxed typescripts that contributed so much to my early
deepening as a Baha'i. To make a long story short, I wrote a letter to
India to the editor of the latest critical edition of the *Kalki
Upapuranam* (one of eighteen minor Puranas, a kind of Vaishnavaite
*Book of Revelation*). This particular scholar offered to translate
the entire *Kalki Upapuranam* for me for a mere $100.00 U.S. I was too
poor to take him up on his offer, a source of lifelong regret for me.

The Hindu scholar did agree, at my request, to translate
Mishra's proof-texts from the *Kalki Upapuranam*. I had requested this
for my book which I was working on at the time, *Zoroaster and the
Mystery of the Great Reversal* (a non-Christian-oriented *Thief in the
Night*, which George Ronald took a casual interest in at one time). To
my utter shock and disillusionment, it appeared that Mishra's
translations and interpretations, as with most in the
prophecy-explication genre, did not agree textually, and certainly not
narratively, with the scholarly translations. It appeared to me,
moreover, that Baha'i authors, generally-speaking, exercised
latitudinal poetic licence in the selection, interpretation, and even
distortion of proof-texts.

There was a similar problem for me with the very concept of
*Maitreya-Amitabha*. To put it baldly, there is no such Buddha,
Buddhistically speaking, for the simple reason that *Maitreya* and
*Amitabha* were separate and even competing deities, each with their
own cults. Moreover, I could not accept the general view of prophecy
as represented in Fozdar's book. For example, I was not persuaded that
Habbakuk (sp?) foresaw *steamshovels*.

In 1981, I wrote a paper which ABS rejected again a couple of
years ago, as it had in the past, for publication:
*Was Baha'u'llah Shah Bahram Varjavand
Despite Zoroastrian "Prophecies"?*, in which I showed that most
Zoroastrian apocalypses represented a form of crisis literature, and
that these largely ninth-century compositions employed the literary
device known as *vaticinia ex eventu* (vaticinations or predictions
based on past events).

Thus, Zoroaster is made to say the the *dogs with disshevelled
hair* (the Arabs) would extirpate the fire temples, steal the bread of
Persians and also their women (in that order, as I recall). I
concluded that for Baha'u'llah to *fulfill* Zoroastrian prophecies,
their obvious meaning would have to be negated in favor of a more
egalitarian reading, which the texts did not really support. (I have
letters from Dasturs in Bombay to prove it!)

My point is that these *geneologies* Baha'i endeavor to
establish are methodologically and textually unsound. Furthermore,
such interpretations place even greater constraints on Baha'i universalism.

In my as-yet unpublished *Native Messengers of God in Canada?:
A Test Case for Baha'i Universalism* (a title editorially unacceptable
to Baha'i editors), I make the point that the Baha'i Faith stands in
dangers of ossifying into a nine-religion exclusivism, or something
similar. Instead of believing in just one prophet, many or most
Baha'is believe in nine to fifteen specifically-named prophets, to the
exclusion of other possible candidates, among which is Guru Nanak,
whom the beloved Guardian, evidently, was disinclined to accept even
as a *nabi*, as Mohan ventured.

Creating ersatz geneologies further complicates the problem,
because Buddhists are then obliged to follow Christ, and the Iroquois
are obliged to follow Muhammad. Prophetologically, Baha'i salvation
history then reads like the *Book of Mormon*, in which the Abrahamic
family of religions is seen as normative and every effort is made to
construct primordial and artifical geneologies among them. In this
effort, in the search after proof, the search after truth is
subordinated to missionary mercenary ethics.

But that's my own opinion as a phenomenologist of religion.
Back to fourth-century Syria, to work through that mid-life crisis
known as the proverbial *career change*.

BTW, a Talismanian asked about one of my references to
Muhammad as *Seal of the Messengers*. Here it is: *Glorified art Thou,
O Lord my God! I beseech Thee by Thy Chosen Ones, and by the Bearers
of thy Trust, and by Him Whom Thou hast ordained to be the Seal of Thy
Prophets and of Thy Messengers...* (Baha'i Prayers, p. 74).

Christopher Buck

* * * * * *
* * * Christopher Buck Invenire ducere est.
* * * Carleton University * * *
* * * Internet: CBuck@CCS.Carleton.CA * * *
* * * P O Box 77077 * Ottawa, Ontario * K1S 5N2 Canada * * *
* * * * * *

To: Paul,Easton,<>
Cc: Talisman,<>
Subject: Re: Marital Rape
Date: Tuesday, May 9, 1995 12:14:14 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


Dear Paul,

Speaking as one who has personally experienced marital rape, I
believe that the UHJ's letter on sexual abuse (dated January 24,
1993) does include marital rape when it states:

"The use of force by the physically strong against the weak,
as a means of imposing one's will and fulfilling one's desires,
is a flagrant transgression of the Baha'i Teachings. There can
be no justification for anyone compelling another, through the
use of force or through the threat of violence, to do that to
which the other person is not inclined. ...

From the Pen of Baha'u'llah Himself has come the following
statement on the subject of the treatment of women:

The friends of God must be adorned with the ornament
of justice, equity, kindness and love. As they do not
allow themselves to be the object of cruelty and
transgression, in like manner they should not allow
such tyranny to visit the handmaidens of God. He, verily,
speaketh the truth and commandeth that which benefitteth
His servants and handmaidens. He is the Protector of all
in this world and the next. (The letter does not note
where this quote is from ... I will check REFER to see if
I can find it, or if someone knows, please let us know.)

No Baha'i husband should ever beat his wife, or subject her to
any form of cruel treatment; to do so would be an unacceptable
abuse of the marriage relationship and contrary to the Teachings
of Baha'u'llah."

When Terry first read this letter to me over the phone (he knew
how desparately I needed to hear it and didn't want to wait to give
me a copy), I knew that Baha'u'llah and the House were referring
to the treatment which I had been subjected to - marital rape. It
is hard for someone to accept the fact that they have been a victim
of something so awful, but "the use of force ... as a means of
imposing one's will and fulfilling one's desires" in relation to sex
can be called nothing but marital rape.

I need to get my son to bed, so I am going to close now. However, I
do want to say that the UHJ's letter was the beginning of a long
overdue healing process for me, and my love for the House and for
Baha'u'llah for that healing knows no bounds.


Suzanne Croisant

Thanks to John and Sholeh for detailed postings on this subject.

I was relieved to see John had said it was difficult to advise Baha'i
students to go into Middle East Studies, not "impossible" to do so.
For surely we must keep our eyes out for those with the brains, tact,
and persistence to deal with the multiple marginalization they will
face. The alternative would be to write off the American Baha'i
community as hopelessly pietist and literalist to ever develop an
intellectual depth.

I would hope that, cynicism aside, all of us agree the American Baha'i
community is *capable* of developing its life of the mind much more;
furthermore, that it is slowly doing so; and that tolerance may be
increasing. I personally think the situation is much better than
this, but I am trying to state a broader position than the one I hold.

The vocational situation in Religious Studies is supposed to improve
over the next decade as those hired in the 1960s retire. Religious
Studies as a field underwent a huge expansion then, so there should be
a lot of vacancies. So far the vacancies have not appeared as fast as
predicted, I think.

I don't know what MESA is predicting about Middle East Studies. The
growing power and wealth of the Islamic world seems to suggest support
for Middle East Studies, overall, should increase. I can not speak
about the marginalization my Middle East Studies colleagues feel in
their field, but I can express my admiration for their successes and
accomplishments. It seems like there is an article or review article
by a Baha'i in every other issue of IJMES. The last time I looked, I
think two of the nine names on the masthead of *Iranian Studies* were
Baha'is. One of the twelve Middle East Studies programs in the U.S.
had a Baha'i at its head until recently (Juan, you're not chair any
more, right?). Perhaps the old adage, "we're number two but we try
harder" applies here.

I think there are several strategies that should be informally

1. Encourage minority and female Baha'is to enter Middle East
Studies, Religious Studies, the humanities, and the social sciences
more. As those of us in academia know, the pressure to hire
minorities is pretty strong. Religious Studies, I think, is about 5%
African American. The field is almost desperate to get more
minorities in its doctoral programs. Women are also badly
under-represented and are being sought. Linda, any suggestions?

2. Remind Baha'is interested in the above fields to prepare
themselves for a wide variety of employment alternatives. All the
above fields require good writing, reading, and analytical skills,
skills that are desperately sought in industry. Hence all of these
fields can provide a foundation for other alternatives for employment.

I do not think it is very practical to pursue any of these fields on a
part time basis, though it is not impossible. Those who have
succeeded in Baha'i Studies outside academic fields usually have been
physicians; though this may be historical coincidence. Those who want
to make big contributions to Baha'i Studies without studying the above
mentioned fields full time (and a few other fields, I suppose), will
need: 1) unusual determination and motivation, or extreme genius, or
considerable organizing ability; 2) native familiarity with the
relevant languages, or unusual facility with languages (and preferably
both); 3) the ability to read fast with understanding.

3) Emotional and other support from all of us for those entering
academic fields. I think of Nima's pained letter to the National
Spiritual Assembly (it was to the NSA, wasn't it, Nima?) of a year or
two ago about the anti-intellectualism in the New Mexico Baha'i
community and how much it hurt him. Probably most of us on Talisman
know what that feels like; some of us have experienced it to the
extreme. I have a few stories of my own.

By "and other" the biggest support I can think of is financial. I am
not just referring to all of us opening our own pockets to struggling
students, though that wouldn't be a bad idea. We need scholarship
support, preferably endowed. With the demands of the Arc, I don't see
any fund money budgeted for scholarships any time soon. Even the
four-year program we are starting up in Wilmette at National-Louis
University must be financially self-sufficient and has no financial
aid currently in its budget. So we must find wealthy Baha'is willing
to endow or annually support scholarships.

Other suggestions for things that can be done? No doubt a dose of
reality is a useful thing to give prospective Baha'i scholars; but all
they have to do is subscribe to Taliman for that (g).

-- Rob Stockman

Mark: My remarks with regard to Islamic fundamentalists needs to be
seen in the context in which I equated arguments for a distinctly Baha'i
science as very similar to the same arguments that have been made in Islamic
countries, notably in Pakistan , as I mentioned in the post . I do not think
that was or is an ad hominem argument. As you note fundamentalism is a call
to seperate from the world and I am unable to see how a call for a Baha'i
science or Baha'i studies as I understand how you have defined it to be all
that different from what some Islamicists have argued. This is also not ad
hominem . It is intended as a descriptive statement.
I do not find your comment on the Iqan persuasive . It may well be that
pages 190-200 are a call for how to investigate reality, i believe it has
more to do with openness to spiritual realities than that it provides a
research paradigm for neuroscience.
We probably do agree that the revealed word influences the very atoms of
existence and therefore influences the reflective capacity of human beings.
We may disagree on whether a Baha'i, who happens to be a neuroscientist,,,
will be capable of contributing greater knowledge of that discipline than say
one who is a devout Moslin or Christian or Buddhist or agnostic. There are a
great many agnostic and spiritually inclined scientists who have and are
making massive contributions to human knowledge . I fully expect that to
continue. I just do not see how one can , by virtue of simple being a Baha'i,
assume to have a greater understanding of science or anything else. To do so
places us in a sectarian mode and does not come to grips with the reality of
pluralism. If I make such claims as a Baha'i what is so very different from
that claim and the analagous claims made by those of other religious
traditions? In my heart of hearts I do not believe Baha'u'llah came to
replace one brand of religious hegemony with another. Try as I might I can't
fit a call for a "Baha'i science into a different category. I am open to such
a possibility I just do not see it .
As for a Baha'i approach to science , relationships etc. "barely
resemble(ing) those of modernity" I must say i find a great deal of
commanality with the world view of modernity and the Faith of Baha'u'llah. I
find references to fact , history , sociological truths in the Iqan that are
more than congenial with yes even empirical science as you and I would know
it in sociology.
Many of the giants of natural science were themselves deeply spiritual
beings as you well know . It is the pervasive belief in *Order* which
underlies the attempt to do science. The love of *beauty* motivates a good
deal of pure science. The autobiographical literature of scientific
practitioners is loaded with a love and appreciation of order and beauty.
Seems to me very Baha'i like attitudes.
I do not have the time to try and recapitulate the concept of modernity-
entire books have been written on this , both it's benefits and limitations .
While I do not consider modernity to be the final word with respect to human
development I shudder to think where we would be without it . Equal
opportunity before the law, the concept of the dignity of the human person,
in contrast to ascriptive honor. The very notion of the independent
investigation of reality is a modern attribute par excellance. Baha'u'llah
sacralized that idea, he did not invent it . He extends it from the realm if
exploring the our physical existence to our spiritual existence where in my
opinion it is sorely needed and in a global context is still not universal.
That modernity has been a struggle in the application of human rights
among others issues seems to me a reason for celebration. Humans have been
able to invoke a standard and apply it to to more inclusive human groupings
and spheres of life over the past 3-4 hundred years. there are still plenty
of people on this planet who woiuld turn the clock back > I would hate to see
Baha'i's fall into that category. That modernity has limitations, the
expression of positivism as TRUTH being one of them ought not be confused
with a rejection of modernity. Some of the best pieces on Talisman have dealt
with this theme . Juan Coles Trvellers Narrative commentary in January, Sen
McGlinn's Church/State piece at the same time, and Chris Buck's paper on the
Bisharet as sacralizing modernity among the best. They are examples to me of
Baha'i Studies at it's best. The very facx such thoughts were put to print
assumes the existence of Baha'u'llah's Revelation. They are conscious
attempts to do what the Universal House of Justice has called for in its 24
June 1993 letter regarding the study of the faith" . . the systematic study
of the Writings of the Faith , its history, and the application of its
teachings to the spiritual and material life of society. " What else could
be a definition of Baha'i studies ? I do not see this as a call to create
some seperate branch of learning guided by some special set of rules or
methods peculiar to itself. This is what I *hear * called for when Baha'i's
ask for Baha'i studies . This may not be what you mean . Much of this
concern about the restictions of modernity is not a Baha'i project. It is
shared by many other groups as well . Intellectually it is a continuation of
a long process ,at least in wetern thought. I commentedon this before in
terms of the Romantic rebellion against the French enlightenment. It was
paricularly pronounced among the German Idealists. You and I share many of
the same concerns about the limitations of modernity with them . They however
did nor outright reject modernity per se . We ought to be careful as well .
In a world rampant with political and religious persecution we ought to
align the Faith with the call to universal human dignity and spiritualize
that project , rather than unwittingly lend support to those who would invoke
pre-modern ascriptive standards. Any call for the overtrow of modernity makes
me nervous. I think as Baha'i's we do not have an appreciation of just how
remarkably modern Baha'u'llah was and how much he suffered and Paid the price
for His modernity. His calls for religious and political tolerance were
anything if not modern. Perhaps one of the places Baha'i's , scholars or not
can begin to make a difference is in a more nuanced understanding of the
benefits and limits of modernity. What is worth keeping and what is worth
rejecting . I think we do ourselves and the world a great disservice by
appearing to reject modernity outright. Our Prophet surely did not .

Last point . The comments of Baha'u'lah regarding old world orders or one of
my favorites from tab. of Maqsud " in asmuch as the prevailing order
appeareth to be lamentably defective . ." I believe these comments have more
to do with validating the emergence of a global society- a modern project-
and the rejection of the despotic government of the time and our time. I do
not see in it a rejection of modernity tout court. I think Baha'u'lah
intended to spiritualize modernity or civilize it if you will. I do not
think His aim was to reject or overthrow modernity . The last thing i see in
His remarks about old orders is a call for the Baha'i administration to
take over the world . You may not be calling for this though your
interpretation of old order and modernity could be read that way.
I hope this clarifies some of my earlier remarks and points to some
areas of possible agreement as well as highlights those areas where we may
legitimely continue to hold different points of view.
warm regards,

To: Mark A. Foster,<>
From: Juan R Cole <>
Subject: Re: Modernity History sc
Date: Friday, May 19, 1995 23:57:37 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


Mark: I think you have not entirely understood where Terry is coming
from with his comment about Muslim "fundamentalism." This is probably
because "fundamentalism" is a vague and unsatisfactory term.

In fact, there is a rather vigorous movement among Islamists who aim at
"Islamizing the social sciences" or the sciences more generally. The
people are often Ph.D.s or engineers, and they wish to adopt a "Qur'ani
paradigm" within which to do "science" of various sorts, including social
science. I agree with Terry that many of the things you and others
wedded to a "Baha'i studies" paradigm say sound an awfully lot like the
things these Muslim intellectuals say. Before you dismiss the
similarity, it might be worthwhile your taking a look at the Islamist
literature. "Interviewing" a few so-called "Muslim fundamentalists"
won't settle the issue, since the latter may not be part of the
"Islamizing the social sciences" movement.

I don't think "modernists" is a good term for me, John Walbridge, Tony
Lee, and other Baha'is who are willing to cede the sciences and social
sciences primacy with regard to the discovery of truth within their own
domains. This concession is simply obedience to `Abdu'l-Baha's own
principle. I don't think it needs a name--it is just being a Baha'i and
a rational human being. As for the position that scripture consists of
inerrant propositions that should always over-rule all conflicting
propositions, I think we all know what that is called in the U.S.

For me, Baha'i scriptures are a source of ethical values that are very
valuable in helping Baha'i scholars of various sorts do their work. But
those scriptures, revealed in specific human languages at specific times
to specific audiences, inevitably contain some propositions that are
historically conditioned and, in the light of later advances, incorrect.
You can then interpret them "symbolically" if you like. But Noah did not
live hundreds of years (Iqan); Socrates never met with or learned
anything from any Hebrew prophets; and so forth.

American Baha'is have created a somewhat "fundamentalist" culture in
which the Baha'i writings are taken as a sort of static and contextless
propositions about "reality," which are elevated above all other
propositions. This is partially because the people who created this
tradition were ignorant of the original languages, context and history
of the Faith; it was a mysterious, Oriental whole that challenged the
ordinary American viewpoint. It is also, quite frankly, because the
people who created this tradition were not very educated or possessed of
much in the way of broad culture.

Baha'is keep saying they want more "persons of capacity" in the Faith.
Well, I'm afraid that Talisman is a lot what their version of the Baha'i
faith would look like. Relatively few persons of capacity are willing to
subordinate reason and experience entirely to propositions extracted
acontextually from a body of scripture.

As for "modernists" being "afraid" and "cowering" before the authority of
modernity, I really think that remark was frankly insulting. It impugns
the motives of one's intellectual interlocutors. No one has made any
arguments on Talisman because they are afraid. We are seeking the truth,
which takes a great deal more courage than blind conformism.

Anyway, modernism is over with (or at the very least, if one takes
Habermas's riposte, is a project that has moved far beyond its founding
principles). The real question is what the Baha'i faith offers the
postmodern world.

cheers Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan

Subject: Re: Dawnbreakers & Myth
Date: Tuesday, May 23, 1995 1:58:52 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


Dear Robert,
Thanks for the thoughts ! What do you think is the one good idea? What
are some of the asides which you think more interesting that could be
expanded ? Not being a good analytic thinker it is harder for me to pick
these out . When Mark and I had our nearly two hour telephone conversation
we concluded he was more analytic and I was more synthetic.
The post is I think a break with with the dominant sense of time in
*modernity * . Time has pretty much been collapsed into profane time and is
homogenous. It is sort of like everything is in boxes and their relationship
only exists if it is a linear one in profane time.A few years ago I had a
series of experiences, mystical or otherwise, which shattered my sense of
conventional time . I think it was those experiences which opened up my
feeling about Dawnbreakers and of course the Siyah Chal experience of
Baha'u'llah and the Maiden. The past is still present in a future already
being born in the souls of humanity.In that sense the Dawnbreakers are still
alive and speak to me . They are more than metaphore or allegories . They
both are spiritual beings and represent( not a popular word I understand in
epistemology these days) spiritual realities which actualized in their souls
assist in the transfer from potentiality to actuality within my soul of the
*names * . As a result we can speak to one another , if I listen long enough
to learn the language. Does this make any sense? I see this in your
argument about Socrates and jewish pilosophers. There is a different sense of
time implicit in the argument, aside from Abdu'l Baha on infallibility. It is
in this sense that I find Sen's piece a confimation of your basic argument.
With apologies to Sheila , Dave, Alma and the other poets on the net I
am going to include a poem in which I try to capture one of those time
shattering experiences I had on the Declaration of the Bab a couple of years
ago . With that - a blessed Declaration(creation) to you all . I am going to
be spending the next 24 hours, incognito , . . on the Road To Shiraz !

"In the Beginning"

Ascending inward,
in the presence of light,
a passage, a portal,
The warnth of a mother, seen by a son,
to gaze upon such Beauty as one -
the darkness of twilight soon disappears,
no more darkness lurks around this night.
Passing the barrier,
naught but the celestial Beloved,
bathed in rich emerald Light.
Halted in awe, unable to progress.
The aching, the longing for His Beauty.
If only a brief scent or a caress for my heart,
the burning fragrance inhaled from the
flowing Robe of Light.
To know then an end,
to the forgetting
of this, - the Eternal Remembrance,
the Primal Point.

Warm Regards,

Subject: NZ Convention
Date: Tuesday, May 2, 1995 8:34:11 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


Happy 12th day of Ridvan!

Read the convention report from the America and felt like adding another
convention experience. In New Zealand we had 56 delegates attending the
conference. 9 Maori of which 7 were women (Maori are about 12% of the
population), two Pacific Islanders, 1 south african, 1 chinese, at least 5
persians, 1 dutch (me) etc. A diverse crowd. Our convention started of with a
welcome for the new LSA from former Ratana church members (see previous postings
by others), in the traditional Maori manner, speeches, return speeches, singing,
and the traditional greeting by pressing noses (breathing the same breath,
becoming part of each other. A great start to a convention that only got better
from there on. Not one unconstructive comment was made, no house rules were
necessary as we all longed to hear everybody speak, the delegates at the
convention raised 9 Arc units, this is a huge sacrifice considering that the
average income in New Zealand is less than half of the US income, and this is by
no means different for the delegates, however we all felt that there was no way
we could go back to our communities and appeal for more money if we didn't make
the utmost sacrifice ourselves. When people got up to speak, they were
challenged to finish there contribution by singing a waiata (song) in Maori
tradition. This greatly enhanced the flow and joy in the consultation. A former
member of the board of counsellors mr. Owen Battrick, died just before the
convention started (with his boots on, as the NSA of Great Britain wrote) in
Tahiti, his spirit and presence was strongly felt and a call was made for
teaching projects in his name. The consultation took place in the same way as
the Arc is being built; all levels and issues were addressed at the same time,
instead of this being confusing, it gave a much better flow to the consultation
and the whole agenda got addressed. There were tears, laughter and lots of
prayers. Man speaking about their worries for their children (especially the
youth), women speaking on economic development projects and scholarship, in
reference to the Arc we specifically discussed the spiritual implications of
sacrifice and how, in the western world, we have great trouble with sacrificing.
Advancement of women was consulted on in a both realistic and very uplifting
way, etc. It was a wonderful absolutely uplifting experience. And a great
privilege to be attending as a delegate. The delegates took two hours of praying
and meditating to elect the new NSA (1 Maori, 2 Persians, 1 Pacific Islander, 1
american (Ken Zemke) and 4 New Zealand Pakeha, 5 men, four women). At the
closure of the convention, the silly western approach was taken, with three
people lining up to say their prayers, this however was not to be, one by one,
delegates and members of the audience (which was large most of the time)
continued to chant and sing prayers in a multitude of styles and languages for
about an hour which was a beautiful closure to a momentous 4 days!


PS Here Down Under, I definitely think the 19 May letter was written to the NSA
of the USA (:, however we have studied it very seriously here in NZ and are
grateful for the audacity of the USA-NSA to request this meeting, otherwise we
would never have had such a beautiful document, from which we have taken much to

This was the first posting, right after the bombing.

______________________________ Forward Header __________________________________
Subject: OKC Baha'is OK, need prayers
Author: at INTERNET
Date: 4/20/95 12:07 PM

So many of the Baha'i friends from other areas have called to see if any of
the friends in Oklahoma City were injured in the bombing yesterday, I thought
it might help to put out a general reassurance. Although several of the
friends work in downtown buildings, none that we know of worked in the Alfred
P. Murrah Federal Building. Two of the friends you may know, Alex Resnick and
Esperanza Sabet, worked in the County Clerk's office 2 blocks over, and
although the windows were blown out all over the building, they got out
safely with barely a scratch. Alex has a souvenir piece of shrapnel that was
blown into his car, which he is grateful was not in him. It has been
difficult for the last 24 hours to get a phone line out to call and reassure
friends and family in other states. Amelia Movafagh Moncho got a call
yesterday from her husband Rocky's mom in Botswana, who had heard about it on
the BBC and worried that one of the friends she'd met here at their wedding
might have been hurt. News travels so quickly!
Our house is on a hill about 15 miles from downtown Oklahoma City. I felt
and heard the explosion and my first thought as my house and floor shook was
that one of the drunks who frequently take out my lawn and flower beds on
their way around our corner had finally plowed into our garage, it felt so
close! I ran outside and looked for wreckage of a car or maybe a crashed
airplane in my front yard and saw dark smoke blowing to the north from
downtown, far away, and a strange double-decker light gray mushroom cloud
ascending vertically from between the skyscrapers. I couldn't imagine that
any fire or gas explosion with smoke already that far dispersed, that far away
could have anything to do with that long, loud concussive shaking I'd felt,
until I realized that sound does, indeed take time to travel. I inexplicably
burst into tears and started muttering the short prayer for the departed as I
went into the house...I really felt a crush of death looking at that cloud. By
the time I turned on the TV there was a "tower cam" shot of the downtown area
on the news and shortly the Ch.9 helicopter rounded the north side of the
Federal Building and the newsman and I both gasped together "O my Lord God!"
seeing the whole north side of the building clawed away.It wasn't till my
husband called last night that I was reminded that a friend of ours worked as
head of maintenance in that building, and he had a window office on the first
floor on the north side. I couldn't imagine that he could be alive, there
being a void where his office had been, but after calling his house, his
sister-in-law said he was in University Hospital, all broken up and lacerated
and eventually recoverable. God is Most Merciful!
My personal feelings are that this is an opportunity for prayer vigils, to
listen to people who are stressed and shaken and reassure them that God still
is in ultimate control of the world, that He did not do this, nor allow it to
happen to innocent children out of spite or cruelty, but that perhaps in the
horrible sacrifice of so many lives there is a ransom that will turn hearts
around the world back to "our Father in Heaven, Who is able to deliver us
from our humiliations."
With so many souls to "pray into" the Abha Kingdom, to ease the violence
of their transition into the next world by our fervent intercession on their
behalf, we can hardly worry about our own small tribulations in life, which
can only strengthen us for the tasks ahead anyway.
In an attempt to do something, anything in response to the loss of so many
mothers and fathers and friends and children, the local people today are
wearing blue ribbons, the sky blue of the background of the Oklahoma state
Deepening on the Writings about tests as gifts from God, is helpful in
being able to talk to people who wonder how such an awful thing could happen
to some of the nicest people on earth. Deepening on the life of Muhammad and
His teachings would also help.
We worry also about a backlash against the Middle Eastern residents of
Oklahoma in the face of speculation about who the terrorists might be who
could do such a thing. I can't help but regret tremendously in hindsight that
we haven't done a better job in educating our predominantly Christian
neighbors about the truth of Muhammad's Mission and teachings, so that they
could not jump to erroneous assumptions about any evil intent against
Christians in the true religion of Islam. It will be even more difficult now
to defend Islam in the process of teaching the Faith, with this increase in
suspicion and hostility that is generalizing toward anyone of Islamic
This all further reinforces in my own heart the narrowing of our windows of
opportunity to freely teach the Faith in these harrowing times, when there is
a winnowing process: while some hearts are turned by tragedies such as ours
toward God for His mercy and relief, many others are hardened and made even
more cynical. We have to toughen our skin against the ridicule or scorn of
those who have been turned to chaff, and set our hearts to the urgent task of
more rapidly and effectively gleaning from the teaching field those souls who
have truly been prepared to hear the Message, and can benefit from
Baha'u'llah's healing Words.
We have not yet any organized service project in response to the bombing, I
think everyone's too shaken to think straight. As area Assemblies are able to
meet, perhaps that will be one avenue taken.

But for now, please, please take time to add your prayers to ours that
Baha'u'llah will guide us to turn this crisis to a victory of the spirit,
that these people's lives will not have been lost with no spiritual benefit
to the travailing society left behind.

Cindy Van Kley
Spencer (rural suburb of OKC), Oklahoma

This was the first posting, right after the bombing.

______________________________ Forward Header __________________________________
Subject: OKC Baha'is OK, need prayers
Author: at INTERNET
Date: 4/20/95 12:07 PM

So many of the Baha'i friends from other areas have called to see if any of
the friends in Oklahoma City were injured in the bombing yesterday, I thought
it might help to put out a general reassurance. Although several of the
friends work in downtown buildings, none that we know of worked in the Alfred
P. Murrah Federal Building. Two of the friends you may know, Alex Resnick and
Esperanza Sabet, worked in the County Clerk's office 2 blocks over, and
although the windows were blown out all over the building, they got out
safely with barely a scratch. Alex has a souvenir piece of shrapnel that was
blown into his car, which he is grateful was not in him. It has been
difficult for the last 24 hours to get a phone line out to call and reassure
friends and family in other states. Amelia Movafagh Moncho got a call
yesterday from her husband Rocky's mom in Botswana, who had heard about it on
the BBC and worried that one of the friends she'd met here at their wedding
might have been hurt. News travels so quickly!
Our house is on a hill about 15 miles from downtown Oklahoma City. I felt
and heard the explosion and my first thought as my house and floor shook was
that one of the drunks who frequently take out my lawn and flower beds on
their way around our corner had finally plowed into our garage, it felt so
close! I ran outside and looked for wreckage of a car or maybe a crashed
airplane in my front yard and saw dark smoke blowing to the north from
downtown, far away, and a strange double-decker light gray mushroom cloud
ascending vertically from between the skyscrapers. I couldn't imagine that
any fire or gas explosion with smoke already that far dispersed, that far away
could have anything to do with that long, loud concussive shaking I'd felt,
until I realized that sound does, indeed take time to travel. I inexplicably
burst into tears and started muttering the short prayer for the departed as I
went into the house...I really felt a crush of death looking at that cloud. By
the time I turned on the TV there was a "tower cam" shot of the downtown area
on the news and shortly the Ch.9 helicopter rounded the north side of the
Federal Building and the newsman and I both gasped together "O my Lord God!"
seeing the whole north side of the building clawed away.It wasn't till my
husband called last night that I was reminded that a friend of ours worked as
head of maintenance in that building, and he had a window office on the first
floor on the north side. I couldn't imagine that he could be alive, there
being a void where his office had been, but after calling his house, his
sister-in-law said he was in University Hospital, all broken up and lacerated
and eventually recoverable. God is Most Merciful!
My personal feelings are that this is an opportunity for prayer vigils, to
listen to people who are stressed and shaken and reassure them that God still
is in ultimate control of the world, that He did not do this, nor allow it to
happen to innocent children out of spite or cruelty, but that perhaps in the
horrible sacrifice of so many lives there is a ransom that will turn hearts
around the world back to "our Father in Heaven, Who is able to deliver us
from our humiliations."
With so many souls to "pray into" the Abha Kingdom, to ease the violence
of their transition into the next world by our fervent intercession on their
behalf, we can hardly worry about our own small tribulations in life, which
can only strengthen us for the tasks ahead anyway.
In an attempt to do something, anything in response to the loss of so many
mothers and fathers and friends and children, the local people today are
wearing blue ribbons, the sky blue of the background of the Oklahoma state
Deepening on the Writings about tests as gifts from God, is helpful in
being able to talk to people who wonder how such an awful thing could happen
to some of the nicest people on earth. Deepening on the life of Muhammad and
His teachings would also help.
We worry also about a backlash against the Middle Eastern residents of
Oklahoma in the face of speculation about who the terrorists might be who
could do such a thing. I can't help but regret tremendously in hindsight that
we haven't done a better job in educating our predominantly Christian
neighbors about the truth of Muhammad's Mission and teachings, so that they
could not jump to erroneous assumptions about any evil intent against
Christians in the true religion of Islam. It will be even more difficult now
to defend Islam in the process of teaching the Faith, with this increase in
suspicion and hostility that is generalizing toward anyone of Islamic
This all further reinforces in my own heart the narrowing of our windows of
opportunity to freely teach the Faith in these harrowing times, when there is
a winnowing process: while some hearts are turned by tragedies such as ours
toward God for His mercy and relief, many others are hardened and made even
more cynical. We have to toughen our skin against the ridicule or scorn of
those who have been turned to chaff, and set our hearts to the urgent task of
more rapidly and effectively gleaning from the teaching field those souls who
have truly been prepared to hear the Message, and can benefit from
Baha'u'llah's healing Words.
We have not yet any organized service project in response to the bombing, I
think everyone's too shaken to think straight. As area Assemblies are able to
meet, perhaps that will be one avenue taken.

But for now, please, please take time to add your prayers to ours that
Baha'u'llah will guide us to turn this crisis to a victory of the spirit,
that these people's lives will not have been lost with no spiritual benefit
to the travailing society left behind.

Cindy Van Kley
Spencer (rural suburb of OKC), Oklahoma

Thought you'd all like to hear the latest from Oklahoma City. I'll
send the others as I get them.

______________________________ Forward Header __________________________________
Subject: OKC Journal #9
Author: at INTERNET
Date: 4/30/95 7:07 AM

Friends, I haven't done anything "normal" since April 19th. Today, a Baha'i
Holy Day, we went to the park for a picnic and to the mall in Midwest City.
I was just overwhelmed and moved to tears (for the bazillionth time this
week!) to see that there were empty stores in both ends of the mall that had
been FILLED (no exaggeration) with giant 4'x8' freestanding foamcore
"greeting card" displays sent from sister malls (managed or owned by the same
management company, according to a friend of mine who works in the mall
office) all over the country. Each one creatively displayed the name of the
community that sent it, and was covered with expressions of sympathy,
prayers, hope, consolation and admiration for the heroic recovery work and
the spirit of our people. How they got the project coordinated, gathered the
comments of mall shoppers handwritten onto the big boards and shipped them
here so quickly (Nancy said they put them up 2 days ago!) I can't imagine,
but if anyone doubts the sincerity or usefulness of such an effort, let me
assure you the two "love rooms" were full of people reading the messages and
just weeping, weeping. You can't imagine the feeling (and I can't begin to
express it) of knowing the extent of support and sympathy directed our way.
Everyone is just a raw nerve at this point, from emptying, emptying...what?
Feelings, sorrow, anger, gratitude, worry, comfort, just everything -- it
all just tumbles out spontaneously to friends and strangers alike. You know
how people usually stand in an elevator or store checkout line and act like
they're alone in a crowd, just waiting for the uncomfortable moment to pass?
It just can't happen around here anymore, at least not in Midwest City where
I do my shopping. You don't have to know someone to know that they share this
one big SOMETHING in common with you. I've listened to so many complete
strangers share their grief or anger or just the added difficulty of their
life with me.
Yesterday morning while I was working at a friend's shop, a middle-aged black
woman came in, obviously dressed in funeral attire, to make some copies. She
said she'd just buried her cousin and had another funeral for the child of a
friend to go to in the afternoon. I was thinking she looked so blank, maybe
too far past grief. She asked to use the phone and called her children to
warn them that their father was leaving town after the funeral and would
likely be coming by to try to abduct them since he knew she had another
funeral, so to go to the neighbor's house. I couldn't help overhearing, of
course, and I asked if that was for real, and she said "Yes, but I can't even
deal with it right now, I can't even be mad at him." I was just stunned at
the impossibility of handling any more stress in this poor woman's life, and
I impulsively came out from behind the counter and told her, "sweetheart, I
just know you need a hug!" She just melted in my arms and dissolved into
tears. She must have been trying so hard to hold it together for just too
long. Then after a minute she said simply, "I can make it now, thanks" and
rushed to her next errand or maybe the funeral. I keep thinking there's a
city full of people going through the motions, just trying to get THROUGH all
this, but it just keeps coming in waves, grief upon grief.
It hangs over everything, coloring every otherwise normal activity. Should
they hold the Arts Festival (one of the biggest annual events here, a week
long, for which the tents and booths and decorations had already been put up
days before the bombing, but whose unfortunate location was just blocks from
the rubble site)? No, it was cancelled. Should the OKC Cavalry basketball
games go on in the Myriad Convention Center downtown, in spite of its being
used for meals and sleeping quarters for rescue workers? There's ongoing
In spite of everything else, people are helping people more than I've ever
seen before, almost like a city-wide compulsion. Just smiling at strangers in
passing, a common tradition in Oklahoma any time, has taken on a new nuance
of expression, like "you're probably hurting, too, isn't it sad?" in the tilt
of the head or the crinkle of the eyes. Maybe we're actually becoming "one
soul in many bodies", like one big heart. Is this how God has contrived to
transform humanity? We know Baha'u'llah told us it would be so, and
constantly adjured us to think and feel and act in just such a way. I opened
"Foundations of World Unity" by 'Abdu'l-Baha the other day for the first time
in years, and, of course in my present frame of mind, EVERYTHING related to
this whole bombing thing. Especially in the chapter on "The Need of Divine
Education", where he says such things as "How ignorant they are! That which
is forbidden by God they consider acceptable to Him. God is love; God seeketh
fellowship, purity, sanctity and long-suffering; these are the attributes of
divinity." (that pertains to the customer yesterday who had the nerve to tell
me that t, "God wants us to quit cooperating with this evil government and
refuse to pay taxes if we have to use a social security number, because you're
taking on the mark of the beast like it says in Revelations!" He must have
friends in the Militia Movement...). He also says on p. 73, "My admonition
and exhortation to you is this: Be kind to all people, love humanity, consider
all mankind as your relations and servants of the most high God. Strive day
and night that animosity and contention shall pass away from the hearts of
men.... Therefore love humanity with all your heart and soul. If you meet a
poor man, assist him; if you see the sick, heal him; reassure the affrighted
one, render the cowardly noble and courageous, educate the ignorant,
associate with the stranger. Emulate God. Consider how kindly, how lovingly
He deals with all and follow His example."
Well, you know how we sometimes read that stuff and think, "yes, we should
all be nice and good when we can, blah, blah, blah...", but now, having seen
that injunction put into action by people, the vast majority of whom never
heard those words nor knew just why they were doing it, I feel a great
urgency to spread that thought, broaden my "humanity hug" and say, "Look!
Look! THAT's what it looks like! It isn't just nice words to think about!
So now I think, what can we do to help now that we've offered our constant
prayers, sent monetary contributions for relief efforts and written letters
to the governor and mayor from our various Baha'i communities expressing our
love and support? RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS!!!!! All that neato stuff
'Abdu'l-Baha told us to do...just drop all our "important" things to do this
"most important" thing, wherever we live, just go and "be" 'Abdu'l-Baha for
as many people, preferably strangers, as you can. You don't have to tell them
you're a Baha'i or explain why you're doing it, as the ads say "Just do it!"

BTW, several people have EMailed me asking if they can use parts of my
journals for their newsletters to keep their community up on what's
happening. Yes, yes! Anyone everywhere. Also, if you missed it, we were NOT
able to participate in the National Day of Mourning service, but I know all
of your individual prayers had a healing effect anyway. Gosh, I feel like the
world is bathed in prayer these days. It feels great. Why didn't we think of
it before? I shared my growing collection of messages from Baha'is around
the world at Feast in Midwest City and they were so amazed and touched!
Well, this is even longer than my usual long-windedness! Much love to all,

From: Safa Sadeghpour <IZZYJ9Y@MVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: Greek philosophers travelling to the Orient
Date: Tuesday, May 16, 1995 4:54:46 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:



> Date: Mon, 15 May 95 17:33:41 EWT
> Subject: Greek philosophers travelling to the Orient
> To: talisman@INDIANA.EDU
> Sender: owner-talisman@INDIANA.EDU
> The traditions that the Greek philosophers studied with the Israelite
> prophets are unsupportable on chronological grounds. There is rather
> better evidence of contacts of other sorts with Persia, Babylonia, and
> Egypt. Philosophy started in Ionia, which was for much of that time
> a Persian province. The sources all agree that Pythagoras came from
> a Greek family settled in Phoenicia and that he studied in Egypt. Since
> there were long-standing Greek contacts with both Egypt and Syria,
> this is not improbable. On the other hand, there is really nothing like
> Greek philosophy in these countries.
> john walbridge
Yes... this is true but as you said "there is really nothing like
Greek philosophy in these countries." For instance, Egypt used
mathematics for only practical uses such as calculating the floodings
of the Nile without any interest in understanding the science for its
own sake. The same occurred in Babylonia regarding Astronomy and
Mathematics inasmuch as they had created it to support their
concept of astrology, and not for the understanding of the universe

Additionally, even if science emerged first from Egypt or Babylonia
it's dubious that this was the result of a REVEALED religion simply
because the evidence left of their polytheistic attitudes towards the
universe. Therefore, it seems at present that science and religion
appeared independently of each other in all societies in greater or
lesser scale. And this seems understandable since humans have wondered
about the nature of the universe since pre-historic times.

With Profound Love,

safa sadeghpour

To: Baha'i,Announce,<Bahai-Announce@BCCA.Org>
From: Miguel Watler <>
Date: Friday, May 12, 1995 7:29:07 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


Subject: Summer Projects, Poland.

Allah'u'abha dear friends,

The following is a short summary of teaching projects in Poland this
summer. which I am sending on behalf of the National Teaching Committee
of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Poland.

1. Szczecin, June 18-30, Direct Teaching.
2. Krakow, June 24 - July 8, Language Classes.
3. Poznan, July 8-22, Language Classes and Direct Teaching.
4. Katowice, July 22 - August 5, Direct Teaching.
5. Nowy Sacz, August 5-12, Direct Teaching.

(Summer School, August 13-20)

6. Bialystok, August 21-28, Cross Border Teaching with Lithuania.
7. Gdansk, August 28 - September 7, Teaching in Schools.

For more information about projects in Poland this summer, and
information for travelling teachers and prospective pioneers, please
contact the National Teaching Committee, Poland through this e-mail
address, or through the National Center at:

UL. Nowogrodzka 18A/4
00-511 Warsaw Poland
tel/fax (48-2)621-7954

With warm Baha'i greetings,

Miguel Watler, secretary of the National Teaching Committee, Poland.

Dear Mark and Jim,

You sound so embattled! Oh those masses of Philistines with their
faddishness, their lack of subtlety, their love of magic! I know the feeling.
I'm an artist and I know what I like too. As I put in my .05 today (I have
high self-esteem) I want to defend cults, especially the 12 step ones.

"The problem," Jim says, "is that America makes a religion out of every new
psycho-babble movement that comes along." That's certainly true! We're very
creative that way, very energetic, very hopeful, very eager, and we can make
a religion out of just about anything and we do.This is the land of the Power
of Positive Thinking and the land of Elvis, who, many insist, either never
died or has returned from the grave. The list of cults and cult-like
phenomena is endless. Sometimes people put on funny hats, sometimes they
mouth slogans, sometimes they murder, sometimes they hold seances. Sometimes
people lead conventionally rational lives in every way, but of course, their
faith in rationality is a little overdone, a little misplaced. The Lord,
after all, is Hidden. "For minds cannot grasp Me nor hearts contain
Me."(Hidden Words) Having human minds, we have to have mental images of what
we worship which are, by definition, wholly inadequate, even false.And our
community has a long way to go to being a Baha'i community. So as the Old
World Order collapses and the New one is born, we have to realize that for
all of us old and New are mixed up within us. For all of us, no exceptions
since Abdu'l Baha. We use inadequate pictures, clumsy symbols to grasp at the
truth. If we don't labor over our language we speak in cliches. In many
groups people have favorite cliches which they use to show their membership.
What a bounty!;-)AA has proved very popular and as a discourse that
encourages working in groups, a form of consultation, abstinance from
mind-altering substances and seeking refuge in God, as well as tolerance in
matters of doctrine("Higher Power") and, despite its "neo-Lutheran" sources
involves in the 12 steps a program which stresses the need for works as well
as faith, and has provided inspiration and assistance and a fertile field of
teaching for many Baha'is, who have often, unfortunately, found Baha'is, even
when not sociologists hostile to depth psychology, judgemental and unhelpful.
Birf was created as a support group for people in support groups to help them
bridge the gap to their Baha'i community, and to help them teach. Birf really
is in many ways an early teaching institute. The other thing about Birf is th
at it exists to help Baha'is deal with the fact that they often have a
stronger sense of community in their AA groups than in their Baha'i
community, where people often want to pretend they are perfect.

Now, in its cultish aspect, people do turn to 12 step programs, as to
anything else, as if it were a religion. They try to make it into what they
are seeking, and of course, it isn't, and when people look to anything to be
what it isn't,distortions arise. The same goes for anything. AA is for the
people who go to the meetings. A movement has grown up around it because the
power and beauty of people working together in such a way for such a purpose
is attractive, and people want to be a part of it. If they have to define
themselves as victims for "a trace of the traceless Friend" they will do it.
Whether this is wise is not the question, although I don't think it is as
black and white an issue as you have painted it.Popularizers like John
Bradshaw and Melody Beatty and many others have tried to extend the
application of the 12 steps for a lot of reasons. The idea of codependency as
it expands to take in the whole population becomes a psychologized way of
saying that the society is spiritually sick. I think we can agree on that.
Don't be so hard on John Bradshaw for trying. He's not the Divine Physician!
In any case, the attempt to define it as a psychiatric condition is far from
the strongest way to make a case for it. Codependency is a
relationship-effect, and descriptions of it grew out of family therapy.The
condition of codependency is simply a condition of being under stress because
of acting out within the family. People react to stress in many ways. As far
as the DSM IIIR is concerned, syndromes like posttraumatic stress disorder
can be invoked to describe the symptomology that can be involved. The
diagnoses in DSM IIIR are merely descriptive, anyway, they do not establish,
except in a few cases, definitive disorders, as in even such a condition as
schizophrenia, specific etiology is unknown. Family therapy and group
therapy and group family therapy can be very effective. I have seen it work.
Critics who analyze social trends themselves labor under the delusion that
they can put their finger on the nation's ills and show people the way. As
people move from one clumsy geuss at what God wants to another, we should not
be concerned to criticize their efforts but to praise them and show them
where they are correct and not only share what we know but enlist their aid
in helping us to understand the Teachings. That is teaching.
We have to have images and metaphors to form our understanding of things.
We cannot create culture out of thin air. Culture comes from culture as
language grows from language.When we say we want new Baha'i ideas *rather
than* ideas from elsewhere, we are saying that we want to pretend to
originality and refuse to admit where our ideas come from. Originality for
humans means recombining, resynthesizing what is around us. As Baha'is we
spend most of our time reducing our own faith to a static complacent parody
of itself and abandoning our God and ourselves by worshipping our paltry

About seances...How many times did Abdu'l-Baha speak to Theosophical
Societies? How did He speak to them? Did He concern Himself with exposing
Madame Blavatsky as a fraud?

It rained so hard the night I left
The weather it was dry

And was so hot I froze to death
Suzannah, don't you cry!

with a banjo always on my knee,

david taylor

To:,(Foad Shodjai)
Cc:,(Talisman Group)
From: "S. Tedjarati" <stedjara@HK.Super.NET>
Subject: Re: Looking for...
Date: Wednesday, May 3, 1995 16:05:38 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


Dear Foad,

> I am looking for references on the followings:
> 1. the early gathering of the verses of the Quran and its
> compilation in a written form. I like to know the medium on which it
> was recorded and the year.
> 2. any inventory of the Hadith? how many?
> I am looking for references where I can refer to these, Baha'i or
> not. Please either reply to me privately, or post to the group.

Some quick references for you about Qur'an and Hadith:

1. Siyyid-i-Rusul - Hadrat-i-Muhammad Islam va Mazahib An
Dr. R. Qadimi

Pages 38-57. He explains about both these subjects.

2. Zindiganiy-i-Muhammad
Dr. Muhammad Husayn Haykal (2 vols)

One of the best books on the subject available in Persian.

3. Tarikh-i-Anbiya
N. Olyai

Not the best reading but quite a bit of information there.

4. Muhammad - His life based on the earlist sources
Martin Lings

No specifics on what you want but is quite resourceful.

For a more comprehensive listing, I am sure Ahang and others can supply
several mega-bytes of information any time ...

S. Tedjarati e-mail: stedjara@HK.Super.NET
Unisys China/Hong Kong LTD Tel: (852) 879-3850

1. In regard to the various views expressed about the nature of God
(personal or unknowable), the relationship of Baha'u'llah to God (human or
very God of very God), salvation, and other theological issues: These
matters cannot be settled in the Baha'i Faith, and should not be. Some
religions, such as medieval Christianity, made the mistake of thinking
that religion was about right doctrinal belief (otho-doxy). Baha'u'llah
and `Abdu'l-Baha had nothing but contempt for this definition of
religion, wherein St. (!) Augustine has Pelagius burned at the stake for
believing in the wrong doctrine of salvation. The "Right Doctrine" idea
of religion derived from the idea that every proposition is either true or
false and cannot be both at the same time (the Aristotelian "excluded
middle"), and that true propositions are universally (acontextually) true.
Thus, the doctrinal proposition "Jesus is God" was either true or
false; if true, it had to be imposed on those (the Nestorians e.g.) who
did not accept it. A good deal of bloodshed and rancor was thus generated.
Baha'u'llah rejected Aristotelian epistemology. For him, a
proposition is not universal. Its truth-content depends on *who* asserts
it, upon that person's stage of spiritual evolution, and when it is
asserted. All metaphysical propositions are highly contextual and relative,
none are
universal. Baha'u'llah's insight here (which goes back to Sufism and the
School of Isfahan, no doubt, though I haven't traced epistemology that way)
is very modern. I think, as Susan Brill showed, it has resonances with
Wittgenstein. As a historian, I find it extremely congenial.
Therefore, if Baha'i X says, "Baha'u'llah is God," then that reflects
that individual's stage of spiritual progress. Moreover, the proposition
makes sense only on certain planes. Thus, Bijan has pointed out that the
Manifestation is in the Station (maqam) of the Self of God only in the
realms of Amr (Command) and Creation (khalq). But it would be wrong to
assert such an identity at the level of, e.g., Hahut, wherein God
subsists alone and there is nothing but Him (`Abdu'l-Baha's Commentary on
`I was a Hidden Treasure.')
So we do not have a universal doctrinal proposition that can usefully
be pressed on every Baha'i. We only have a proposition of the following
sort: "Baha'i X, who has reached such-and-such a spiritual plane,
perceives Baha'u'llah to be God (in the worlds of Command and Creation)."
One can add, "Baha'i Y, on the other hand, who subsists on such-and-such
spiritual plane, perceives the historical Baha'u'llah to be human
(especially with reference to the plane of Hahut)."
If things are put thus, there is no need to burn anyone at the stake
or indoctrinate anyone into a universal theology; indeed, that would be
wrong. The logical response to a doctrinal statement from a fellow
believer with which one disagreed would be, "Hmmm, Cole seems to be
thinking about Hahut today."
As I tried to show a couple of weeks ago, Baha'u'llah *also* did not
think that religion is about Law, which has tended to be the Judaic and
Islamic emphasis.
If religion is neither about Right Doctrine nor about Law, then what
is it about? Baha'u'llah is clear: it is about human acquisition of
divine perfections.
How are perfections acquired and incorporated into the character?
First of all, life in this world, a social life in which the individual
must navigate between Self and Other, is *in itself* a means of acquiring
perfections. Thus, a Chinese Communist who has never been religious or
believed in God is nevertheless by virtue of living in the world on a
path of potential perfection-acquisition, assuming she learns to
implement the Golden Rule.
Universal, "Natural Religion" is the school of hard knocks. Adopting
a Manifestation of God as a Teacher is a way of potentially advancing
more quickly and avoiding certain pitfalls. The most recent
Manifestation is teaching the most accessible syllabus. But not every
Baha'i is ipso facto more advanced in perfection-acquisition than every
Chinese communist.
"Salvation" is thus perfection-acquisition, which is in turn based in
the essential insight that we should do unto others as we would have them
do unto us. This is not a platitude or a reduction of religion to dry
ethics. Perfection-acquisition is a rollicking spiritual adventure,
beset with the depths of self-hatred and the peaks of ecstatic insight.
What Baha'u'llah means to say at the beginning of the Aqdas in
asserting that both recognition of the Manifestation and obeying His
commands is a primary duty, and that neither of these is "acceptable"
without the other, is that an accelerated *perfection-acquisition*
beyond what can occur in "natural religion" depends on both
attaining mystical insight into the Manifestation of the Age and upon
disciplining the `soul at the command of evil' through striving for
obedience to His commands.
"Salvation," like "Right Doctrine" has no absolute, universal
meaning, anyway. It is individual-specific, plane-specific,
context-specific. It is not about Right Doctrine, nor essentially about
Law. It is about "labayka," about the profound response of the soul to
God's call to the world of perfections.

cheers Juan Cole, History, Univ. of Michigan

From: Juan R Cole <>
Subject: Re: dogma and liberation
Date: Tuesday, May 2, 1995 0:21:32 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


Gee, Linda, I thought I was supporting my dear friends Ahang and Bijan.
I was saying that Ahang's "high theophanology" is just as valid as my
quest for the historical Baha'u'llah. Of course these learned gentlemen,
reared in this glorious Faith and steeped in its scriptures, do not need
my support. But let my message not be seen as having been negative (at
least not toward anyone but St. Augustine; I have trouble forgiving
people who burn others at the stake for thought crimes. As for the
contemporary Vatican, it actually tried Hans Kung and Schillebeeckx (sp?),
silenced Leonardo Boff, etc., etc.; I think dogma is extremely important
both to the Pope and to Ratzinger, and that they move against Catholic
intellectuals on that basis.)

Tim: I had earlier cited Baha'u'llah Himself, from an untranslated
Tablet in Iqtidarat, p. 167: "This Revelation hath not come for the sake
of implementing outward laws, as is inscribed in the Bayan by the Pen of
the All-Merciful. Rather it hath come for the sake of the manifestations
of perfection in human souls and the ascent of their spirits to the
stations of everlasting life." (provisional).

Baha'u'llah's dismissive attitude toward dogma is evident throughout His
writings, especially in his Tablet to Manakji via Mirza Abu'l-Fadl and
his Tablet to Jamal-i Burujirdi. In the latter he explicitly says that
the difference between those who believe Baha'u'llah to be God and those
who emphasize his humanity is a result of the differing spiritual planes
and perceptions of the believers. The Tablet has been translated in
Baha'i Studies Bulletin.

The point is not that we should disregard the laws or that we have no
common beliefs or discourse. It is that the laws and the religious
discourse have as their purpose our acquisition of perfections. If we
import ego into the matter and fall to squabbling about the definition of
Baha'u'llah's station, we may think of ourselves as defending
Baha'u'llah; but in fact, we are departing from the right path since this
squabbling is detracting from perfection-acquisition. I was not
directing my comments toward anyone in particular (maybe even was
reminding myself to "do the good I know" [o.k., Augustine said some good

Tim's questions are pertinent, but most seem to assume that I was
advocating an absolute relativism. There is a difference between saying
that a statement is only meaningful in a certain context and saying that
there is no truth. Here, I think the later Wittgenstein has many of the
answers. (That is, is helpful in approaching Baha'u'llah's
non-Aristotelian theory of propositions).

cheers Juan Cole, History, Univ. of Michigan

Dear Juan, you wrote:

> Baha'u'llah rejected Aristotelian epistemology. For him, a
>proposition is not universal. Its truth-content depends on *who* asserts
>it, upon that person's stage of spiritual evolution, and when it is
>asserted. All metaphysical propositions are highly contextual and
>relative, none are universal.

Juan, I might agree with this, but I'm not sure what it means.
If someone says: "The condition of one's soul in the next life is affected
(n.b. affected, not determined), by how one lives in this life." Is this
not universal? Under what conditions would it not be true?
I understand and agree with the principle that a proposition might be
true in some circumstances and not in others. So, I think many statements
are not true unconditionally; context does matter. But
are there absolutely no statements which are universally true?
Actually, there must be some, because the proposition: "No propositions
are universally true." is itself a statement which claims to be universally
true. That proposition denies itself.

As to the idea that

> Its truth-content depends on *who* asserts
>it, upon that person's stage of spiritual evolution, and when it is

I think I see, through a fog, what you mean, but I would like a clearer
understanding. Suppose someone says: " Every human being has a non-material
eternal essence which survives physical death."
How can the truth of a statement that the soul can the truth
of this statement depend on who says it? I certainly agree that the
understanding of what the statement means depends on who says it, but that's
a different matter. My understanding is that an eternal essence
exists in every human being, whether they believe it or not. The reality of
the soul is objective not subjective. I say objective, but not empirical of
course. By objective reality, I mean something which actually exists
independent of our belief or disbelief.

As to the truth of a proposition depending on a person's stage of spiritual
evolution.....I agree partially. But this idea seems of limited usefulness
because it is very difficult, maybe impossible to know one's own stage of
evolution, much less that of others. Actually, I would rather say that the
*understanding* of the truth of a statement depends on the stage of
spiritual evolution, but metaphysical truth does not depend on anyone's
stage of spiritual evolution. For example, to turn to Baha'u'llah is to
turn to God; to obey Baha'u'llah is to obey God. I say those statements
are true regardless of what anyone believes or disbelieves, regardless of
anyone's stage of evolution. I admit that individuals will differ on the
exact meaning of those statements, because people differ in their
understanding. This is only a truism.

Now, suppose someone else objects to what I just said above, in the
following way:
"Baha'u'llah said 'be a flame of fire to My enemies' (Tablet of Ahmad).
This means we should persecute those who oppose the sacred
teachings. Persecution of those whose views differ from
mine is NOT godly, therefore obeying Baha'u'llah is not equivalent to
obeying God."
That is the supposed objection.
I think the answer to that objection is obvious, so I won't go into it here.
Is this an example of what you mean when you say the truth of a
proposition depends on who says it and on his stage of spiritual evolution.?
Is that what you meant?

you continue:

> We only have a proposition of the following
>sort: "Baha'i X, who has reached such-and-such a spiritual plane,
>perceives Baha'u'llah to be God (in the worlds of Command and >Creation)."
One can add, "Baha'i Y, on the other hand, who subsists on >such-and-such
spiritual plane, perceives the historical Baha'u'llah to be >human

But how is it possible to know, for sure, what spiritual plane another
person has reached? I don't know that even for myself!

In your example, concerning the human or divine nature of Baha'u'llah
....isn't it plain that these observations complement each other, that
neither, by itself, is complete? Each statement is both true and not true.
Is that your point? If so, I agree.

You also say:

> If religion is neither about Right Doctrine nor about Law, then what
>is it about? Baha'u'llah is clear: it is about human acquisition of
>divine perfections.

I find a couple of quotes helpful here:

"The essence of religion is to testify unto that which the Lord hath
revealed, and follow that which He hath ordained in His mighty Book."
-Words of Wisdom

"God's purpose
in sending His Prophets unto men is twofold.
The first is to liberate the children of men from the
darkness of ignorance, and guide them to the light
of true understanding. The second is to ensure the
peace and tranquillity of mankind, and provide all
the means by which they can be established. "

It seems to me that the second purpose, noted above means we cannot
ignore the Law, since the "means" by which "peace and tranquillity"
"can be established" involve obedience to the laws given by the Prophet.
This tension between following the spirit and obeying the Law, is an ancient
problem, as you of course know. Baha'u'llah's principle that neither is
acceptable without the other is the only sensible resolution I know of.

You continue:

> But not every Baha'i is ipso facto more advanced in
>perfection-acquisition than every Chinese >communist.

Yes, of course. The word "Baha'i" for some people is just a label, which
tells little about the person who wears it. Then there are Baha'is who
actually do persevere in trying to live up to the teachings. Of course a
communist or anyone else might be more spiritually advanced than someone who
calls himself Baha'i. After all, "communist" is just a label too. Abdu'l
Baha is reported to have said we should love the light from no matter what
lamp it shines. If the lamp bears the label "communist", that is
insignificant compared to the light that shines from it.

The paradoxical truth is that faith in God, and in the Messenger of God,
is not necesasarily connected with good character. I don't know why this
is so.

with affectionate thoughts,
Tim Nolan

On 29 April, Steve Scholl posted an excert from an essay by Rosemary
Radford Ruether dealing with the question of how she could justify
staying in the Church when it had a history of profound
institutionalized misogyny, racism, intolerance, support for slavery,
etc. It is a very interesting statement of the sort of heart-searching
that a sincere Christian is undergoing, but I think we must be careful
of transferring its implications wholesale to the Baha'i Faith.

She writes:
> If this is the case, then the ancient "rule of faith"--that what has
> been continuously taught by the church, at least most of the time and
> in most places, is a trustworthy guide to true doctrine--is not so.
> . . .
> However, in the case of the denial of women's full membership in the
> body of Christ, as well as earlier, now more or less discarded
> teachings justifying slavery, racism, and anti-Semitism, we have not
> only corporate institutional abuse of large groups of people, but
> ofcial teaching justifying such abuse. It is claimed to be the will
> of God, to be in accord with the intentions of Christ.Not furtive
> sinners, but serious churchmen--in the full solemnity of
> their teaching ofce--proclaimed, taught, and re-enforced such views,
> not here or there in odd moments of particular crisis, but
> continuously, in some cases over most of the 1,900 years of Christian
> history. Since the mission of the church is to proclaim and promote
> salvation, the salvation made known in Christ, we are also talking
> about a fundamental apostasy to its vocation as the church of Christ.
> If such teachings are records of continuous apostasy, the teaching of error
> and moral evil, then what do we make of the reliability of church
> teaching authority, and the sustaining presence of the Holy Spirit in
> that teaching?

Taking for the moment just the question of the position of women in the
Church, Ruether sharply criticizes the historical record of misogyny in
the church both in term of practice and theory. From this she concludes:

> In my view there are only two options: Either such teachings do
> represent normative Christianity, in which case this is a religion
> that sacralizes evil,and we should get out of it posthaste. Or else
> prophetic truth and justice is preserved in biblical and Christian
> history more in the minority communities andthe critical edges of the
> Christian churches than in the mainstream. This does not mean that an
> idea is true simply because it is a minority opinion. But we must
> give up the long-held assumption that the majority tradition has
> a guaranteed likelihood to be right.

I am not certain that Baha'is would go along with such an analysis. If
we take seriously Abdu'l-Baha's assertion that the Baha'i dispensation
is the first one in which the equality of men and women has been
authoritatively asserted, then it may be that in fact, those teachings
proclaimed by the Apostles and Church fathers that today, looking
backwards, appear to us hopelessly misogynistic do, from a Baha'i
standpoint, "represent normative Christianity."

In case I am misunderstood, I would hasten to add that I do not think
that Jesus Christ purposefully taught misogyny as a part of
Christianity. Rather what I am trying to say is that the equality of
men and women was a part of human evolution that could not be achieved
in Christ's time and therefore Christ allowed the inequality to
continue by not specifically advancing teaching that would promote
equality. A similar analysis could be made about slavery.

In brief, I think we must guard against looking backwards at the
history of religion and making judgements based on today's social and
ethical criteria. Much the same sort of inapproapriate judgement of
Islam goes on in the Christian West all the time of course.

The Baha'i belief in progressive revelation does not involve looking at
religions as they present themselves today and making judgements about their
teachings using today's social and ethical standards. Much as it may
pain scholars in the liberal tradition, it seems to me that the Baha'i
teachings imply that God in fact permitted such social phenomena as a
lower social status for women and slavery in past ages, and such
permission is in fact reflected in the scriptures of past religions.

Having said all that, I think Steve is right in pointing out Ruether's
"ability to stand firm within her faith despite the painful recognition
of the Church's deep problems (theological, social, legal,etc.)" and
stating "for those of us who have difficulties with the status quo of
the Bahai Faith, there is a lesson to be learned from her firmness."


Wendi and Moojan Momen
Fax: (44) 1767 627626

Subject: youth and scholarship
Date: Tuesday, May 30, 1995 6:18:01 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


Dear Friends,
Many of you know I spend many of my week-ends teaching a youth class
at our Omaha Bahai Academy.
This past weekend one of my students died. His name is Salmon
Deloughery. He would have been 14 in a couple of weeks . His heart and lungs
gave out following several hours of reconstuctive heart surgery.
This a net dedicated to scholarship so that is why I wanted to
mention Salmon to all of you. He was not only a joy to be around as a person
, but also a young scholar in the making . He asked penetrating questions,
had a zest for understanding the Revelation, and contributed insights unusual
for someone of his age . At least in my experience he was unusual .
Salmon at 13 was very interested in boilogy and cosmology. He had a
scientists mind and a mystics heart. If ever I had a prize pupil he was it .
Here was a boy who was enthralled with Darwin and evolution and found no
conflict between scientific accounts of the development of species and the
meaning of that development as described by Abdu'l Baha. We would talk of
David Bohm's implicate order , he beginning of time all as manifestations of
the descent of the ONE to the Many. Science for him was about the exploration
of the manner in which spirit wove it's tale in physical form. Religion was
about what all this meant and how we could live in harmony with it . He spoke
of being an astronaut and exploring the universe and when I told him if
Baha'u'llah quoting Rumi on the universe being enfolded within us, his eyes
lite up and there was that mystics recognition of the universe within and
without. He thought a moment and concluded that perhaps one day we will all
become spiritual astronauts as well .
The last time I saw Salmon he came to me quietly and handed me a small
present and said " my mom says I am to give you this gift because you are my
teacher." We just sat in our classroom for a while with our arms around
each other . The gift was a package of napkins embroidered with tulips. I
explained to him tulips are the flower of sacrifice and martyrdom . HE looked
at me with his huge bright eyes , ran his hand through his red hair and
thought for a moment , smiled and nodded his head. I would like to think his
life and death will be a sacrifice for Baha'i scholarship. In all my years of
teaching classes I think that one small act was as meaningful to me as
anything I have experienced . I -- was his teacher. Whew !
I guess my telling you all this is my way of dealing with the loss and
because I think of so many of you as family. Salmon was a great kid ! And I
am giong to miss him !
love ,

On Sun, 21 May 1995, Michael R. Ranjbar wrote:

(quoting the Master)
> "... for when the motivating and guiding power is the divine
> force of MAGNETISM, it is possible, by its aid, to traverse time and
> space easily and swiftly."

> Here it seems clear to me that Abdu'l-Baha has literally named the
> force that will be involved in both space and time travel.
> ... I can say with
> certainty in my heart that magnetism is somehow implicated in
> space in time travel, this would most assuredly spare me years of
> dogged research and allow me to make a jump mentally that could
> yield great fruits in the field of science.

I wholeheartedly agree, both with the underlying principle of accepting
the Prophet's and the Interpreter's words wholeheartedly as our first
response to them, and this particular application of that principle.

The more I reflect on the nature of "empty space" the more convinced I am
that there is an undiscovered reality out there. Yes, I am returning to
the subject of the ether, but just briefly enough to say this. In His
Tablets in BWF the Master says that light and heat and *magnetism* are the
"waves of the ether." Now, science accepts that "empty space" is not
really empty; obviously there are FORCES in space; these forces operate,
for example, to create the tides on the earth, etc. What are these
forces? We are speaking of gravity, which to me is one example of the
"magnetism" the Master speaks of as a wave that is an attribute of the

I, too, am not an optical scientist, nor a geophysicist. But I am an
intelligent human being, and I can look at my universe and can say, "We
don't know everything about this place." All it took was some
understanding of previously invisible and unknown forces, to invent radio
and laserdiscs and microwave dinners.

One day, a scientist will take another look at the above quote; a
scientist with information sufficient to DO something with the direction
the Master here is pointing. Then, in time, when the nature of the ether
and the waves of that ether are understood, structures will be invented,
which will cancel the effect of undesired magnetic forces, and limit the
influence on the space craft to the star or planet emitting the magnetic
forces which the craft wishes to follow; and fantastic speeds will be
attained. That's my theory of how it will happen, anyhow. In any case,
we will not advance scientifically until we understand what light is (we
still accept the dichotomy that "sometimes it acts like a wave and
sometimes like a particle" -- not recognizing that implicitly this means
we don't know what it IS), and what gravity is, and what medium they flow
through. When we do, we will be able to manipulate these forces.

If we take the view that whenever the Revelation or the authorized
Interpretations are at variance with settled scientific views, then the
Revelation is "superstition" and must defer to science, then we are saying
that we cannot, through the eyes of the Revelator, see beyond today's
science. We cannot be progressive, nor can the Prophet lead science to
higher levels.

While I'm on the topic of the relation between science and revelation,
Juan and others have made compelling statements about how the domain of
the Revelation is the spirit of man, not the realm of science, and we
should simply not permit the Faith to revisit the conflicts of past
Dispensations. But this begs the question: Who decides what is science?

I recall meeting Emeric and Rosemary Sala at Bosch. Emeric smiled -- they
were a dear couple -- and said, "I would like to tell you the secret of 50
years of happy marriage. We decided early on that I would make all the
big decisions, and she would make all the small decisions.... Fifty years
of marriage -- and no big decisions!"

So, who gets to make the big decisions? Who decides what is the realm of
science? Is psychology off limits to the Revelation? Medicine? I feel
that Baha'u'llah's Revelation has many teachings that directly impact on
these sciences. So what I'm saying is, how can we say that He is limiting
what I might term the dominance of His teachings over human endeavors, to
non-scientific matters?

But I have another problem with even describing science and revelation as
separate domains. The Master says on page 368 or 369 of BWF that the
person who cuts away all things and turns with his whole heart to the Holy
Spirit -- that Spirit will make him "competent in science." To me this
implies that the scientist, no less than the mystic, is inspired by the
Holy Spirit. The atheist psychologist who clearly and soundly advises his
or her client is animated by the Holy Spirit. Truth comes from the Holy
Spirit; even if the speaker, following the true statements just made, then
denies the existence of such a Spirit. We are all alloys of slumberer and
awakener. I am not sure that we can separate the domains of science and
religion. We may be better off looking for their commonality.

Sometimes I wonder why I'm a lawyer.


To: Bijan*Masumian,<>
From: Juan R Cole <>
Subject: Re: Science and Religion
Date: Monday, May 15, 1995 0:17:10 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


I don't think the problem is that evolutionary theory or current
cosmology have anomalies as paradigms. The question is, how would you
resolve those anomalies? By consulting a book of Scripture? Or by
observation, hypothesis, causal analysis?

The history of theology during the past 150s years in the West (the
culture most directly affected by science and technology) has shown the
dangers of confusing the domains of science and religion. Indeed,
historians have sarcastically referred to the "God of the gaps" tradition
in theology, wherein religious thinkers attempted to locate the divine in
whatever part of the current scientific paradigm seemed least explained.
But as the paradigm advanced, of course, poor God was forced to immigrate
to some other niche in a new paradigm, at least for a while.

Let's give it up. Religion tells us about being human in the world; it
tells us how the world is meaningful. It may therefore be wrought up
epistemologically with the cultural preconditions for science. But
religion and science are separate domains.

The Baha'i tradition that attempts to legitimate ancient philosophy and
science as having been influenced by Prophecy has its roots in
Alexandrian Judaism and can be encountered in Augustine. It is certainly
false with regard to details; Pythagoras did not study with Solomon, nor
is there any historical evidence whatsoever that there was any
interaction at all between the Greek and Hebrew cultures in the 400s or
300s B.C. As a historian who can only make assertions on the basis of
documentation contemporary with the events documented, I would have to
rule such an idea out of court. And what exactly would the Prophets have
communicated to the philosophers? The value of pi? This tradition must be
seen simply as an apologetic device adopted by those in the Jewish,
Christian and Islamic traditions who wished to legitimate the study of
Greek philosophy.

On the other hand it has been argued that a move away from polytheism was
necessary to the emergence of science. Perhaps this apologetic tradition
can be seen as a symbolic statement of this truth.

As for the science in the Qur'an, I wouldn't rush to embrace it.
One could not take the vague reference
to heliocentrism very far. The Qur'an's universe is one where the
earth's crust is rather like a blanket about to blow away, which needs
mountains to pin it down; meteor showers are jinn; and all sorts of
statements are made about physical reality that simply reflect the ideas
about the world prevalent in 7th century Arabia.

Scriptures don't tell us about science. Science tells us about science.
But scriptures do tell us about the ethics of science, the right uses of
science, the abuses of science. The two domains are like large circles
that overlap only at one narrow point, that of human values. The trick
is to keep them together there, but apart everywhere else.

cheers Juan Cole, History, Univ. of Michigan

Dearest Professor Vijay Kutrapa ; Salam
First of all, I am sorry for not being able to make connection with you in
Toronto. I was there only on Friday, and then I had to go some other place.
Nevertheless, I have some Baha'i friends in Toronto who can assist you in
any way they can. One of this friends is an Indian friend who has become
Baha'i recently and is very Knowledgeable. His name is Dr. Gopal Menon with
the phone number (905) 648-1048. Another friend of mine who teaches
in Migel university , Dr. Todd Lawson who teaches Islamic studies is also
available .
Are you going to be using Hughes Network account while in England ?
Please give me your forwarding e-mails if there is any.
I may be in Europe by the end of summer, I will love to visit you in
England if such possibilities exists. We may be able to get together
with Dr. Moojan Momen, whom I have already given you his E-mail.

Now, concerning your question about the Seal of the Prophets which Is used
to refer to His holiness Muhammad upon Him be peace and the fact that He
is the Seal of Messengers as well in connection with the claim of His
holiness Baha'u'llah as a new manifestation.

Many of my dear friends in this group have already provided you with many
insight on this matter , and so I just confined myself to explanation
as you have kindly asked me to do so. To demonstrate the meaning of the
phrase Seal in the Baha'u'llah 's writings I shall build it in three

I. The acceptance of the fact that His holiness Muhammad is the Seal of
both Messengers and prophets.

First of all yes I agree with you that there are many-many traditions in
Islam in which reefers to His holiness Muhammad as the seal of messengers
and prophets.
His holiness Baha'u'llah , Himself reefers to Muhammad, as the one who is
the Seal of both Messengers and prophets. To begin our dialog , Let me
share with you two of His passages that reflects this fact and demands
some reflection.

( *****Since Majority of the passages that I am referring to are in the
Original Persian/ Arabic , as a result I am giving you the ESSENCE of what is
there, but give you the EXACT source
in which you can locate them. I will be more than happy to send you the
ORIGINALS to any address that you give me. *)
A. Baha'u'llah in a Tablet reefers to Muhammad as the one who through
Him BOTH the Messengership and Prophethood ENDED.
Baha'u'llah uses the Arabic word " KHATAMA" meaning " ENDED" .
(* ISHRAQAT Page 293 line 3 *)
B. Baha'u'llah reefers to Muhammad as " The Primal Point",
" The Dawning Place of all names", " The Prefect Word "....
(* La-a' li-u'l- Hekmat vol 3 page 83 section number 46 *)

Please Meditate on the second one until I get to it later.

2. The reality of Progressive revelation or the continuity of the
manifestations of God.
That means that due to man's continuos demand for growth, and the fact that
requirements of living changes from age to age, then we need to accept the
continuity of
religion as well.
As my dear friend Mr. Hakim's posting shows the Holy Quran also testifies to
this fact.
The Holy Quran has over 6000 verses, from which over 3500 are about the fact of
continuity of revelation. Some of these passages are EXPLICIT or DIRECT and many
others are IMPLICIT or IN-DIRECT.
Let me to share a few passages to you :
In Surih BANII -' ISRAAA-'IIL (* Surih # 17 ) verse 77 The PROGRESSIVE
has been firmly established by saying " It is our METHOD to send to Mankind of
and thou will not find change in our method."

After establishing the fact of " Progressive Revelation" in this verse, He
states the following universal passage as well to assist us to understand it in
TIME-SPACE domain also.
In Surih Yuunus (# 10) verse 49 He says " And for every Ummat (* Meaning Nation
or Group *) there is AN APPOINTED TIME, when THEIR TIME COMETH, then they CAN
NOT PUT IT OFF an Hour..."

His Holiness Muhammad , in order , for His followers not to get the CANCER
which afflicted the followers of revelations before Him (* The CANCER being :
To believe that the one religion is the LAST religion *) revealed some EXPLICIT
passages concerning
His own religion and His own followers. The famous one which Baha'u'llah also
points it
out is the verse 143 of
the second Surih BAQARAH in which He ( * Muhammad *) reefers to MOSLEMS to
NOT the FIRST group nor the LAST group in the history of religions. The EXACT
is " We have APPOINTED YOU a MIDDLE nation ".
Baha'u'llah , in two of His famous tablets, one being JAVAHER-UL- ASRAR which
can be found in the 3rd volume of Tablets of Baha'u'llah named Qalam-i- A'la
page 1
as well as Lawhi- Sabr or Tablet of Patience.

He even FIXED DATE for His own Revelation being 1000 years. The most famous
passages concerning these appears in the following verses of the Holy Quran.
In Surih Saba (# 34) verse 29 He says " And they say: When is this promise if ye
are truthful?"
and in the next verse 30 He says " Say yours is the promise of A DAY which ye

And concerning the LENGTH of a DAY , He says in Surih HAJJ (#22) verse 47.

So as you can see from these few passages, His holiness Muhammad, was an
of Progressive Revelation.

Considering the passages in the second part , there SHOULD BE a MEANING to the
of " Seal of the Prophets " or even according to even Baha'u'llah " Seal of the
Messengers" which is used for His holiness Muhammad. Certainly It can not mean
LAST in TIME-PLACE domain or realm. Please note I say TIME-PLACE domain. What
is the Meaning then ?

We need to understand this because this title " Seal of the prophets " has
according to
Baha'u'llah in His second major work, Kitab-i-Iqan has veiled the eyes of
to such a degree that they rejected the new revelations. Here is some of the
exact words of Baha'u'llah :
"people of the Qur'an ... have allowed the words `Seal of the Prophets' to
veil their eyes", "to obscure their understanding, and deprive them of the
grace of all His manifold bounties". He affirms that "this theme hath ... been
a sore test unto all mankind" ,and laments the fate of "those who, clinging
unto these words, have disbelieved in Him
Who is their true Revealer". The Bab refers to this same theme when He
warns: "Let not names shut you out as by a veil from Him Who is
their Lord, even the name Prophet, for such a name is but a creation
of His utterance." (Aqdas: Notes, pages 243-244)
He again , in the Kitab-i- Aqdas says :
Take heed lest the word "Prophet" withhold you from this Most Great
Announcement, or
any reference to "Vicegerency" debar you from the sovereignty of Him Who is the
Vicegerent of God, which overshadoweth all the worlds. (The Kitab-i-Aqdas, page

According to the Baha'i Writings of which I shall give you some example, The
Seal of the Prophets or END of the prophets, is intended to convey the
following two things:
1) In relation to the Time and Place
According To His holiness Baha'u'llah This statement of Muhammad was one way to
declare to them the greatness of the manifestation which is going to follow Him.
Manifestation which is NOT a Nabi (* Prophet - or even a messenger *) He is
higher than these names. He is the Promise of All ages, and this is as
calls it the Most Great Announcement.
Please Note, this is not mean that Baha'u'llah is BETTER than Muhammad, rather
it wants to show that the INTENSITY of this revelation DUE to the NEEDS of the
AGE in which it has appeared is greater. The Matchless feature of this AGE has
caused Muhammad to refer to it as the " Day of God " in the holy Quran, A day in
which the terms such as Prophets and Messengers are simply a creation belonging
to the Kingdom of NAMES.

In this regard Baha'u'llah has said :
In truth I say: On this day the blessed words "But He is the Apostle of God,
and the Seal
of the Prophets" have found their consummation in the verse "The day when
shall stand before the Lord of the worlds." (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,
page 114)

Even in the holy traditions we can see some passages from Muhammad that
the greatness of whatever relates to the future revelations: For example we see
Abdu'l-'Aziz, son of Abdu'-Salam, hath related unto us that the Prophet - may
the blessings of God and His salutations be upon him - hath said: "Akka is a
city in Syria to which God hath shown His special mercy." and Again we read
that Ibn-i-Mas'ud - may God be pleased with him - hath stated: "The Prophet -
may the blessings of God and His salutations be upon Him - hath said: `Of all
shores the best is the shore of Askelon,
and Akka is, verily, better than Askelon,
and the merit of Akka above that of Askelon and all other shores is as the merit

of Muhammad above that of all other Prophets. I bring you tidings of a city
betwixt two mountains in Syria, in the middle of a meadow, which is called
Akka. Verily, he that entereth therein, longing for it and eager to visit it,
God will
forgive his sins, both of the past and of the future. And he that departeth
from it, other than as a pilgrim, God will not bless his departure ..."
Anas, son of Malik - may God be pleased with him - hath said:
"Blessed the man that hath visited Akka, and blessed he that hath visited the
visitor of Akka ". (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pages 178-181)

2) Reality of the term " LAST " in the realm of CONTINUOS REALITY:
As you know the reality of all the prophets are the same. They all are from
one God, and they all speak of the same reality. There is only ONE God,
so it's REALITY also needs to be one. We can not know God in His NATURE.
Why ? Because knowing His nature requires to either be resemble to Him or to
be above Him, both of which is not possible.
So the ONLY WAY to know GOD is through His MANIFESTATIONS that
are the prophets , Messengers or whatever name we may call them. (* Needless
to point out the fact that THEY ARE ABOVE THE REALM of NAMES *).
They as His holiness the Bab in Persian Bayan and Baha'u'llah in IQAN states
are like the MIRRORS which are in front of the SUN. They all reflect
the rays of the SAME SUN according to the requirement of the AGE in which they
Since their REALITY is ONE, should we according to Bab in His book called "
Seven Proofs" call them " FIRST " is true because it is only ONE, the same is
true if we call them " LAST".
As you notice, First and Last is ONE, since it DOES NOT relate to TIME and PLACE
rather it relates to the REALITY of the MANIFESTATIONS of God..
That being the case, If we call them all with ONE Name, is acceptable,
since they are all ONE. Each ONE is the Spiritual RETURN of the Pervious
ONES. If we know the LATEST ONE , we have believed in ALL , and if we DENY
ANY of them , we have DENIED them ALL.
To show you some examples , I invite you to consider the following passages in
the Bible:

In John chapter 5 we read: " For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed
Please NOTE that in this passage JESUS identifies His REALITY with MOSES.

Now Please consider the following passage from the Bible:
" Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last:" (The Revelation of St.
John, Chapter 1)

How can Jesus be FIRST and The LAST in the TIME-SPACE domain? Beside if this is
the TRUE , HOW can WE believe in MUHAMMAD, THE BAB or BAHA'U'LLAH ?
Our Christian friends, by looking at this statement has concluded the same thing
abut Christ that Our Moslem friends have done with the understanding of " Seal
of the prophets or Messengers ".
So as we can all easily testify , THESE all refers to the REALITY of these holy
that are called manifestations of God. This is the Same thing that JESUS called
WORD in John chapter 1 verse 1 saying:
" In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was
This is exactly why we can call all of them FIRST, LAST, SEAL, PRIMAL POINT
PERFECT WORD since they all refer to the REALITY that they manifest.
His holiness Baha'u'llah explains this MATCHLESS feature in the following
words of His:

"And were they all to proclaim: "I am the Seal of the Prophets," they verily
utter but the
truth, beyond the faintest shadow of doubt. For they are all but one person,
one soul, one spirit, one being, one revelation. They are all the manifestation
of the "Beginning"
and the "End," the "First" and the "Last," the "Seen" and "Hidden"
- all of which pertain to Him Who is the innermost Spirit of Spirits and
Essence of Essences. And were they to say: "We are the servants of God," this
also is a manifest and indisputable fact. For they have been made manifest in
uttermost state of servitude, a servitude the like of which no man can possibly
(The Kitab-i-Iqan, page 179)
And Concerning the variation in the INTENSITY of their Message He states :

"These attributes of God are not, and have never been, vouchsafed specially unto

certain Prophets, and withheld from others. Nay, all the Prophets of God,
His well-favored, His holy and chosen Messengers are, without exception, the
of His names, and the embodiments of His attributes. They only differ
in the intensity of their revelation, and the comparative potency of their
Even as He hath revealed: "Some of the Apostles We have caused to excel the
(Gleanings from the writings of Baha'u'llah, page 48

So , we should not CONSIDER ONE BETTER than OTHER if we are a true believer.
There is NO difference among any of them in REALITY but the INTENSITY of
their REVELATION varies.
Baha'u'llah in answer to a questioner who have asked the SAME EXACT QUESTION
YOU ASKED , states the following in " Gleanings from the writings of

" In thine esteemed letter thou hadst inquired which of the Prophets of God
should be regarded as superior to others. Know thou assuredly that the essence
of all the Prophets of God is one and the same. Their unity is absolute. God,
the Creator, saith: There is no distinction whatsoever among the Bearers of My
Message. They all have but one purpose; their secret is the same secret.
To prefer one in honor to another, to exalt certain ones above the rest, is in
no wise to be permitted. Every true Prophet hath regarded His Message as
fundamentally the same as the Revelation of every other Prophet gone before
Him. If any man, therefore, should fail to comprehend this truth, and should
consequently indulge in vain and unseemly language, no one whose sight is keen
and whose understanding is enlightened would ever allow such idle talk to
cause him to waver in his belief.
The measure of the revelation of the Prophets of God in this world, however,
must differ.
Each and every one of them hath been the Bearer of a distinct Message, and hath
commissioned to reveal Himself through specific acts. It is for this reason
they appear to vary in their greatness. Their Revelation may be likened unto
the light
of the moon that sheddeth its radiance upon the earth. Though every time it
it revealeth a fresh measure of its brightness, yet its inherent splendor can
diminish, nor can its light suffer extinction. It is clear and evident,
therefore, that any apparent variation in the intensity of their light is not
inherent in the light itself, but should rather be attributed to the varying
receptivity of an ever-changing world. Every Prophet Whom the Almighty and
Peerless Creator hath purposed to send to the peoples of the
earth hath been entrusted with a Message, and charged to act in a manner that
would best meet the requirements of the age in which He appeared. God's purpose
in sending His Prophets unto men is twofold.
The first is to liberate the children of men from the darkness of ignorance, and
guide them to the light of true understanding. The second is to ensure the
peace and tranquillity of mankind, and provide all the means by which they can
be established. The Prophets of God should be regarded as physicians whose task
is to foster the well-being of the world and its peoples, that, through the
spirit of oneness, they may heal the sickness of a divided humanity. To none is
given the right to question their words or disparage their conduct, for they
arethe only ones who can claim to have understood the patient and to have
correctly diagnosed its ailments.No man, however acute his perception, can ever
hope to reach the heights which the wisdom and understanding of the Divine
Physician have attained. Little wonder, then, if the treatment
prescribed by the physician in this day should not be found to be identical
with that
which he prescribed before. How could it be otherwise when the ills affecting
sufferer necessitate at every stage of his sickness a special remedy?
In like manner, every time the Prophets of God have illumined the world with
resplendent radiance of the Day Star of Divine knowledge, they have invariably
summoned its peoples to embrace the light of God through such means as best
befitted the exigencies of the age in which they appeared. They were thus able
to scatter the darkness of ignorance, and to shed upon the world the glory of
their own knowledge. It is towards the inmost essence of these Prophets,
therefore, that the eye of every man of discernment must be directed,
inasmuch as their one and only purpose hath always been to guide the erring,
and give peace to the afflicted.... These are not days of prosperity and
triumph. The whole of mankind is in the grip of manifold ills.
Strive, therefore, to save its life through the wholesome medicine which the
almighty hand of the unerring Physician hath prepared.

Well, My dear friend, I hope I have been of assistance to you on your questions
about " Seal". I will do my best to answer your other question tomorrow .
meanwhile, I beg you not to allow anything to hinder your efforts in knowing the
reality of the cause of Baha'u'llah.
Direct your eyes on the greatness of God and forgive the faults of a weak souls
such as
myself. Please remember me also in your loving prayers. I wish you the best,
hope to hear from you. I really felt sad for seeing you sufering . Please rest
asured that
God will guide all of those who walk in His paths. If we have made any error ,
forgive us, and with your loving heart pray for us.

With my deepest love, Habib Riazati

In response to Stephen Johnson's posting, in early Islam there
were a diversity of interpretations of the Seal verse. The best study
of these is by Yohanan Friedmann, "Finality of Prophethood in Islam,"
Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, Vol. 7 (1986): 177-215. IMO,
any discussion of interpretation of the Seal verse on historical
grounds must begin with the material and analysis this study provides.

As Adolph Harnack once said, history is the best judge of the
claims of dogma. However, no historical argument on the development of
dogma is sufficient to overturn it. The finality of Muhammad's
prophethood, moreover, is upheld by the Baha'i writings. The
inauguration of a new "prophetic" cycle is, in a sense, non-prophetic.
That is one reson why the technical term, "Manifestation of God",
functions most in accord with Baha'i salvation history. The Bab and
Baha'u'llah, according to Baha'i soteriology, exhaust the received
understandings of "Prophet" and "Messenger".

Contrary to the popular Baha'i argument that Muhammad was the
"Seal of the Prophets" but not the "Seal of the Messengers",
Baha'u'llah, in a prayer for forgiveness, affirms that Muhammad was both.

That having been said, the Baha'i writings exhibit a pattern
of taking a received interpretation and then expanding on it, rather
than refuting it. So, in the Kitab-i Iqan, for example, Baha'u'llah
draws attention to a verse just four verses after the Seal verse,
inviting the reader to meditate on Q. 33:44 rather than Q. 33:40. It
is a brilliant piece of exegesis, which probably originates with the
Bab (but I'd have to check on this first).

Not having Seena Fazel's and Khazeh Fananapazir's Journal of
Baha'i Studies article handy, I don't know how much of what I am
saying reduplicates or adds to what they have written. I am quite
anxious to read Stephen Lambden's study on the Bab's "Treatise on the
Special Prophethood of Muhammad". With all due respect, I do not fully
accept Mirza Abu'l-Fadl's argument that prophets in the past received
their inspiration through dreams and visions, but that in this
Dispensation the Bab and Baha'u'llah received direct inspiration. I
have seen Christian arguments claiming the same for Christ.

For those who have read my controversial review of Michael
Sours' *The Prophecies of Jesus* and the subsequent rejoinder and
response in the latest issue of Journal of Baha'i Studies, you will
see a subtext in which I hint at the existence of "private discourse"
versus "public discourse" in the Baha'i writings. I will not delve
into this problem now, but I simply wish to point out that, while a
historical treatment of the Seal verse is important for "scientific"
understanding of the history of interpretation, it is really the
received interpretation that has force and which which we are obliged
to dialogue.

For this reason, I side with the pluralists among us who
distinguish between separate agendas integral to the so-called *Lesser
Peace* (= the *Great Peace*, unless Ahang [?] can prove that the the
latter is a consequence of the former) and the *Most Great Peace*. The
first agenda requires pluralism and the *political realism* of the
world in which we now live, Baha'i triumphalism notwithstanding. That
is why, in the latest JBS, I have pointed to Shoghi Effendi's
statement in WOB as foundational to a Baha'i theology of pluralism.

The problem is therefore how to affirm that Muhammad, upon
whom be peace, is the Seal of the Prophets, and then develop a
discourse that grounds pluralism in both Baha'i and Islamic
worldviews. But in the Islamic context, it is important to know with
which worldview one is dialoguing. I have identified seven: (1)
Radical Islamicist; (2) Traditionalist; (3) Neo-Traditionalist; (4)
Modernist; (5) Secularist; (6) Post-Modernist; (7) Post-Islamist.

To conclude, I am saying that Friedmann provides the best
historical study of early interpretations of the Seal verse, that
Baha'i texts uphold the received interpretation of it, shifting the
focus to Q. 33:44 as the crucial verse, and that the demands of
interfaith dialogue must make us sensitive to the various contexts of
Baha'i arguments, such that *private discourse* (i.e., criticisms of
dogma, 'ulama', etc.), be subordinated to the more important *public
discourse* also found in Baha'i sources.

Christopher Buck

* * * * * *
* * * Christopher Buck Invenire ducere est.
* * * Carleton University * * *
* * * Internet: CBuck@CCS.Carleton.CA * * *
* * * P O Box 77077 * Ottawa, Ontario * K1S 5N2 Canada * * *
* * * * * *

Cc: sami@toolik.Stanford.EDU
From: (Indermohan Narula)
Date: Friday, May 5, 1995 18:55:32 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


Dear Sami,

Re: Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster and Guru Nanak and Sikhs.

I will attempt to respond to your 2nd question. You wrote

>2. Is there any genealogical relationship between Krishna and Buddha as
>there is among the Semitic Prophets? What about Zoroaster?

From what I can recall from a book written by P N Mishra titles "Kalki
Avatar ki Khoj" written in Hindi he present scriptural evidence that
Krishna and Buddha both descended from the Suryavanshi family which
descended from Kashyap Rishi after who the Caspian Sea is named. He goes
on to link the genealogies of Krishna and Zoroaster and then even the
Semitic prophets. This I have read a long time ago and I will need to
look it up to get you the actual scriptural references. The book was
published by the BPT of India and should still be available. Another
source is "Buddha Maitreya Amitabha" by Jamshed Fozdar again published
by BPT India where there is a reference to the genealogy of the prophets
you have mentioned.

Regarding question 3 you wrote

>3. What is the Baha'i view of the station of Guru Nanak, founder of the
>Sikh Faith? Some of my Sikh friends say that he should be a considered
>prophet since he did bring a Holy Book (Adi Granth) and created new
laws >for His followers. However, His station as Prophet would nullify
>Muhammad's station as "Seal of the Prophets', wouldn't it? Perhaps He
>could be considered a lesser Prophet like the Jewish ones, bringing the
two >great religious traditions of Hinduism and Islam into one fold.
Conjecture >aside though, I'd love to know the official Baha'i position
if one exists. >If not, i'd love to hear your opinions.

I come from a Sikh background and you are right that the primary purpose
was to end the conflict between the Hindus and Muslims. The Adi Granth
is a collection of scripture from Hindu and Muslim saints (Kabir is an
example of a Muslim saint) and was started by Guru Nanak and
supplemented by each of the Gurus with Guru Gobind Singh, an
accomplished scholar of Gurmukhi, Sanskrit and Arabic, completing the
Granth and ending the succession of Gurus and asking the Sikhs to refer
to the Adi Granth. He also instated the council of the Five Beloved
(Panj Pyaras) as the guiding and coordinating body for the Sikhs or
Khalsa (derived from the word Khalis "essence"). All the Gurus belong to
the class of prophets with 11 attributes (Gyara Kala Sampuran) which in
biblical terms are equivalent to the minor prophets versus the
messengers who have 16 attributes (Solanh Kala Sampuran). We average
human have 9 attributes which includes the 5 senses to which is added
thought, imagination, intuition and faith. This is from a long time ago.
I do not have access to my books which are in India and I have been out
of India for about 18 years working and pioneering. I am currently in
Japan having arrived here about a month ago. Guru Nanak or any of the
other Gurus do not occupy the station of 'Rasool' but are in the station
of 'Nabi'.

The only direct reference there is to the Sikhs in the Baha'i Writings
in English that I have come across is by Abdu'l Baha in Selections from
the Writings of Abdu'l Baha where he refers to a group of people in
India where one man has the strength of ten men and the source of this
strength is their purity of heart. I am paraphrasing as I do not have
the book and therefore the reference.

I hope this helps for the time being. May be you could contact National
Spiritual Assembly of India for access to the books I have mentioned.
Their email address is

With loving Baha'i greetings

4-17 Asa Matsugaoka, Tatsunokuchi, Ishikawa-ken 923-12 Japan

Subject: Re: proofs, socrates
Date: Tuesday, May 23, 1995 7:30:43 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


Perhaps Robert would consider reading A.E. Taylor's ELEMENTS OF METAPHYSICS.
Taylor was a leading Platonic scholar of his day (or any day IMO.) There is
an excellent analysis of Cause and Effect and its proper use and misuse by
modern science.

Jim Harrison

Subject: Re: Suicide and the Baha'i Writings
Date: Wednesday, May 31, 1995 15:42:04 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


There is the incident mentioned in one of the histories, I believe it was God
Passes By, but I trust someone will know the reference,(lately I have had
little luck putting my finger on such things) anyway, an incident in which a
man begged Baha'u'llah to describe the afterlife, and Baha'u'llah told him
about it with such vividness that the man could not endure life on earth and
killed himself immediately. Also, it is reported that Nabil, author of the
Dawnbreakers Narrative, threw himself into the sea after the passing of
Baha'u'llah. Also, according to Nabil, when Tahireh appeared unveiled at the
conference of Badasht, someone expressed his horror by slitting his own
throat(to what effect is not recorded.)
Clearly, suicide is forbidden, and as such, cannot be encouraged or
normalized by Baha'is, but we are able to understand that the impulse
emerges powerfully in moments of extreme grief or terror or mental imbalance
and to view the victims of self-murder with compassion. Baha'is who commit
suicide have not been disgraced in our histories.

welcome back, Nima!
david taylor

Subject: Re: revelation finite?
Date: Saturday, May 27, 1995 1:28:40 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


Sen : Wowsers you have done it again. What a clear piece ! It made so
much sense of my struggles to put into words the difference between the
Revelation of Baha;u;llah and the written revelation as I have called it .
Thanks for your clear exposition of this . I am thrilled by it .
love , Terry

Cc:,(Christopher Buck)
From: (Christopher Buck)
Subject: Transliteration for Windows
Date: Sunday, May 7, 1995 20:55:37 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


Several academics (and one NSA!) have prevailed upon me to
develop a transliteration font for Windows. The font I developed for
Macintosh, New World Transliterator, was reviewed by Kevin Reinhart
for the Middle East Studies Association Bulletin 27 (1993): 294.

Being a Macintosh user, I am generally ignorant of things on
the IBM-compatible side of the universe, but the font I developed
works in Windows beautifully. This is what I now have available:

(1) New World for Windows (TrueType)
(Roman, Italic, Bold)

(2) New World Times (TrueType)
(Roman, Italic)

The first font is based on New Century Schoolbook, the first
modern typeface scientifically developed for optimal character recognition.

Although New World Transliterator for Macintosh included every
conceivable transliteration character for romanizing Middle East
languages (supporting Baha'i, IJMES, Encyclopedia Iranica conventions
and several others), things are much more constrained on the Windows platform.

Although this is getting commercial, I thought I'd offer New
World for Windows for to Talismanians practically a shareware fee: $25.00
U.S. (send to the address below). This would allow me upgrade my digital
typography software and get user feedback as well.

If you wish to receive New World for Windows, please specify which
transliteration characters you require the most immediate access to,
and I will map these directly to your keyboard. (I have had to remap
certain non-essential characters from the keyboard in order to provide
instant access to user-specified transliteration characters.) Other
transliteration characters can be invoked by ANSI codes.

Christopher Buck

* * * * * *
* * * Christopher Buck Invenire ducere est.
* * * Carleton University * * *
* * * Internet: CBuck@CCS.Carleton.CA * * *
* * * P O Box 77077 * Ottawa, Ontario * K1S 5N2 Canada * * *
* * * * * *

To: Barmak,Kusha,<>
From: Juan R Cole <>
Subject: Re: Faith Stat.s in Turkey?
Date: Sunday, May 7, 1995 5:45:15 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


Dear Barmak: Sorry, I do not know concrete numbers for the contemporary
Turkish Baha'i Community; I'm forwarding your inquiry to Talisman, where
someone may be more informed.

The history of the Faith in Turkey is very important but has not been
written to my knowledge. I have found contacts between Baha'u'llah &
`Abdu'l-Baha and Turkish movements such as the Young Ottomans and the
Young Turks. One of the five founding members of the Young Turks,
Abdullah Cevdet Bey, became a Baha'i. He ran the important reformist
journal Ijtihad (Ictihat) in the teens, and in the early 1920s was tried
for heresy. It has been suggested to me that the public revulsion
against this treatment of a great patriot by the ulama contributed to the
secularization moves of Kemal Attaturk. The rise of Kemalism, though,
also hurt the Faith. Old Baha'i World volumes make it clear that the
militant secularism of the late '20s and early '30s led to a banning of
Baha'i meetings ("sectarianism" was forbidden, and the Faith was so
categorized, along with Sufi orders). There was another heresy trial in
the late '50s, I think. But it is my impression that such restrictions
were largely lifted in the '60s and '70s, and that the Turkish community
grew and became more organized. A few families of Alawis from Antakya
embraced the Faith in the early '70s, and in 1976 I participated in a
group sent by the Lebanon NSA to help deepen them. When I visited Turkey
in 1976 (Ankara, Istanbul, Edirne), my vague recollection is that I was
told that there were some 30 LSAs in that country then. As of 1979,
Turkey was an important route for the escape of Baha'is from persecution,
and someone told me that literally thousands have settled there.
Presumably there are therefore *many* more LSAs now! I suspect most of
the Iranian Baha'is who stayed in Turkey would have been Azeri speakers
and so they could have adapted quickly to modern Turkish. There was a
big conference in Izmir, I think, in early September '94. I also heard
that there has recently been favorable press coverage of the Faith in
leftist and secularist newspapers, insofar as they see it as a liberal
Eastern alternative to the rising tide of Muslim revivalism (the Welfare Party,
Nurcus, Naqshbandis, and others). I suspect that these are exciting
times for the Baha'is in Turkey, though ones fraught with some danger if
the Islamists ever take power.

Turkish scholars have told me they have found occasional documents
regarding the Faith in Ottoman times in the Istanbul archives, and my own
suspicion is that these holdings are 1) much richer than most scholars
realize, if only they can be located and 2) would if found and analyzed
significantly affect our understanding of the early history of the Faith.

cheers, Juan Cole, History, Univ. of Michigan

On Sat, 6 May 1995, Barmak Kusha wrote:

> Dear Friends,
> Could someone please give me statistics of the Faith in Turkey today? It
> would be very helpful if I knew how many LSA's, how many localities, how
> many Baha'is, and how many national electoral districts there are. I would
> like to know also, where, if at all, there may be towns or villages with
> significant percentages of Baha'is. Has anyone done research on the history
> of community life in Turkey?
> Also does anybody know if the NSA of Turkey is online?
> Thank you very much,
> Barmak Kusha
> cc: Juan R. Cole, U. Michigan-Ann Arbor
> Barmak Kusha (Univ. Wisc-Madison)
> 507 W Wilson ST #202
> Madison WI 53703 USA
> Ph-(608)251-3345
> Internet:
> ****************************************************************************
> "The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens"
> Bahaullah (1817-1892)
> Prophet-Founder of the Baha'i faith
> ****************************************************************************

Dear Talismanians,

I wanted to thank Farhad Sabetan for his gentle and thoughtful post
on the subject of the US National Baha'i convention. Normally, I
wouldn't reply to such a cogently-expressed view, preferring
instead to let readers judge between our variant vantage points for
themselves, but Mary Day and more than a few others have asked me
to respond in the interests of furthering our consultation on these

Like Farhad, I too have found myself wishing for some way to
accelerate the maturation process of our conventions. For that to
happen, I'm convinced, a realization must occur among delegates and
the NSA that convention consists of a business meeting designed to
focus on national issues; not another Baha'i conference structured
to make us all feel good about ourselves and our religion.
National Convention should, IMHO, consist of true, informed
consultation, and forego the pep rally. To that end, I offer three

1.> The Importance of Agenda Setting

One of the ways we could improve the convention might involve
a more consultative and interactive agenda-setting process. Since
it represents the skeletal structure of the meeting, the delegates
must openly consult on and ultimately control the agenda. Merely
stating, as the chairperson generally does at the beginning of the
convention, that the agenda "is now open for modification" hardly
gives anyone the chance to participate in really thinking about
what direction the next three-and-a-half days of consultation could
conceivably take. In that short few seconds when the chair
requests modification motions, most delegates barely have time to
get their folders open.

Of course, the NSA has instituted some good first steps toward an
interactive agenda-setting process fairly recently, like sending
out to each delegate, after the unit conventions, a sheet that
requests ideas for consultation topics. Then a completed agenda,
after the NSA presumably reads the delegate's replies and compiles
the consultation subjects, gets mailed to the delegates a few weeks
in advance of the convention. Unfortunately, this process doesn't
quite meet the Guardian's definition of how a national convention
should function -- as a distinct, separate Baha'i institution in
and of itself, with its own agenda-setting powers, entirely free to
discuss whatever it deems necessary.

Why not extend and deepen that pre-convention process by mail, by
phone or via Internet? Why not prepare a draft agenda in advance,
so everyone could participate thoughtfully? We could easily send
out a draft agenda to all delegates, or to an elected or appointed
subset of delegates, for consultation and final work-up. We could
do the same thing, in an even more consultative manner, with a
single national conference call or a time-specific Internet link-
up. I realize that many delegates have yet to go cyber, but almost
all have access to telephones.

What I'm really talking about here, and I want to talk about it
frankly, is control. If the National Assembly has the power to
control the agenda-setting process, with the exception of a few
seconds for motions to change details, the convention will and
invariably does take a pre-determined course. For example -- in my
view, a significant portion of the recent convention should have
devoted itself to frank and open discussion of the most important
document we've seen from Haifa in a long time, the May 19th letter.
Instead, the delegates had a total of approximately 2 hours out of
three and a half days to discuss their response to the letter, a
pitiful, single-digit percentage. I suspect that such a major
letter, if on teaching or some other relatively non-threatening
subject, would have received a much greater portion of consultation
time. Instead, because the letter criticizes our American
administrative practices, we cringe, we hide, we make it a "family"
issue and only talk about it in private, we ghettoize it on our
agenda, we treat it as somehow shameful and not suitable for
discussion in mixed company. That treatment strikes me as
unhealthy, because we ignore or slight the Universal House of
Justice at great peril. So the claim that the delegates
ultimately control the consultation seems somewhat naive -- when
your NSA prints and distributes an agenda, especially when
approximately a third of delegates each year are first-time
attendees, who questions? Precisely my point -- no one. (see #3
below for further amplification) When questioning the
administration plays as disloyalty, the administration rarely gets

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying that the NSA's control is
invariably deleterious or manipulative or even consciously spin-
doctoring -- I'm only saying that, to approach the Guardian's
standard of an electoral process that remains pure and uninfluenced
by any factor, including the current administration, we should
think about progressing toward that standard instead of locking
ourselves into a pre-determined form.

2.> Robert's Rules of Ordure

Which leads me to the whole subject of parlimentary procedure,
theatre seating, a podium and an elevated stage, and the process of
delegate speaker selection we now employ. For years at national
convention I've spent quite a bit of time with the Native American
believers, and they have gradually shared with me the enormous
problem many of them have with the stilted, formal, too-structured
way we conduct our meetings. Lecterns on a stage with everyone
facing forward inhibit the free exchange of ideas, they have
repeatedly said, and even worse stop the free flow of the spirit.
These dogmatic forms keep the native believers from participating,
and we lose a great deal when that happens.

So parlimentary procedure and a podium ultimately mimic an old form
we should have gotten rid of many moons ago -- the pulpit. When we
elevate a pulpit-type method of address to locked-in, accepted
procedure we lock out much of the consultative power we could
conceivably muster.

The delegates do not constitute an audience for a fore-ordained
program at national convention, instead, and ideally, they
constitute the program. This distinctly Western and distinctively
constipated method of psuedo-consultation stops the development of
coherent threads, hampers the exchange of views and alienates those
whose cultures (African-American, Persian, Native American,
Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, did I miss anyone?) have
developed more spontaneous, organic and human methods of talking to
each other. Why do we insist on using Robert's Rules of Ordure
when the Guardian specifically warned us against doing so? I sense
that we do it to maintain "control" and to perpetuate the imperial
stereotype of leadership inherent in our country's governance
structure. We ought to stop.

Instead, why not arrange chairs in concentric circles, use remote
mikes, de-emphasize the churchy "leaders and followers" paradigm
built into the pulpit-and-audience tradition, employ the Native
American device of a talking stone, whereupon a single stone passed
from one speaker to another grants its holder the sole right to
speak and everyone else the right to hear, and actually look at and
listen to each other. What a radical idea! This model would
result in more actual consultation, better interaction among
delegates, and might even have the desirable side effect of
reducing the speechifying, preaching and haranguing conventions
sometimes suffer through.

Others have made these suggestions before, but always the negative
reply has focused on the relatively small size of Foundation Hall
in the House of Worship and the desirability of having visitors at
the convention. Again -- the convention functions as a business
meeting, not a conference. And this year, when we had plenty of
room to circle the chairs and get down to some serious exchange of
views, we did not do so. In my view, the maturity of the delegates
and of the consultation itself rests on our ability to go beyond
the old forms and free our minds from the fetters of outmoded

3.> Fear and Psychological Martyrdom

Now, on to Farhad's final and most emphatic point -- fear.
"Why," he says, "were/are the delegates afraid to speak their
hearts and minds? What are they afraid of?" He cites the martyrs,
who "have historically shed their blood in the face of indignities,
insults, humiliations, scorns, reproaches and tortures."

I would submit that there exists a great difference between
physical martyrdom at the hands of those inimical to the Faith and
what the Guardian termed psychological martyrdom, where your
greatest tests, as the Master promises, come from your fellow
believers. Who among us would give our lives for the Faith? And
yet, who among us has the spiritual and psychological strength to
withstand an onslaught of criticism from other Baha'is and even
institutions and stay involved and active?

The psychological martyrdoms meted out to some of the believers who
dare to suggest different ways of doing things makes for a deep
psychological wounding that most Baha'is should -- and do --
legitimately fear.

"But, honestly," Farhad continues, "do we really think that the
Faith of Baha'u'llah has stooped to such low levels of corrupt
administration and bureaucracy that as soon as I express my
legitimate and rightful thoughts and feelings, I will be condemned,
repressed, and shut up?"

The short answer: No. The longer, nuanced answer: I know those
who feel that way, but I do not feel that way myself. The Faith of
Baha'u'llah protects itself against corruption with the Covenant.
However, the administration has no such protection, as the French
NSA found out in the '50s when it flirted with Mason Remey and the
Los Angeles LSA found out when it was disbanded in the '80s. I
long ago had to separate Baha'i administration, in its nascent and
embryonic forms and the inheritor, as the Guardian points out
clearly, of every evil and illness of the society from whence it
springs, from the Faith of Baha'u'llah. Let us not confuse the

However, yes, many of us resident here on Talisman have expressed
legitimate and rightful thoughts and feelings and been condemned,
repressed and shut up.

When expressing ideas at variance with the accepted norms leads to
censure, marginalization, shunning, administrative sanctions,
institutional backbiting, and accusations of weak loyalty or even
Covenant-breaking, you better believe it shuts up the believers.
A chill descends upon us, and we learn that we speak our minds at
high risk to our spiritual well-being. We have learned our lesson
all too well. I can count at least three dozen delegates who
expressed that fear to me and to a few others at this past
convention, lamenting their inability to say what their hearts
felt. Listen carefully even to the outspoken, courageous ones like
David Young, and hear the trembling in his voice when he speaks --
it ain't because the room's too cold. When fear rules our
expression, we grind our activities to a halt. If unity comes out
of honest, unfettered consultation, as `Abdu'l-Baha said; and if
the prerequisite to all our progress as a community is unity; then
we can easily see why the American Baha'i community, at least as
measured by enrollment and community growth, has stagnated and
failed to thrive for the past decade or more.

So the fear does exist. No one wants to be excluded from their own
chosen Faith, and an overbearing and excessively authoritarian
National Assembly (to use the May 19th terminology), no matter what
country it administers, unfailingly produces fear and then a slow
diminution of activity, until teaching and consolidation grind to
a halt. In other words, when you tell people "no" enough times,
pretty soon they start to do nothing.

The solution? The pendulum of openness, freedom of expression and
tolerance for a broad range of activities and approaches must swing
far to the other extreme. The outcome? Inevitably, some
individuals and communities will make mistakes, and others will
thrive. But that, as any good teacher will testify, means learning
takes place.

I hope this doesn't sound like a completely bleak assessment. I do
think we have made progress, that some openings have appeared, that
many good souls want to open up the process, that a few of the
delegates have damned the torpedoes and forged past their fears.
In that spirit, I applaud Farhad's call to courage and
forthrightness. We seem to, especially after the May 19th letter,
have found some small measure of hope that things can change. Long
may it flourish.



Subject: Re: Farhad on Fear and Conven...
Date: Friday, May 26, 1995 6:26:31 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


To David L:

Thank you for your post. It was excellent and to the point. I have been
suggesting these things for years - and have heard complaints every year by
delegates scattered all over the country that have expressed the same concern
- about the lack of real openness to serious discourse - even if it does
cause *discomfort*. I am not talking about those that would simply use a
forum to complain - but those that have serious concerns about the challenges
that are constantly and facing the American community and not being dealt

I have suffered the pressures of being labeled a *disunifier* and
troublemaker. My crime? Simply asking why we have as a community not arisen
to fulfill what the Guardian had asked of us in THE ADVENT OF DIVINE JUSTICE
and CITADEL OF FAITH. America has a two-fold spiritual mission - and almost
exclusively over the past twenty years I have heard only the first part of it
mentioned. (If you wish to know what the second part is - read COF p.153- 154
or look for the section entitled THE HOME FRONT - BASE . . .

I have tried every manner I know to introduce this subject to the friends- as
have a good number of others I know. My committment to it started when
Councellor Anello (sp) was at my house and was telling the youth (this was in
late 1986) that the victories destined for America would never come about
until the Baha'is - esp. the youth, "lived, ate and breathed the Guardian.".
Now I had considered myself reasonably well deepened - I had read ADVENT etc.
but after this I sat down and really studied what the Guardian said - what he
asked of us. What our mssion was, what we would need to accomplish to see the
vision become Reality, the *barometers* that would tell us if we were
succeeding, the pitfalls and illusions that faced us - and how to deal with
them . . .

And when I was finished I realized that despite the incredible examples of
individual efforts made by a good number of cherished souls - AS A COMMUNITY,
we had not yet arisen. It wasn't my opinion on this - the Guardian laid it
out clearly, with no room for interpretation in those two books, especially.
This is not to say that we haven't advanced - but we are far from
accomplishing the Guardian's vision. And lest anyone think that there is no
*time-line* for this mission, I would only ask that you _carefully_ read the

I won't go into the whole history of what I have had to put up with - and not
just me but others who have come to realize this thing. That isn't important.
But after nearly five years of trying to bring this to the consciousness of
the American Baha'i Community through every legitimate avenue possible I can
say that few people wish to hear it.
Even though it has been offered in the most positive light possible - esp.
after being repeatedly accussed of *being negative* wanting to *dwell* on our
failures, etc. the response has been almost always one of two: "everything is
going on just as it should" or "well, I can only do what I can do, and the
rest of this isn't my problem - and it's not yours either.".

I gave myself five years to commit to this message. After that, I promised
myself, if nothing came of it - it would be time to move on - literally -
look for other countries which don't have such a huge role to play and have
such massive obstacles to overcome. That is pretty much the point I am at
now. I do not want to truly become a voice of disunity by allowing the anger
and frustration to overide my heart and mind.

One last thing. Those who know me on Talisman (and there are some) would know
that this kind of disclosure is distasteful. I haven't spoken to anyone about
these issues in quite awhile. But I felt, after reading David's fine post,
that an *example* was needed - one that wasn't simply a *single-issue*
matter, but rather very large and central to our community's well-being.
Thank you for being patient and for understanding what I have so briefly
tried to explain.

Jim Harrison

Subject: Convention
Date: Friday, May 26, 1995 9:32:44 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


dear friends,
Allow me to say how much I enjoyed not only what David had to say but how
he sais it . If we could continue this dialogue on the level with the samr
conviction and love for the Cause of Baha'u'llah he gave evidence in his post
we might truly come up with some useful ideas about how to create the
environment our beloved Faith needs in North America to flourish.
A thought : i have sometimes thought based on personal reflection and
honest dialogue with others that one of our difficulties may be that as a
community we do not really want to grow . The smallness and relative safety
in obscurity are comforting. For the individual sort of the big fish in a
small pond syndrome. What would be my place in a Community of say 10 million
Baha'is? How would we *control* who gets to be a Baha'i ? remember those
study classes of the 50's that many Baha'i's I know still speak so lovingly
about . Kind of the marines and we want a few good men approach . What would
it mean to be a Baha'i if anybody could be one.? I do not say these things
to cast stones . These are all Statements I have heard well placed Baha'is
from national administrators to aux.board members make over the past 20
years. And as the saying goes it takes one to know one . I have asked myself
those same questions. I wonder if this isn't part of our Administrative
difficulties with what David sees as a control issue .
If I recall the majority of NSA members are part of the Southern California
legal culture or have ties to the 50's So .Cal culture. Is this an issue?
What might the cry be if suddenly a majority of NSA members were Persian
immigrants to the U.S. and those same members were still on the NSA 20 years
from now. Would we conclude that perhaps this was not representative of the
community? Would it lead to dominance of a particular view. The same could be
said of virtually any culturally defined group. Speaking of which why are
there not Persians on the NSA. ? Under the present pattern how are delegates
to learn of who to vote for in a critical mass ? If the convention were to be
seen as an institution in its own right might not the delegates actually
elect a number of their own to membership of the NSA? These are all quesions
members of our LSA have asked inour consultarion on this issue and the May
19th letter . It may be interesting ti note that the Omaha LSA has noone
serving on it currently who has been so for more than four years . That was
not always the pattern.
Could there not be special topic discusssion groups prior to the
Convention where delegates find out about one another and who and what is
happening around the National community? Sort of like at the ABS annual
meeting .
I hesitate to say it, but what about term limits ? for delegates and
NSA members . I suspect some delegates have been going to convention ----
read conference for as long as or longer than the average tenure of NSA
Just some thoughts . I am concerned that we are missing our potential as
a community and that one of Thomas Kuhns paradigm shifts may be in order.
warm regards,

Dear Talismanians,

Day Four -- US National Baha'i Convention -- April 30, 1995

[Final disclaimer -- Nothing below represents anyone's opinion,
views, reportorial decisions or emphases except this humble and
unworthy scribe's.]

Chicago--The 86th US National Baha'i Convention drew to a close
here today. Characterized by a spirit of loving fellowship among
the attendees, uplifted by gospel music, prayers and special
presentations, and yet marked by tensions over leadership questions
raised by the Universal House of Justice letter of May 19, 1994 to
the US NSA, the convention re-elected all nine incumbent National
Spiritual Assembly members.

The final half-day of consultation attempted to focus on the
subject of "Applying the Guardian's Directives to the issue of Race
Unity." The morning witnessed several new topics of discussion,
closing presentations by all three Continental Counsellors present,
and a rousing gospel finish. Among the topics raised for
consultation by the delegates:
-Much serious discussion ensued on a recommendation that the
NSA consider establishing a self-supporting non-profit corporation
to provide and offer diversity training to companies. The
recommendation carried.
-An African-American delegate made a strong suggestion that we
make it a policy to divorce all "race unity" activities from their
traditional connections to the African-American Baha'is. She noted
that race unity could more properly be cast as a predominantly
white concern, and said that racial harmony as the only teaching
approach to African-Americans inevitably insulted them, assuming as
it does that the sole significant concern of the African-American
community is racial in nature.
-One delegate suggested that the Baha'i community resume race
amity conferences, of the type that were held in the twenties, and
take back the leadership of the race unity issue in the US. Others
added that with the social focus in the country shifting to
concerns like affirmative action and California's Proposition 187,
the time was ripe for significant Baha'i leadership on the issue.
-Persians should be invited to share more in consultation, one
person strongly suggested, because their cultural barriers and
natural shyness made them refrain from doing so. The Baha'i
community needs, the speaker said, to encourage both Persians and
Native Americans to contribute more to our deliberations
-Along those same lines, one female delegate stated that the
largest percentage of speakers seemed to be male. While the
delegate spoke, Chair Dorothy Nelson counted the delegate
participants on the list, and announced that:
of 120 male delegates, 68 had spoken
of 51 female delegates, 33 had spoken.
Judge Nelson concluded that a greater percentage of the women
delegates had spoken, but that of course their total number was
certainly smaller.
-One delegate raised the issue of the review of songs, and
Robert C. Henderson replied that the Special Materials Review
Committee had recently been done away with, along with the
requirement of review for anything other than Baha'i literature.
He pointed out that the American Baha'i would carry an education
and deepening series on these issues.
-And finally, the last delegate to speak raised the issue of
intermarriage between Persian and African American Baha'is, saying
that the community needs an enormous campaign of education in this
area, as some parents were unwilling to give their sons and
daughters consent because of race. The delegate emphasized that
the family should not stand in the way of the youth, who had
obviously learned the principle of the oneness of humanity better
than their parents.

One significant subject occupied the focus of much of the off-the-
floor discussion among both delegates and visitors -- the seeming
alienation of some of the Persian community from the American
Baha'i mainstream. Saturday night's music presentation of both
gospel music and the Chicago Youth Workshop's rap music and hip-hop
dance routines disturbed some of the more traditional Baha'is,
according to many, who find it difficult associating a spirit of
reverence with such styles. Others suggested that deep cultural
divides between non-English speaking Persians and minority American
groups were widening as the American Baha'i community developed
more programs and presentations specifically influenced and even
driven by American popular culture.

Treasurer William Davis announced that the convention had raised
$127,747 in contributions and $17,000 in pledges for the National
Fund, and $39,325 in contributions and $37,000 in pledges for the
Arc Fund.

In her closing remarks, Chair Nelson indicated that the NSA wanted
as much input as possible from the delegates and the believers at
large, and reading the National Center's telephone number to the
crowd, urged everyone to call or write with suggestions for the
better functioning of the administration and the community. [Baha'i
National Center: 1-708-869-9039]

In his summary, Counsellor William Roberts emphasized women's
empowerment, saying that Baha'i men "have a lot to learn from
women." He then compared `Abdu'l-Baha's wedding, unique for its
sense of unity and spiritual harmony, to the relationship that
should obtain between the believers and the National Spiritual

Counsellor Stephen Birkland summed up by congratulating delegates
on the refinement of their consultation skills and the high level
of the issues the delegates raised. He said it heartened him to
hear the deep interest in these important matters of the Cause from
the floor, and encouraged the Baha'is to continue offering
constructive dialogue.

In her summation, Counsellor Wilma Ellis thanked the Institution of
the Learned, especially the Auxiliary Board, for their support of
the NSA during this difficult time. She suggested that it was
important that the Baha'is in the US community refrain from
complaining and backbiting to Universal House of Justice Member Ali
Nahkjavani during his upcoming visit, saying that we should not let
him take back all of our concerns to Haifa. Yes, there are
problems, she noted, but we need to unite and try to solve them.

I also want to thank David for his thorough postings on Convention.
Perhaps I can help a bit with the confusion and questions.

Until the Convention, I don't think I had heard the remark that the
May 19th letter had really been addressed to other NSAs. I did hear
it said in public at Convention by an NSA member. Perhaps this was in
the context of something in the letter--perhaps a comment about
disunity or appearance of disunity on the NSA--that the NSA couldn't
see as applying to it. It might also reflect the fact that the NSA
apparently didn't go to the House with a specific set of
questions--some general questions, yes--and received a letter back
that had specifics about subjects they had discussed little.

I say this based on comments I heard from delegates who attended the
Saturday morning session closed to the public and comments said in
public at Convention. I have no personal sources from conversations
in the Office. So the above speculations are purely "civilian" and do
not reflect anything I have heard as a staff member.

The best way to pursue this question individually is to look at the
May 19th letter yourselves. It was published in full in *The American
Baha'i* about June 1994. Some parts of it, it seems to me, are
obviously addressed to the American NSA. But it is conceivable that
the Universal House of Justice decided to use the letter as a medium
to address general issues in the functioning of NSAs; they realized
they were writing a significant letter, after all, and probably the
meeting with our NSA triggered a lot of thinking about patterns of
problems they have seen elsewhere.

In other words, I see no problem with the idea that parts of the
letter are specific to the American NSA and parts of it are about NSAs
in general. Which parts are which is actually known only to the House
of Justice. It is conceivable that different American NSA members,
thinking about their memories of their meeting with the House, would
come to different conclusions as to which parts of the May 19th letter
is a reply to them and which parts are more general. One member may
remember a particular exchange of views and see it reflected in the
letter; another member may have regarded the discussion as not of
great significance at that time and thus forgot it, and then might not
realize that a passage in the letter addresses that discussion. All
you need to do is ask all nine members of your LSA to take notes and
then compare the notes to see how different human experiences of a
meeting might be. That is why minutes are important.

As for specific changes the NSA has instituted, I think David listed
four or five things the NSA reported at Convention. Abolishing the
executive committee is the biggest change. One probably should not
expect a report about such matters mentioned in the letter as
monitoring the actions of NSA officers, or improving the NSA's
relationship with the Continental Board. Reports on these matters may
be made at a later date, when results are clear to everyone involved.

Let me offer a comment about the convention itself being "confusing."
I think this is hard to avoid, based on the mechanics of consultation.
The room has two microphones, one on the right, one on the left.
Delegates must speak into the microphones for everyone to hear them in
the huge room. Each microphone has a line of 5 to 10 delegates; each
speaks up to (and sometimes a bit more) than three minutes; thus any
delegate must wait about 45 minutes before he/she can speak. When they
comment, most of the time it is on something said 45 minutes earlier,
or on something on the general subject of the session; either way it
is not a response to the comment just made. This inevitably will
produce a consultation that appears disjoined. Some sessions will
have no clever new ideas and will be boring to many. Even the
sessions with a lot of good ideas and exchanges will bore some.

David, did you record the numbers given at the end about how many of
the delegates spoke at least once? I am under the impression it was
about 120 or 130 of the 166 present. Many delegates spoke many times,
even though they were discouraged from doing so. The "speaker to
lurker ratio," however, is better than Talisman's.

Not all of the Convention was consultation. Saturday night was, in my
opinion, a significant cultural event. The Baha'i gospel music
performed was not only new in content, but in genre as well. Eric
Dozier (a Baptist minister and seminary student who became a Baha'i
1.75 years ago) has brought into the community a new gospel style,
less rhythmatic and more jazzy, less "popular" and more
"professional." I can't describe it. At any rate, it was really
marvelous; very uplifting and inspiring. Everyone loved it. This was
the national debut of this type of music, I think. Those of you on
Talisman who are concerned with the art and mysticism: I'm sorry you
missed it.

The new Newsreel was well received also. It focused on the Louis
Gregory Institute in South Carolina and included interviews with two
non-Baha'is who praised the Faith to the sky for its commitments to
racial reconciliation and personal development.

So the Convention was not all bureaucratic business. A lot of
business is unavoidable; that is the purpose of Convention! A good
convention requires a delicate balance, because there are some there
(such as myself) who get very impatient when the Convention doesn't
produce results, such as good ideas from the consultation; and there
are others there who are very sensitive that it be an uplifting,
unifying experience. I think on Talisman we have these two wings well
represented, so perhaps you can understand the balance I refer to.

-- Rob Stockman

Dear Talismanians,

Thank you to all those who commented on and added to my coverage of
the US National Baha'i Convention. To those who suggested
publishing it in the American Baha'i and elsewhere -- I hope that
some day we can more consistently write about the Faith and its
activities with a journalistic approach.

I wanted to make some additional observations, completely separate
from the reportage on the convention, so you might want to think of
the following as editorial commentary. I also wanted to reply to
several of the questions posed by Ahang and others here on

First, my impressions. I've attended National Convention since
1982, when Dan Jordan was murdered and I was his alternate. The
shock and sadness of that event transformed itself into tears of
joy at my first convention. In each succeeding year, some
spiritual thread or significantly rousing occurrence usually
sparked the convention to a higher plane. That did not happen for
me this year -- but I don't mean to say that it didn't happen. As
Rob has pointed out, several convention sessions could have
provided that spiritual arousal, indeed did for some. In my case,
though, this year's convention lacked the spiritual lift I can
usually count on getting during Ridvan in Chicago. Why? Because
I felt like I was being spun.

"Spin" means influencing the flavor or tone imparted to an event or
statement or action, casting it in a particular light or managing
the reaction of those viewing it. "Spin doctors" or "spinmeisters"
work in politics and policy, primarily with the press, attempting
to promote good p.r. and emphasize the positive. In my work I deal
with the media every day, sometimes even doing some spinning
myself, so I have a fair idea of when I'm being spun.

Accordingly, this notion that the May 19th, 1994 letter from the
Universal House of Justice to the US National Spiritual Assembly
really directs itself to other NSAs strikes me as vintage spin
doctoring. I don't know who said it, but whoever did ought to be
ashamed of themselves. Dialogue among Baha'is, especially over
matters of major import like a policy letter from the Universal
House of Justice, suffers when spun.

The May 19th letter came addressed to the US NSA, as anyone who
reads it can plainly see. In their annual report introduction, the
NSA clearly states that the May 19th letter is "one of [the]
responses" from the Universal House of Justice to the NSA. The
letter specifically responds to the previous meeting the US NSA
requested with the House. It speaks directly and frankly about the
problems the US NSA talked to the House about. When Counsellor
Birkland spoke at the convention, he recounted his visit to the
Holy Land the day after the US NSA had published the House's letter
in the American Baha'i; and told of the UHJ's joy at seeing the
letter published, because, as he put it, the House could see that
the NSA had gotten the point of the letter -- increased openness --
and, only secondarily, because other Assemblies around the world
could now read it.

So should we believe that this claim reflects some new, arcane,
indirect communications strategy the Universal House of Justice has
devised? Hardly.

When a national convention revolves around the extraordinary
instructions and observations contained in a letter like the May
19th missive, three responses become possible: denial; spinning;
or open and frank consultation.

Some denial may still exist, as we can see from comments like the
one referenced above. Spinning certainly applies here, because the
convention heard all about how difficult it was to run such a
community; how no university for Baha'i administration exists; how
the message could really be read as a commentary on everyone else
but us. And for the most part, open and frank consultation did not
obtain during the convention, because the convention seemed
structured to avoid it. By restricting consultation on the May
19th letter to the closed Saturday morning post-balloting session
only; by taking up most of that session with comments from NSA
members; by individual NSA members issuing verbal interpretations
of the letter that stretched the limits of credibility; the NSA
imperiled the confidence, at this critical moment, of many of the
attendees, myself included, in the belief that at least some of our
national leaders took the May 19th letter entirely to heart.

Alright, where does that leave us? Like most Baha'is, I love the
institutions and try hard to obey them implicitly, but struggle to
find ways to remain confident and serve. So what can fix the
problems? The Universal House of Justice spelled it out in their
letter: take the friends into your complete confidence and
encourage open, honest consultation. Unfortunately, an atmosphere
of suspicion and defensiveness permeated much of the discussion
this past weekend. Many delegates were afraid to speak their
hearts and minds, and said so repeatedly, but, of course,
privately. One of the courageous few who did speak out and dare to
question received a reply from the podium that employed that phrase
guaranteed to chill all Baha'i exchange: "...your firmness in the
Covenant." Few expressed their real feelings after that.

But the National Assembly, to their credit, did repeatedly request
new input. When asked that question, many of the attendees
privately suggested the seeds for constructive approaches toward
regaining the confidence of the American Baha'i community. At the
risk of hearing that same chilling phrase, below you will find some
suggested actions our NSA and our community could take to find our
way out of stasis and into growth. As that process gains momentum,
we might also be able to rebuild the American Baha'i economy, which
has a $15 million annual budget and an almost $10 million debt.
And perhaps we could also begin to heal some of that suspicion and
defensiveness, too. To that end, some ideas:

-Open up the American Baha'i, make it an objective newspaper,
and empower it to do real journalism. Let it report honestly and
frankly on the Baha'i community, and change its role from simply a
house organ of the NSA, published only to put a positive spin on
all Baha'i activities, into one that reflects the Baha'i values of
truth, candor and honest exchange. Appoint professional Baha'i
journalists to an editorial/advisory board, and make it
independently responsible for editorial decision-making. This step
alone would make our Baha'i community distinct from all other

-Decentralize and restructure. Using the bold plan the NSA
has already developed, refocus the financial dealings of the
National Center, with an increased emphasis on teaching. All told,
the NSA's numbers show us we grew by about 1500 total declarations
this year. When you do the math -- $15 million divided by 1500 new
believers -- it means our national budget spends $10,000 per new
Baha'i. Restructure immediately, finding the $500,000 it will
reportedly cost by imposing a moratorium on the large travel

-Consider reducing executive payroll. Currently, we spend
half our national budget on salaries and benefits. Many NSA
members serve as full-time paid employees, and some receive
substantial perquisites. Without doubt, we need to remunerate
those who work full-time for the Faith, but with careful
restructuring, the potential for fewer full-time employees and
substantial cuts increases.

-With the money saved from restructuring, fund local
grassroots service and teaching projects, designed to "infuse the
spirit into the life of the community." (Shoghi Effendi) The
Guardian said this represents "the greater consequence" of our
actions, even more so than enrollments. Only the infusion of new
spirit will bring about the resumption of confidence that the NSA
needs. The resultant teaching victories will galvanize the
community at large, and national fund contributions will grow.
Baha'is contribute to the Arc Fund largely because those buildings
are tangible. Baha'is and LSAs will resume contributing to the
National Fund when tangible results occur, especially in the form
of new believers.

-Convene an "idea forum" at the National Center. Bring
together creative talent from the community, create an electronic
concepts bank that all believers could contribute to, poll LSAs on
their ideas for community growth, hold a weekend conference with
visitors from other NSAs like New Zealand, Alaska, El Salvador, and
other national Baha'i communities where substantial change has
taken place, even invite some of the disaffected and less-than-
enthusiastic Baha'is from the US to a meeting with the Counselors
and the entire NSA for the sole purposes of brainstorming and new
paradigm development. Many Baha'is have reached a point of
alienation from the administration -- we need to bring them back
into the tent by listening to their constructive criticism, not
marginalize them by ignoring their input.

-Form a localized volunteer Treasurer's Task Force, with the
stated objective of visiting all of the more than 400 non-
contributing LSAs in the US and inquiring why they do not
contribute. Empower the Auxiliary Board and its assistants to help
with the crucial work of community development with these LSAs and

-Sell extraneous Baha'i properties. Many of the more than 100
US Baha'i properties drain our treasury, to the tune of $3.3
million this year. For those properties with Baha'i significance,
offer them for sale to the Baha'is, and if necessary sell them with
a clause that prohibits destroying any historical value and a
clause that permits buy-back within a certain period.

-Stop blaming the Baha'is. Leaders take responsibility.
Every good educator knows that you can't educate by pointing out
the inadequacies of your students. Statements like this one in the
Annual Report: "Too few of the friends are infected with this
passion (for teaching); therefore, our progress is slow", even if
accurate, only serve to depress, demoralize and demean the
believers. Almost all Baha'is want to teach, and if led by their
institutions to a point where teaching, not meetings and
administration, becomes the most highly-valued Baha'i activity,
they will.

-Focus on local community. Build small centers, implement
local service projects with youth and others, develop a travelling
"feast development" corps, and encourage more social activities
like Baha'i sports teams, service projects and celebrations.

-Give every new Baha'i an active role in the community's
activities by assigning duties at the enrollment meeting. Give
each new Baha'i something to contribute. Almost all Baha'is do
teach. They carefully guide their seekers, pray for them, and then
lead them to the Baha'i community, where the seekers often have no
role as new Baha'is and meet with such rigidity, over-
administration, joyless talk or rancorous consultation that the
experience sours them. In an atmosphere of blame and fear and
futility, the Baha'i community becomes less than neutral. It
spurns growth. Rectify this by making all all activity center
around the careful nurturing of each new Baha'i.

-Take the Baha'i teachings outside. No social movement ever
flourished indoors. With the country focused on racially-centered
matters like affirmative action, take a stand for the active
encouragement of minorities and women and conduct a Baha'i march
from downtown Chicago to the Holiest House of Worship, for
instance. Make sure the march showcases our diversity, complete
with the beautiful international focus we saw at the World
Congress. Conduct simultaneous marches around the country. Invite
all those from marches we've supported -- Martin Luther King Day
and others -- to join us, and see if our support is reciprocated.
Or, if we want to act even more audaciously, hold the March in
Oklahoma City and theme it around peace, world order and the
oneness of humanity.

-And finally, find ways to encourage a more spiritual life for
the individual believer and the community. Establish a Baha'i
Mystics Society, ask each local community to hold "spiritual
meetings," request large regional LSAs or the Auxiliary Board to
hold regional conferences for the promotion of mysticism and
spirituality, and focus the Publishing Trust on a 5-year program of
publications aimed at making the Baha'i writings on mysticism and
spirituality available to the general public.

These represent only some of the suggestions I heard discussed at
the convention, and here on Talisman during the past few months,
and I've forwarded them to the NSA. I'm convinced that if we
listen, gradually removing the trepidation many Baha'is feel when
they express themselves honestly, we will find that the community
has hundreds of fresh new ideas just waiting to burst forth.
Creating an atmosphere where such ideas can be heard strikes me as
the most pressing duty of our administration today. If we try to
bring everyone into the process, rather than feeling suspicious or
alienated from one another, our ideas might flourish and grow. If
we continue to spin, our forward movement stops and we all keep
playing the blame game.

Thank you for your patient consideration of these ideas. I offer
them in the spirit of hope, helpfulness and reconciliation, and
with the sense, like Juan, that we may be on the cusp of change.

With loving greetings,


Dear Talismans,
I work in a department where 90+% of the staff are of one gender.
Most of their work is incomprehensible not only to the general public
or to academics in other disciplines but to most other individuals in
their own discipline. Many of them publish work in reputable journals
knowing that there may be less than a dozen people in the world who
can understand their arguments. They often pride themselves on how
their work is not relevant to real world problems. In fact the less
applied their theoretical work the higher its status. Many of these
individuals go into this area to hide from the rest of the world. They
make comments like "I went into this because it is either right or
wrong there are no grey areas" Or " I went into this because there
were no labs and no essays" . They often indulge in practices that
discourage members of the other gender or other ethnicities from
entering while paying lip service to equal opportunities. I don't
hear anyone arguing that this discipline should be shut down or that
it marginalises its adherents. This discipline is of course
I think Linda that this scenario represents the level of your
objections to `women's studies' .
It seems time that you
actually substantiated your claims rather than running down an
important area of scholarship. eg " Scientifically, I have problems with
any field where the answers are always there and that the
data is just added on to support preconceiv, notions which, IMHO, have been
glfied with the label of "theory." "

" I do not have a clue as to how
one truly tests feminist theory. It seems that one just has to creatively
read feminist ideas into any work or endeavor one wishes to interpret in a
certain way."
Would an outline of feminist research methodologies and
a justification of them satisfy you here, Linda? Because I could do
that for you if you thought it would. Please provide some
justification for this unsubstantiated claim. I could argue that this
is not my experience of feminist research and theoretical work; that
very high standards are required but this would just deteriorate into
a bit of `you said, she said', tit for tat.
One thing that has developed out of women's studies is a major
challenge to research methods in the social sciences. These
challenges have arisen out of beginning research from women's lives
and following through the consequences not just for the research
results but for the methodologies themselves. These challenges have
made important contributions to developing methodologies in the
traditional social science disciplines as well as within women's
studies itself.

"From personal experience I object to women's studies on other grounds as well.
I see women hiding in the field. I believe that women want to be educated,
they want degrees, but there is a fear in all of this as well. When we
publish, we open ourselves up for attack. When I write, I can be attacked on
doing shoddy fieldwork, using bad methodology, etc. But, when a person is
involved with feminist theory, if she is attacked, she can hide behind the
theory as an ideology. In other words, she can say, "if you don't like my
work, it is because you have a problem with feminist theory and that means you
are sexist." Furthermore, since mostly women are involved with feminist
studies, there is a feeling of safety in not having to be attacked by men.
But, where does this get us?"

Firstly I want to address the question of having one's work
`attacked'. There is an assumption being made here that this method
is the best, or most appropriate way of approaching scholarship; that
looking for ways to pull down another's work is most conducive to
good scholarship. This fundamental value is critiqued by many
feminist scholars working in women's studies. Within
women's studies there is much debate and critique of the work of
other theorists and researchers eg the work of women of colour or the
debates between feminist empiricists, standpoint theorists and
postmodernists in the feminist science debates.

Yes, Linda, you are correct in saying that some scholars may say that
`you disagree because you are sexist' and this is inadequate but at
the same time we need to be aware that sometimes that statement is
true. This is one of the many tensions within which feminist
scholars must work and like all other disciplines sometimes they fall
down and sometimes they don't.

Linda you often make claims about hiding behind the ideology. Could
you please clarify and substantiate your claims? It seems to me you
are doing just what you are criticising.

On another occasion Linda criticsed the male bashing that goes on in
women's studies and yes it does happen but it might be helpful to
ponder the contrext within which it does happen. For many women
beginning women's studies leads to the raising of their consciousness
to an excruciatingly painful level. As they realise that what they
thought was an experience unique to them as an individual is much
more wide spread, then as they delve deeper they come to see how
much greater the inequalities are than they had ever allowed
themselves to think before. With this often comes great anger and
mcuh `male bashing' but if you are dealing with the `harmful
attitudes of men' constantly I think this is understandable and is
part of a process. unfortunately some women get stuck in their anger.
For me personally the most deeply compassionate
people I have met have been women I met through women's studies. But
once again this is not necessarily going to convince anyone. Many
women arrive in women's studies bruised and battered from their
experiences in the male dominated academic main stream and through
women's studies they are able to gain some understanding of their
experiences and subsequently a true detachment not denial and then
they re-enter the mainstream with a strength and depth that enables them to
cope and make a difference.

Women's Studies offers much more than haven for women or a critique
of the mainstream; women make up the majority fo the world's
population, they are worth studying in their own right! But this is
not only what women's studies is. It also provides a critique of the
fundamental caegories of knowledges and this is what is of particular
interest to me personally.

One of the greatest strengths women's studies
offers is the ability to work across disciplines. Much of Western
scholarship has become trappped in the too narrow confines of tightly
defined disclinary boundaries and women's studies allows one to work
across the humanities and social sciences in ways that are not
usually acceptable in the mainstream.

My own work for instance, draws on feminist theories and research
methodologies, the history and philosophy of mathematics and the
feminist science debates because I am looking at not just the
experiences of women mathematicians but also the consequences for
mathematics of its masculine tradition. There isnt a site for me to
do this outside of women's studies. At the same time my ultimate aim
is to encourage more women into mathematics so they can fulfill Abdul
Baha's vision of having women participate in the agricultural and
industrial sciences.

I therefore see my work as very much Bahai scholarship even if I am
the only Bahai in the world who thinks so.

I now need to get on with my work but I intend writing more about the
consequences for women of working in very male dominated areas based
on my research, in the near future.

with warmest regards

Subject: K10-13 and K1
Date: Wednesday, May 17, 1995 3:55:19 EZT
Certify: N
Forwarded by:


Dear friends,
I must confess to having followed the discussion of K10 -13 with some
lack of enthusiasm until Linda's post on exemptions, ablutions and
menstration. Her comments once again demonstrated to me the link between
scholarship and love of Baha'u'llah. By placing this in some historical and
cultural context I was again stuck by how significant Baha'u'lah's actions
were and are in light of the 19th century middle east. This is anexample of
the background knowledge that is the best of what Talsman has to offer.
Thanks Linda !
Now for my two cents worth. Being one of Tony's Westerners I have never
been overly concerned with ablutions oe exemptions. They semed there to me to
make a point about the purpose of prayer. The saying of prayers is only one
form of prayer. Work is worship and all. Even more important it seems to me
is that if all things were purified at Ridvan, is the inner act of prayer. If
, as Abdu'l Baha has suggested, that " in reality, the radiant pure hearts
are the Mashriqu ' Adhkar . ." then the intention within the heart is more
important than the outer form of expression. Interestingly , to me, the heart
is the house of worship and we know that the House is the central shrine of a
broader and deeper reality associated with a series of dependencies then the
efficacy of one's prayer would seem to be related more to agency- act in the
world, than to the outer form of the prayer itself. In short prayer -
communion is incomplete if it does not result in agency or service to
humankind. This reality is expressed institutionally in the dependencies of
the Mashriqu' Adhkar. It has it's counterpart within the individual in acts
which realize the institutional activity of the Mashriq.
So personal prayer in and of itself is a necessary but not sufficient
condition for attainng the spiritual perfections, which Juan sometime earlier
suggested , are the purpose of our existence and Baha'u'llah's intent. The
saying of prayers, uncoupled from action in the world is of limited value
both to the development " of an ever-advancing civilization " or to oneself
since the world provides the background in and thru which spiritual
perfections are realized. I think this is the point the Guardian makes in his
lenghty statement in Baha'i Administration about the limited value of acts
"of passive worship " in isolation from engagement with the world.
This seems to me to bring us back to K1 and the recognition and
observance twins. In order to have recognized, attained knowledge of the
heart, I must needs observe the ordinances. These ordinances have to do with
both inner and outer transformation. One is not acceptable without the other.
As Baha'u'llah states "Build ye houses of worship . . " this is an act in the
world, " . ". then with radiance and joy, celebrate therein . ." After all
the act of, and work associated with "building" is worship. It does not seem
sufficient to say my prayers , warm fuzzy's and all , with or without ablution
s if it does not translate into " disinterested service to the cause of
humanity." Baha'i Admin p186. And "in reality . . ." warm regards,

  • Return to Talisman

  • Translation Page

  • Baha'i Studies Page

  • J. Cole Home Page

    WebMaster: Juan R.I. Cole