From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comWed Sep  6 23:18:05 1995
Date: Wed, 06 Sep 95 11:39:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: I'm back ...

[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]

Dear Friends,

I'm pleased to be back on Talisman and look forward to learning 
and benefiting from your considered views.

Hope you'll forgive me if I jump right in the discussion, so with 
your permission, I'll proceed.

In a posting a few minutes ago, Juan wrote:

> As for `Abdu'l-Baha being more than a "mubayyin" or Expounder 
> of Baha'u'llah's Writings, that is obvious ...

A minor point, but there is a letter from the beloved Guardian to 
David Hoffman (quoted by Mr. Hoffman in his paper published in 
"The Vision of Shoghi Effendi") that the word "mubayyin" (from 
"tab`yin") should be translated and understood as "Interpreter" 
which is the function of the Master and his (ie. Shoghi 
Effendi's) function is that of Exposition, "Tashrih" ("shari`" = 
Expounder).

The importance of this clarification by the beloved Guardian, in 
my view, is that it differentiates between the Interpretation of 
the Master and Expositions of the Guardian -- not in authority, 
but in *function*.

>  However, he was not endued with the authority to legislate 
>  (shara`a) divine legislation (shari`ah); since such authority 
>  depends on receiving Revelation (wahy), it is out of the 
>  question.  

I'm sorry, my beloved brother, but I need a bit more convincing 
here.

Firstly, Baha'u'llah gave the Master unlimited authority.  
Nowhere in the Writings of Baha'u'llah does He define the scope 
of the Master's function, and only extremely broad statements 
such as "Turn your faces towards Him", etc.

Secondly, why do you say that authority to legislate depends on 
"wahy"?  Surely, the House of Justice legislates and does not 
receive wahy, so why not the Master?  (For that matter, every LSA 
legislates and only a few of them receive wahy. :-}  )  If you 
mean Abdu'l-Baha was not authorized to start an *independent* 
shari'ah, implying a new Theophony, of course you're quite right.  
But certainly, He was authorized to augment (through His 
Interpretations) any aspect of Divine Law (and not just 
Baha'u'llah's, but *all* Revealed Laws!).  As evidence I offer 
His Will and Testament where on numerous occasions He used His 
Office to *in effect* legislate:  (1) manner of appointment of 
the Hands of the Cause,  (2) manner of election of the House of 
Justice,  (3) relationship between the Hands and the sitting 
Guardian,  (4) formula for ratification of appointment of future 
Guardians, etc.

Thirdly, it's important to keep in mind that both the Guardian 
and the House of Justice *together* are the Twin Successors of 
Abdu'l-Baha.  If Abdu'l-Baha was not authorized to legislate, 
then how is that He could pass on this authority to the House of 
Justice?  (Now, I understand that independent of the W&T, 
Baha'u'llah gives this authority to the House of Justice, but the 
Twin Successor bit can't be dismissed.)

> Moreover, there are inconsistencies over time in his statements 
> on some issues (and between some of his statements and those of 
> the Guardian), and the question for contemporary Baha'is must
> be how to decide to which of these to give the greatest 
> weight....

> The generality of American Baha'is appear to think that such 
> inconsistencies as I have mentioned do not exist...

Juan, perhaps you be kind enough to give some examples of these 
"inconsistencies" that you're referring to, because this Persian 
Baha'i is just as ignorant of them as "the generality of American 
Baha'is". 

(I don't mean to start anything but remember in "Khatirat-i Nuh 
Salih" where Dr. Unis Khan recounts how the Master received 
"wahy" and tells of his experience of seeing the Master reading 
off from two celestial Tablets suspended in the air before 
Abdu'l-Baha's face.  There are similar passages in Mirza Badi` 
Bushrui's memories, too.  In other words, I think that when it 
comes to Abdu'l-Baha its difficult to classify it as "wahy" or 
"ilham".  But of course, the beloved Guardian is yet another 
sweet melody and its clearly in the realm of ilham.) 

Again forgive me for jumping right in with both feet, but 
Talisman and swimming have a lot in common.

much love, ahang.

From jrcole@umich.eduThu Sep  7 10:58:12 1995
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 1995 23:13:49 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: revelation and inspiration



A hearty welcome back to our beloved friend and profound scholar Ahang 
Rabbani!  I have often thought of the wonderful energy, enthusiasm and 
boundless love Ahang brought Talisman last winter and spring, and 
considered whether he wasn't a key ingredient to its growth and success; 
certainly some of the rough patches this summer might have been avoided 
if he had been here.

Well, of course I could defer with regard to `Abdu'l-Baha to your 
profound knowledge, and would be right in doing so, but that wouldn't be 
any fun, would it?

I am trying to build toward a Baha'i hermeneutics or science of 
interpretation that does not depend on folk wisdom or broad sweeps of 
assumed knowledge.  Rather, I think the spirit of Baha'u'llah's warnings 
about hadiths is to guide us to depend primarily on texts.

With regard to `Abdu'l-Baha, we cannot say he was the recipient of divine 
Revelation on the basis of what Baha'u'llah said about him.  As far as I 
can tell, Baha'u'llah said very little in writing about `Abdu'l-Baha's 
functions.  The main text with in this regard is the Aqdas: "refer ye 
whatsoever ye understand not in the Book to Him [`Abdu'l-Baha] Who hath 
branched from this mighty Stock." (K174).  This is the basis for his 
tabyin or Interpretation.  In the Kitab-i `Ahd Baha'u'llah urges the 
Baha'is to look to `Abdu'l-Baha for leadership, thus recognizing him as 
Head of the Faith.  Does Baha'u'llah ever explicitly bestow more than 
these two specific functions upon `Abdu'l-Baha?  Does the Master ever 
explicitly claim more than these two?

In fact, `Abdu'l-Baha limits reception of divine Revelation/wahy to the 
Rasul or Messenger of God, and Brent posted a passage from the beloved 
Guardian also saying that with Baha'u'llah's ascension Revelation ceased 
for at least 1,000 years.

Khatirat-i Nuh Salih is pilgrim's notes; no doubt many Iranian Baha'i 
attributed divine Revelation to `Abdu'l-Baha; American Baha'is made him 
into a Manifestation of God and the Return of Christ.  This is not a 
basis on which we can soundly proceed in Baha'i hermeneutics.  
(Incidentally, don't I recall something from Khatirat-i Nuh Salih or 
Khatirat-i Habib about `Abdu'l-Baha saying that the Universal House of 
Justice is not infallible?  This is a slippery slope.)

As for divine Legislation (shari`ah), this is a prerogative of the 
Manifestation of God.  What the Universal House of Justice has is 
contingent legislation (tashri`), which is suited to a particular 
situation and can be repealed.  Baha'u'llah explicitly bestows contingent 
legislation on the House in Ishraq 8.  He nowhere speaks of `Abdu'l-Baha 
as having the power of tashri`, nor am I aware that either `Abdu'l-Baha 
or Shoghi Effendi attributed to the Master this authority.  Tashri` is in 
any case not immutable.

If any text can be produced to show I am wrong, I would be glad to 
reconsider.

One example, which I gave in detail earlier, of disagreements among the 
Holy Figures over time, is that of Baha'i participation in politics.  
`Abdu'l-Baha at times allowed quite extensive Baha'i involvement in 
politics, and he always allowed much more than the Guardian did 
subsequently.  As heirs of all these conflicting policies, which should 
we now choose as normative?  The ordinary Baha'i answer is that the 
Guardian's stance is normative, but where a policy of the Guardian 
differs from one of Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha, should that really 
trump the others for all time?  Why? 


Please note:  the approach to interpretation or hermeneutics I am 
employing here assumes that traditional knowledge is suspect; that 
specific texts must be adduced to support specific propositions; that the 
whole corpus of concerned texts must be weighed against one another; and 
that historical context and change over time must form part of the analysis.
I agree with Gadamer that this approach cannot produce absolutely 
objective knowledge, and that it is a tradition in its own right (a 
language game if you will).  But it is for me a fruitful tradition, and 
this is the game I am playing.


cheers   Juan Cole, History, Univ. of Michigan

From richs@microsoft.comThu Sep  7 11:05:36 1995
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 95 21:38:20 PDT
From: Rick Schaut 
To: owner-talisman@indiana.edu, talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: revelation and inspiration

Dear Juan and Friends,

>From: Juan R Cole  
>I am trying to build toward a Baha'i hermeneutics or science of
>interpretation that does not depend on folk wisdom or broad sweeps of
>assumed knowledge.  Rather, I think the spirit of Baha'u'llah's warnings
>about hadiths is to guide us to depend primarily on texts.

Juan, I think you've found the answer, but you've forgotten the
question.  I'll extend your example to put the question into the
frame of reference which should resolve the problems we've
encountered:

>One example, which I gave in detail earlier, of disagreements among the
>Holy Figures over time, is that of Baha'i participation in politics.
>`Abdu'l-Baha at times allowed quite extensive Baha'i involvement in
>politics, and he always allowed much more than the Guardian did
>subsequently.  As heirs of all these conflicting policies, which should
>we now choose as normative?  The ordinary Baha'i answer is that the
>Guardian's stance is normative, but where a policy of the Guardian
>differs from one of Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha, should that really
>trump the others for all time?  Why?

What specific authority was Shoghi Effendi exercising when he
banned participation in partisain politics?  My guess is protection
of the Faith, which would mean that the Universal House of Justice
can cange the injunction whenever it is no longer pertinent to the
protection of the Faith.

I think you want to try to figure out what authority was being exercised
in the writing of a given text.  Once you figure that out, the rest of the
questions are easy.

I must confess that I don't have a rigorous way to determine this (hence
my use of the word "guess" above).  I was rather hoping that those
Talizens trained in these techniques, particularly as they apply to the
practice of law (Brent?), would be able to shed some light on this.


Warmest Regards,
Rick



From robert.johnston@stonebow.otago.ac.nzThu Sep  7 11:06:30 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 16:46:56 +1200
From: Robert Johnston 
To: S&W Michael , talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women/UHJ - not over yet ...

Dear Suzanne,


RE:

(And that is why earlier claims that certain
>talismanians are trying to 'subvert' the House are utterly illogical, as I
>don't believe anyone has stated that the House is wrong.  They have stated
>that the possibility exists in the future for the House to change.)


It appears you -- and others -- think that there is a possibility that the
House may change its mind on this matter.  However, from my reading of the
letter (to the NZ Baha'is) it would seem that this kind of speculation is
effectively proscribed.  The House wrote:

"As mentioned earlier, the law regarding the membership of the
Universal House of Justice is embedded in the Text and has
been merely restated by the divinely appointed interpreters. It
is therefore neither amenable to change nor subject to
speculation about some possible future condition."

I particularly draw your attention to the second sentence.

IMV, then, believing the possibility exists does appear to mean
disagreement with the House.

Subversion of the status of the House, as the most excellent Burl Barer has
pointed out, is rather impossible.  However, in rather simple terms, I do
not see much wisdom in generating and spreading false ideas.  I don't know
whether this whole matter falls into this category yet.  But, I am most
respectful of your wish that we be entirely reasonable in this matter.  And
I feel most strongly that some of the mud-slinging on the part of some of
the advocates of the "House may or should reconsider" viewpoint has been
entirely un-called for and not funny.  Let's all stick to a consideration
of the T[t]ext, and not impugn the motives of those who hold opposite
views.  I know this  does not apply to you Suzanne, but I am alarmed at
those who accuse me and others of sexism when it appears that our position
is entirely consistent with that of the Faith.  Certainly they do nothing
to endear themselves to me.

Robert.




From 73613.2712@compuserve.comThu Sep  7 11:13:58 1995
Date: 07 Sep 95 03:29:30 EDT
From: Steven Scholl <73613.2712@compuserve.com>
To: Talisman 
Subject: Domains of Authority/Women on UHJ

Dear Friends,

It has been difficult for me to pick up all Talisman messages due to time and
budget contraints, so perhaps someone has already addressed my question. Awhile
back I posted what I see as the most likely path to service of women on the
Universal House of Justice. My understanding of Baha'i law is that the
Guardian's arena of "infallibility" lies in interpretation of the sacred texts
while the Universal House of Justice is to pronounce authoritatively and
"infallibly" on all matters of Baha'i legislation and administration that are
not clear in the sacred texts. Broadly speaking, then, the Guardian is the
Perfect Interpreter with the House of Justice as the Perfect Legislative body.
As Sen and others have pointed out, Shoghi Effendi's statements re: the ban on
women serving as elected members of the House of Justice are rather minimalist
in nature, noting the existence of Abdu'l-Baha's tablet on the matter and how
this will have to be something we learn to live with until its wisdom becomes
clear (again a restatement of Abdu'l-Baha's words). My sense of the matter is
that Shoghi Effendi did not go beyond this minimalist statement and simply let
stand the status quo because (1) at the time there was no UHJ in existence and
(2) he recognized that this was an area of concern that can only be definitively
ruled on by the House of Justice as it is outside of the Guardian's realm of
authoritative infallibility. 

This is my understanding of why Shoghi Effendi does not have the last word on
the matter. What has been made clear via our discussions is that due to the
all-encompassing, non-sexist definition of "rijal" given by Baha'u'llah, the
sacred texts are not clear on this matter of Baha'i legislation. Thus, any
statements from Shoghi Effendi on this unclear area of Baha'i legislation are
vital but not definitive and that only the Universal House of Justice can
"infallibly" rule on the matter.

As several have noted, no one is saying that the House is wrong or that they do
not have the final word. Indeed, as you can see, my point is that they do have
the final word and they are in their full rights as the final authority on
Baha'i legislation to reverse the current ban of women from service on the
Supreme Body of the Baha'i Faith. 

I would appreciate if someone with greater knowledge and insight inthe area of
Baha'i law and jursiprudence would speak to this line of argument. Rob Stockman,
Frank Lewis, Juan Cole, John Walbridge, Brent Poirer, and Sen McGlinn are all
better versed than I in this area of Baha'i studies. Any thoughts from the
esteemed above mentioned or other Talizens will be deeply appreciated.

Steve Scholl



From burlb@bmi.netThu Sep  7 11:15:33 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 95 00:35 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Ahmad's Theory/Dickie's Theory

Dear Talismaniacs:

The conversation regarding The Seed of Creation has many of us in Walla
Walla, Washington mystified.  Now, its not often that we take time from the
pea harvest, Frontier Days, and the Classic Car Shine 'n' Show to ruminate
on these topics, but I swear that the old boys sitting around Dickie's
Barber Shop went through a case of Copenhagen chewing this one over.

The general consensus is that our good buddy Ahmad Anise is sticking an
infinite peg into a male hole. Painful to say, and uncomfortable to
contemplate, but it seems that he is overlooking the essential, Biblical
fact that women were never meant to be born. Now, don't get the boys at the
barber shop wrong -- they're not saying that women shouldn't exist, or that
they are inferior to men, they simply are reminding you that women were
never meant to be born.

It goes like this:Eve was made from Adam's rib. She wasn't born. God
anesthetized (Anisethetized?) Adam, took out a rib bone, and fashioned Eve
as his companion from that very rib. God would not have done that unless
there was a darn good reason. Everyone at Dickie's Barber Shop agrees that
God, despite doing some pretty weird stuff, has reasons we can't understand
anymore than Milo at the Mobile Station understands fuel injection -- if it
doesn't have a carburetor, Milo just tosses down his tools and lights
another Lucky-- anyway, God obviously intended that each and every man would
have his own custom crafted woman made from  his very own rib.  Even asleep,
it probably hurt and took time to heal. So, back in our DNA memories we men
know what it is like to have a new being come to life from our bodies, our
selves.

So, you may well ask: "Why are women born today instead of being made like
God planned?" Because of sin. Pure and simple, if sin can be either pure or
simple.  Before the fall, God made each one from the man. Maybe God
intended, over time, that men could sort of tell God exactly what attributes
and such he wanted in his special ordered companion -- sort of like when you
order one of those hand-made Avanti's from the folks who bought the rights
from Studebaker. Each one is one of a kind, but just the way the owner
wanted it.  After the fall, God got peeved and thought up this real complex
bit of aggravation where women get born instead of made. BUT in the
beginning, women were never meant to be born. 

The boys over at Dickie's think that Ahmad Anise's Seed of Creation Theory
is just another "chicken/egg = chicken salad" argument.  It doesn't hold
water any better than the little woman did when she was about to go into labor.

Now, I don't want Mr. Anise or one of you other folks to get all worked up
over this.  I think the boys at Dickie's Barber Shop are entitled to their
opinion, and besides all that, even Adam knew how to take a good ribbing.

Burl (clean up the sideburns while your at it) Barer



From Alethinos@aol.comThu Sep  7 11:23:57 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 04:49:17 -0400
From: Alethinos@aol.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women/UHJ - not over yet ...

I am taking a HUGE risk here in stating this. The risk is that once again the
list will be deluged with posts about the subject. 

For me this issue is crystal clear. Since I do believe in Baha'u'llah and the
Covanant, and consequently in the conferred infallibility of the Universal
House of Justice -(i.e. Its decisions) and since the House has stated,
flatly, _with no apparent qualifications_ that women will not serve on the
Universal House of Justice the *questioning* we have been seeing is
essentially wasted energy. 

If we really do have faith in this Cause - in its Founder, Center of the
Covenant, Guardian and Universal House of Justice than this really is _not_
an issue at all. While there has been some interesting speculations and
interpretations, both historical and linguistic as well as cultural, the main
point is still this:

The Universal House of Justice has said, with no apparent reservations - "No"
to this question. 

If, at some future date the Universal House of Justice says that women can
serve as members, so be it . . . Insha'u'llah. None of us here will be
storming the gates to make it so. And nothing we say here will *influence*
the House - to believe otherwise would be to state that the House does NOT
have infallibility. I trust that through its own maturity as an Institution,
and the development of the auxilliary institutions which already exist or
will exist around it in the future many amazing *announcements* will come. If
the call comes for women to sit on the House, well than every Baha'i who
follows, with instant, exact and complete obedience will embody the true
meaning of this verse:

 Were He to decree as lawful the thing which from
time immemorial had been forbidden, and forbid that
which had, at all times, been regarded as lawful, to
none is given the right to question His authority.
(The Kitab-i-Aqdas, page 77)

       "He doeth whatsoever He willeth"

         (TB., p. 51)


Jim Harrison

Alethinos@aol.com

From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlThu Sep  7 11:24:54 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 95 11:23:16 EZT
From: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: glosses on translations

A thousand thanks to Juan for more of the notes to the ode, and to those who
offered glosses on the ShahIfa bayna 'l-haramayn. I trust the Tarjmunites
will continue to cross-post everything for our benefit. I have a tireless
hunger for glosses (and I'm putting them all neatly in order for the benefit
of posterity).

More please! Steve's 7 valleys includes the translation:
>Ocean of the Divine Ipseity (bahr al-huwiya),
while his red-dune gloss says:
>the call of the letter "H" (al-ha' = huwiyya = the Manifestation of God?)
Now Ipseity must mean something like being-in-itself (high school latin, 
long ago) which would be the unknowable unthinkable essence of 
God-in-Godself, right? And the Manifestation by definition is the 
manifestation
of the kingdom of the names and attributes of God NOT the essence of God,
right (or wrong, you tell me). So what's going on here?

Also, who will gloss the donkey in the the ShahIfa bayna 'l-haramayn for me? 
please?

Sen


From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlThu Sep  7 11:25:59 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 95 11:22:35 EZT
From: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Sonja: equality

DisCLAIMER: from Sonja van Kerkhoff

In response to Ahmad's arguments that functionality and equality can b
e different from each other, I think that the basis of the 

discussion must be that there be equal opportunity (rights, if you like)
in order for there to be any equality at all, and then from that a
discussion on what functions the sexes could be developed/discussed.
But if one says that different sexes have innately different functions
(opportunities) then that is not equality. And equality is the main point
of all the quotations that have been recently posted, where areas such as
function and creation are mentioned as part of the argument for
equality. 

I cannot see how you can separate equality from function. How can you
have equality when some people are excluded from some spheres on the
basis of their sex. Like men from motherhood? BTW this is meant as a
rhetorical question, as I know a great man who is a wonderful mother.

Re: emancipation: As I see it, things are not going to change very fast
if women are still burdened with the full responsibility of mothering.
When it is shared, then it's fun. When people choose to do this as a
major job, then it is a choice. But the society we live in today tends to
assume that a mother does most of the mothering and if she doesn't
then she is some-how not 'good', or damaging her children, etc. Of
course this is nonsense, there are lots of ways to mother children. But
it's a bit scary when the "mother being the first educator" reference is
used then to psychologically bind women to the home (and the private).

In response to Derek: 
I think it is very important to discuss the lack or possible presence of
women on the Universal House of Justice, because it is THE policy that
runs against the principle of equality in the Bahai Faith. And it has
direct implications on how women are valued - such as how the lack of
the service of women is often used as a justification for arguing that
equality is not the same as equal opportunity. 
Luckily it is the only inconsistently, but it is one that makes a Bahai
claim of equality for all, hard to justify - and not only to non-Bahais or
feminists but to myself. Suzanne has already posted about the danger of
using labels because they are often used as a way to avoid dealing with
difference, however I am proud of what feminism (in all it's wild and
woolley guises (joke)) has done.
arohanui Sonja


From sw@solsys.ak.planet.gen.nzThu Sep  7 11:27:15 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 95 22:48 NZST
From: S&W Michael 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Women/UHJ

Dear Friends
Dear Robert

I've had a disturbing evening pondering my "stuckness", but I think I've
gotten unstuck ...

I was disturbed because there appeared to be another implication of not
"speculating", which was the issue of independent investigation ...

The House surely is not saying we cannot investigate this issue ...

So I think what the House is saying when it says this is not "subject to
speculation" is that the House does not see there is anything to speculate
about, and of course this is entirely consistent with the House's
legislation on the issue of women and the House.

I'm reminded of Ian Semple's talk recently serialised in our national
newsletter in NZ where a young scholar kept asking the House for permission
to read things written by covenant-breakers (for the purpose of some
research project) and the House kept saying that it was better not to do
this (or words to that effect - I can't remember the exact quote), and the
young scholar wrote back and said, Yes, he knew it was better not to, but
could the House please give its permission, to which the House replied that
it was better not to do this.  The House did not give its permission,
neither did they say the young scholar must not read these works - Ian
Semple's comment was that the House wished it wouldn't get these kinds of
letters.

The upshot of this is that I think the House clearly favours a mature
response of taking personal responsibility for what one exposes oneself to,
and therefore I don't think the House is making any kind of command that
the Baha'is do not speculate, rather it's stating that it doesn't see (as
I've said above) what such speculation will bring, because the House has
stated its views on this (and legislated on this) very clearly.

So - voila - I'm out of my corner!

Suzanne Michael
NZ


From robert.johnston@stonebow.otago.ac.nzThu Sep  7 11:27:41 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 00:40:37 +1200
From: Robert Johnston 
To: S&W Michael , talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women/UHJ

Dear Suzanne,

>So - voila - I'm out of my corner!


1) I am reminded of the lover in the Valley of Knowledge.

2) Clearly Baha'is are permitted and encouraged to investigate matters such
as the one we are dealing with.  Clearly also, this will involve
speculative thought.  Clearly yet again, the purpose of investigation and
consultation on matters such as the one we are dealing with is
clarification and agreement -- the promotion of harmony.  So: there is no
need to burn candles or complain of darkness once the sun has risen.

I do not think that anyone suggested that the House would inflict penalties
on us if  we mis-read the W[w]ritings. But I would suggest that if someone
persisted in propagating a clearly wrong interpretation of the Writings --
such as the view that women may become members of the House during this
Dispensation -- at places like Summer Schools and in literature, it would
be most unlikely that some form of censure from an Assembly at least would
not occur.  [Just my viewpoint, I stress.]  The letter to  New Zealand from
the House arose after someone presented a session at Summer School
suggesting the abovementioned suggestion.  Obviously it was not very well
received in certain influential quarters....


3) [I haven't heard from Alison on this yet...I seem to recall that she is
very fond of the Semple story also.  But I could be wrong.]

Greetings also to your silent partner, William.  [Did you read "Pictures"
yet, W?]

fondly,

Robert.



From rvh3@columbia.eduThu Sep  7 11:28:08 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 09:43:57 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Vernon Hollinger 
To: Alethinos@aol.com
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women/UHJ - not over yet ...

On Thu, 7 Sep 1995 Alethinos@aol.com wrote:

> And nothing we say here will *influence*
> the House - to believe otherwise would be to state that the House does NOT
> have infallibility. 

I guess it all depends what you mean by infallibility.  I tend to think 
this means that the UHJ is the final authority--not that their 
decisions are based on insitutional omniscience.  If 
nothing anyone says will have an influence on the UHJ decisions, why 
should anyone communicate with that body except to ask questions?  Why 
does the UHJ consult with counsellors, NSA's, and individual Baha'is, 
if their input will not have an effect on their decisions?

Richard

From frlw@midway.uchicago.eduThu Sep  7 11:35:36 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 10:18:42 -0500 (CDT)
From: Frank Lewis 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: revelation, inspiration and textual bias

    Mythologically speaking, it seems to me that Abdu'l-Baha is, in
Baha'i sacred history, the equivalent of `Ali.  That is to say that,
conceptually and emotionally "Abdu'l-Baha" or the image/concept we have of
him, fulfills many of the same functions or roles that `Ali fulfills for
Shi`ites--the primary model of behavior and an object of extreme personal
devotion.  Some Baha'is, at least during Abdu'l-Baha's lifetime, even
demonstrated a devotion and attributed a station to the Master that is
similar to extremist `Alid groups such as the `Aliullahis, who hold that
`Ali was God.
     The Guardianship is mythologically equivalent to the Shiite imamate.
As Moojan or Juan has pointed out, the term *Vali-ye amr allAh* [Guardian of
the Cause of God] is also applied to the Shi`ite imams.  Like the 6th Imam,
Ja`far al-Sadiq, to whom is attributed the development of Shi`ite
jurisprudence, Shoghi Effendi developed by administration, applied Baha'i
laws and principles in a concrete way to the community and established the
basis of Baha'i jurisprudence.
     The Bab and the Babis, especially those at Shaykh Tabarsi and Nayriz
and Zanjan, represent (once again speaking mythologically), like the
martyred Husayn and his companions, a righteous but politically hopeless
attempt on the part of God's designated representatives on earth to take
rightful control of worldly affairs.  
     The Universal House of Justice, like the later Shi`i imams, is not
directly connected by personal interaction with the Manifestation or with
Abdu'l-Baha.  Moojan has pointed out that in the Twelver Shi`ite tradition,
the later Shi`ite Imams, who were too young at the time of the death of
their fathers/preceeding Imams to have received religious instruction or
family histories directly from them, were believed by Shi`ite theologians to
have received "innate knowledge" that came to them "at the moment of death
of the previous Imam."  It strikes me that this belief is rather similar
(or one might say structurally parallel) to the Baha'i belief that the UHJ
is "infallible" and "inspired by God."  In other respects, however, the
House of Justice seems to be a direct descendant of the Qur'anic injunction
(42:38, wa amruhum shuuraa baynahum) that the Muslim faithful should
conduct their affairs by consultation and the Sunni theory of election of the
Caliph.  Although in practice (except for the first few Caliphs), the
Caliphs were almost all dynastically appointed by their predecessor, in
the elaborate theories worked out for the Caliphate, the believers were to
elect the Caliph, who had to meet several conditions before being qualified
to be Caliph.
    As for Juan's statement that "Whatever [Baha] told `Abdu'l-Baha can only
be considered a hadith; it has no normative or legal force except to the
extent that it is reflected in written texts."   I would agree with this
statement only insofar as Abdu'l-Baha's writings are included in this body
of "written texts."  Abdu'l-Baha writes, for example, that the intent of
Baha's statement in the Aqdas about not marrying more than two wives, since
it is contingent on the impossible condition of justice, is actually that
Baha'is should take only one wife.  Well, AB is supplying a written text
here that points to a knowledge of Baha's intent, which AB may have received
directly from an oral conversation with Baha, or which he may have intuited
from Baha's other statements, or which he may have been guided to in the
world of prayer.  It is my understanding that it is not necessary for us to
have a text directly from Baha to confirm AB's interpretation.  Upon the
jurisprudential principles that Juan has laid out (as I understand them),
one could argue that if the UHJ, in codifying the tablets of Baha,
1) found a previously unknown text from Baha that was, let us say, revealed
subsequent to the Aqdas and late in his life (thus establishing historically
that Baha'u'llah had not changed his mind on the subject and abrogated an
earlier law)
2) and that said Tablet clearly indicated that it was possible for some men
to treat two wives justly, or if it simply said that Mr. X was a perfect
example of the just treatment of two wives,
3) and that it could be shown that AB was unaware of this Tablet,
4) then the UHJ could over-ride AB's instruction and allow men to marry two
wives.
    I don't think this is the case.  For one thing, as I have argued, this
is a textually over-determined view of the universe, where one text is
assumed to trump another.  It is also, it strikes me, a rather materialist
or determinist view of religion, which ignores AB's or Shoghi Effendi's
access to the noumenal sphere.  That is to say, since we believe in the
realm of prayer, if AB or SE prayed about the meaning of the teachings of
Baha, even if they did not have access to all the Tablets, it seems
difficult to me that we, who have not been granted the right to
authoritative interpretation, could argue that their interpretation was
incomplete because of lack of access to a certain text.
   In any case, I would argue that not every text of Baha has equal weight.
Clearly some tablets (Kitab-i-Iqan) are more important than others (Kitab-i
Badi`) in explaining his doctrines and outlook.  Baha often repeated
the themes he thought were most important and would obviously have had some
idea of how widely a given letter to a given individual would or would not
be distributed.  If Baha wrote, on a single occasion to a single person,
that X is the case, whereas he apparently said on many occasions to
different individuals that Y is the case, where Y seems to be mutually
exclusive of X, then one is faced with an interpretive problem that a
purely textual view of the universe cannot solve.
    I have argued several months ago on Talisman that the meaning or
interpretation of texts is not always self-evident, just as the "meaning" or
realization of the written notes of a musical score are not self-evident.
The meaning of texts can only become clear in performing them, or
"translating" them into real-life, just as a conductor must translate the
notes of Beethoven's 9th symphony into an actual performance, a
"realization" of what the notes "mean."    Does one follow Beethoven's
metronome markings or not?  Does one play on period instruments or on modern
ones?  How does one incorporate the scholarship that has been done on
Beethoven's manuscripts (i.e., if there appears to the ear to be a mistake,
does one assume that Beethoven has made the mistake or that he meant what
he wrote and we just are not accustomed to hearing what he meant [this
can be a real question in some of the later String Quartets])?  If Beethoven
gave instructions to his pupil(s) about how he wished one of his works to be
performed, do we take that into consideration or not?
      Interpretation is essential to the meaning of any text.   Personally,
I feel that the distinctions that have been drawn between legislation and
interpretation are rather weak.  While it is true that there is a
difference, one cannot be done without the other.  It is not possible for
me or anyone else to pick up a text and pass a law on the basis of that
text without having interpreted the meaning of the text.  Our
interpretation of the meaning is conditioned by many factors--what we
understand the genre of the text to be; what we know about its author and
the author's other works; the context in which the text was created; the
possible range of meanings (sometimes ambiguous) of individual words; the
reader's cultural predispositions, personal psychology and life experience;
the burning historical, political, cultural or other situations facing
readers of the text at the particular point in history that they encounter
and engage the text (obviously, this varies from generation to generation);
the tradition in which the text is received (in the case of Baha's Tablets,
this would include the understanding of AB and SE and the UHJ of said
texts).
     I hope it is clear that I am not arguing for a cut-and-dried way to
interpret texts.  What I am saying is that the situation is much more
complex for Baha'i jurisprudence, or Baha'i spirituality, or the
interpretation of any text, than what Juan has described, and that it is
impossible (or at least not very artful) to write equations or hard-and-fast
rules for how texts must be interpreted.
        yours, Frank Lewis



From MBOYER%UKANVM.BITNET@pucc.PRINCETON.EDUThu Sep  7 12:34:29 1995
Date: Tue, 05 Sep 95 12:11:35 CDT
From: Milissa Boyer 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: MacEoin's book

Hi Talismanians--

Recent discussion of MacEoin's book gives me this opportunity to ask a
question about his book _Rituals_ and a statement found therein:

"Abdu'l-Baha strongly deprecated the Western practice of women appearing
in public with heads uncovered and enjoined the wearing of the charqad or
scarf, which would surround the face on all sides and prevent men not of the
family from seeing their hair.  The face and hands alone may be uncovered. In
practice, this injunction is far from being observed, whether by Western Baha'i
women or emancipated Iranian women, and it is hard to see how it could be en-
forced at the present time."   ------pg. 68, his reference is _Amr_III, p. 341-
342.


Well, you know uppity me! I had to find out about this.  And what I found out
was very interesting. My dear friend Golshah tracked down this reference and
provided the following translation of MacEoin's reference:

"In this dispensation, Hijab is superior than before.  In Islam hijab(physical)
had become so strict that women could not walk in the streets and market places
They were like slaves.  In order that they could engage in some occupation and
be educated, showing their hands and faces should have been permitted in any
era.  In this era, however, there is no need for these matters.  Maybe at some
time the spiritual assembly would let women to wear the Persian women's charqad
which would surround their face from all sides which would prevent men not of
the family to see their hair, not like western women who go out with their hair
shoulder, and hands showing........"


later on 'Abdu'l-Baha adds:  "Therefore, hijab was not like this in Islam
(originally) and these restrictions were added to it later to a degree that
they imprisoned women and prevented them from education and forced wome into
supreme denigration. This was the reason that women in the East were prevented
from any progress. But chastity is essential and there should be some guide-
lines, but to a degree that does not prevent women from education. Education is
essential."

__________________

Well, needless to say I was pleased with this!  Golshah emphasized that it was
a rough translation, but one can get the gist of what 'Abdu'l-Baha was saying.

My question is not about what 'Abdu'l-Baha thought about hijab, but rather
WHERE ON EARTH DID MACEOIN GET HIS IDEA?  From the translation I received,
it appears that MacEoin obviously misrepresented what 'Abdu'l-Baha said.
I don't like to think people would deliberatly mispresent 'Abdu'l-Baha but
this one is hard to understand.

Is Golshah's translation accurate enough?  She gave me the translation for
the reference MacEoin gave. Perhaps he really read this somewhere else?

Thanks everyone for your thoughts on the matter!

Sincerely,


Milissa Boyer                     

From JRuhl@tchmail01.tchden.orgThu Sep  7 12:56:36 1995
Date: Wed, 06 Sep 95 11:39:00 PDT
From: "Ruhl, Jordis" 
To: 'talisman' 
Subject: Out of the Cyber Shadow


Dear Talismanians and Taliswomanians (sorry -- in light of the latest 
postings I couldn't resist),

Some of you I know and, after several months of lurking here, some of you I 
feel I know, and some of you I feel I may never know.  But it's probably 
about time for you to know me.

It was my brother, David, who linked me up to Talisman, and I've been trying 
my darndest since May just to keep up with the postings.  I've wanted to 
introduce myself but (like many lurkers I suspect) I don't feel I have quite 
the intellect to join in.   So why now?   After all the postings on women it 
is clear to me I have both something to say and something to add.

But first, an introduction.  I am a 38-year-old married female working as a 
manager of communications for a children's hospital in Denver, Colorado.  I 
have been a Baha'i since 1986, and have served on the LSA of Denver from 
'87-95, in every capacity except treasurer.  (Is it just in the communities 
I'm familiar with, or does it hold true that most local treasurers are male? 
 Hmm.)  And yes, Ahmad, I am a  feminist (eek!).  Hardened?  What an odd 
adjective to use with the term feminist.  The three adjectives I've found 
that most often -- and most accurately -- modify the word are "closet," 
"committed" and "anti-."

I first learned of the Faith at age 11 when my teenaged brothers came home 
bursting with the news of Baha'u'llah.  My parents -- in retrospect very 
Baha'i-thinking folks who always encouraged, indeed insisted upon, the 
independent investigation of truth -- were open to the information but 
reserved.  To me, the news that God is one and all religions are one rang in 
perfect harmony with my heart.  It was that lesser organ, the brain, that 
took such a long time to understand the information fully.  Soon after, my 
sister became a Baha'i as did my third brother.  I waited for almost 19 
years to become a Baha'i.

As a writer and a reader, I'm fascinated by most topics discussed here. 
 Those I'm not particularly interested in are usually simply over my head, 
but like playing tennis with someone better, I hope to learn from each of 
you.

I'm particularly interested in discussing the Aqdas, Shoghi Effendi's 
writings and literature.  Unlike my dear brother David, I'm not in least 
interested in discussing the National Spiritual Assembly or the Universal 
House of Justice and their motives, but I love listening to/reading him when 
he does.  I agree with many, or perhaps all, of his observations on the 
current state of the Faith in the U.S., but I am too strongly a believer in 
the twins sisters of fate and free will to lend much worry or concern over 
particular actions or decisions.

I'm also particularly interested in discussions relating to backbiting. 
 When I open the front page of The Denver Post, page two begins with a 
column titled, "People."  When did the gossip column lurch to such 
prominence?  I'm barraged by gossip in all media, and the "grapevine" at 
work is mostly backbiting.  It's tough enough to try to purge backbiting and 
gossip from my own personal relationships, but it's nearly impossible at 
work when it infuses the entire culture.  I find that many Baha'is view 
backbiting as a less important topic for discussion and action than, say, 
administration, but it confronts me every day.  Possibly this is a topic for 
further discussion here, or perhaps in a less scholarly arena.  If any of 
you have stories or know of more obscure writings regarding backbiting 
(Brent, are you there?), please send them to me on the internet at 
jruhl@tchden.org.

Happy to be online with you all.

Jordis Langness Ruhl



From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlThu Sep  7 18:10:35 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 95 19:16:39 EZT
From: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: mutatis

Dear Saman:
that's an interesting theory. I've probably thrown a spanner
in the works by comparing the laws only with the Bayanic laws,
which could be considered Baha'i or 'previous dispensation'
depending on how you're looking at it. Is a law found in the
Bayan but not in any previous dispensation part of your group 3,
or not? In any case, I think we need to take some specific laws
and try to fill them in to the framework, and see how good the
fit is. I've made a small start, I should have more time next week
to look at this further
Sen


1) Laws already CONTAINED in previous dispensations which
treated men and women differently: Baha'u'llah explicitly 
ordains a change to the law that applies to men and women
equally.
       Greeting formula (assuming Baha'u'llah approved the
       change) FIT?
       Infidelity FIT
       Divorce FIT

2) Laws which He affirms from previous dispensations, He
applies them to males or females - in the same manner that they
appeared in prior revelations
       Guardianship (imamate), male only: FIT (but not ordained
       by Baha'u'llah I think)
       Dowry PARTLY FIT (need a category 2a for laws
       retained, and still sex-specific, but very much softened,
       made optional etc.)
       Right to support during separation (?)

3) Laws unique to the Baha'i Faith: Baha'u'llah addresses them
to males only - allowing Abdul Baha and Shoghi Effendi to
interpret them to have broader meaning if and when necessary
       Inheritance FIT (interpretation in this case in the Q&A)
       House of Justice FIT

4) Laws specifically addressed to women which are cancelled
       Uncleanliness during menses

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sen McGlinn                           ph: 31-43-216854
Andre Severinweg 47                   email: Sen.McGlinn@RL.RuLimburg.NL
6214 PL Maastricht, the Netherlands   
                                 ***
When, however, thou dost contemplate the innermost essence of things,
                 and the individuality of each, 
         thou wilt behold the signs of thy Lord's mercy . . ." 
------------------------------------------------------------------------


From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlThu Sep  7 18:12:31 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 95 19:17:23 EZT
From: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: interpreter/expounder

Ahang referred to: "a letter from the beloved Guardian to 
David Hoffman (quoted by Mr. Hoffman in his paper published
in "The Vision of Shoghi Effendi") that the word "mubayyin"
(from "tab`yin") should be translated and understood as
"Interpreter" which is the function of the Master and his (ie.
Shoghi Effendi's) function is that of Exposition, "Tashrih"
("shari`" = Expounder)."

However I've checked Mr. Hoffman's essay in The Vision of
Shoghi Effendi, and can't find this reference there. Perhaps I
missed it, or perhaps our beloved Ahang was functioning with
coffee up to his eyeballs at the time :-). In your absence, Ahang,
someone else made the same distinction and it was discussed. I'd like to hear 
your comments. 
I'm copying my posts from then below [old hands hit DELETE]. The
fact that useful distinctions in the original are lost or entirely
mixed up in the English translations points to the need for
scientific translations of the key texts: even orthologic
translations which mechanically replace an Arabic word with the
same English 'equivalent' would be useful.

Sen

------------------------------------------------------------
The key text is from the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha:  

     O my loving friends! After the passing away of this
     wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsan...to turn
     unto Shoghi Effendi...as he is the sign of God, the
     chosen branch,  the Guardian of the Cause of God,...the
     expounder of the words of God"  
     ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
at least, that is the version on p 11 in the 1968 edition of the
Will and Testament, published by the NSA of the USA and
Canada, 1944,  "from text received [from Shoghi Effendi]
February 25 1922," but copyrighted 1944  (a small booklet
format).    
    But in the version available as e-text from the world centre
and in the REFER programme we find:  
     "O my loving friends!  After the passing away of this 
     wronged one, it is incumbent upon the &Aghsan ... to 
     turn unto Shoghi Effendi ... as he is the sign of God, 
     the chosen branch, the Guardian of the  Cause of God,
     ... the Interpreter of the Word of God " 
            ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^       

Which is the same as Shoghi Effendi's other translation of this
passage:
       "He is the Interpreter of the Word of God," Abdu'l-Baha,
       referring to the functions of the Guardian of the Faith,
       asserts, using in His Will the very term which He Himself
       had chosen when refuting the argument of the
       Covenant-breakers who had challenged His right to
       interpret the utterances of Baha'u'llah. (World Order of
       Baha'u'llah, pages 148-149)  

My guess is that an editor has decided to incorporate Shoghi
Effendi's later translation back into the 1922 translation. It could
also be that the NSA inserted the 'expounder' in their first
edition, and it has now been removed, but it seems unlikely.

Thus I agree that there is a difference in English between the
terms, and will bow to Bijan's knowledge when he says that
there is a difference between "Mubayyin" (Expounder) and
"Mufassir" (Interpreter), but I doubt that our translations are
sytematic enough to draw any conclusions based on English
texts. Perhaps one could disregard early texts from Shoghi
Effendi which use these terms, on the grounds that he became
aware of the distinction between them only later. Equally,
perhaps when he was writing the World Order letters he
translated that short phrase from memory, and remembered the
original incorrectly. I think that editors have no right to tidy 
it up - it should be left as Shoghi Effendi translated it on both
occassions.

[deleted long compaint about standard of textual hygiene in
Baha'i publications, silent editorial amendments, general
degeneracy of the younger generation etc.]

------------------------------------------------------
(from an earlier post)
...    So I have checked this one out carefully using the sources I
have available. Thus far, I must say that it doesn't fly at all (as
Orville said). First of all, 'Abdu'l-Baha is also the Expounder:
       "... what appear to us to be the guiding principles
       underlying the World Order of Baha'u'llah, as amplified
       and enunciated by Abdu'l-Baha, the Center of His
       Covenant with all mankind and the appointed Interpreter
       and Expounder of His Word. (World Order of Baha'u'llah,
       page 35; the same term is used again at page 37; see also
       Baha'i Administration, page 191 or Bahiyyih Khanum,
       pages 36-37; God Passes By, page 325; 

Second, [reference to Will & Testament, see above]

Third, although Shoghi Effendi himself clearly thought he was
the Interpreter, this did not mean that he was 'the Interpeter' in
the same sense (or in the same station) as 'Abdu'l-Baha:
       The fact that the Guardian has been specifically endowed
       with such power as he may need to reveal the purport and
       disclose the implications of the utterances of Baha'u'llah
       and of Abdu'l-Baha does not necessarily confer upon him
       a station co-equal with those Whose words he is called
       upon to *interpret*.  He can exercise that right and
       discharge this obligation and yet remain infinitely inferior
       to both of them in rank and different in nature. (World
       Order of Baha'u'llah, page 151) 
So while there probably is a distinction between their
interpretations, I don't see that the use of the words Interpreter or
Expounder in a particular text gives us any clues at all. The
meanings are not quite the same, but clearly both 'Abdu'l-Baha
and Shoghi Effendi are authorised interpreters and expounders.

For your convenience, a very brief list of references follows [...]

"the right of interpretation with which He has invested its
Guardian" (God Passes By, page 326)

"The hereditary authority which the Guardian of the
Administrative Order is called upon to exercise, and the right of
the interpretation of the Holy Writ solely conferred upon him.."
(God Passes By, pages 326-327)

"it is made indubitably clear and evident that the Guardian of the
Faith has been made the Interpreter of the Word ...  The
interpretation of the Guardian, functioning within his own sphere,
is as authoritative and binding as the enactments of the
International House of Justice, "
(World Order of Baha'u'llah, pages 149-150)

"the Guardian of the Faith ... interprets what has been specifically
revealed.. (World Order of Baha'u'llah, page 150)

and from a secretary:

He is the Guardian of the Cause in the very fullness of that
term, and the appointed interpreter of its teachings...
(Letters to Aust. and New Zealand, page 55)

"The infallibility of the Guardian is confined to matters
which are related strictly to the Cause and interpretation of the
teachings...
(Directives of the Guardian, pages 33-34)

see also - Bahiyyih Khanum, pages 146-147; 153-154; 159;
160-161

---------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sen McGlinn                         ----------------


From s0a7254@tam2000.tamu.eduThu Sep  7 18:12:58 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 12:29:29 -0500 (CDT)
From: Saman Ahmadi 
To: talisman 
Subject: Re: interpretation


Dear Juan and All,

While I would agree with you that a *group* composed
of 9 Western professors in the Humanities would not have
come up with the decision you cited, I don't think we can
say that a *House of Justice* composed of the same men
would have come up with a decision different than what
the current House has ruled. By the same token we can not
say that they would come up with the same decision either.
(I realize I said something different in another posting 
but I think that the idea of not knowing the answer to
this kind of hypothetical is valid.)

On another note: in the Aqdas, Baha'u'llah writes that
He had held back the Pen in the face of numerous
letters from Baha'is asking for the revelation of Laws - 
is there a record of Baha'u'llah's individual responses to those
whose request was not granted?

regards,
sAmAn

From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlThu Sep  7 18:14:50 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 95 19:15:41 EZT
From: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: women and UHJ

Dear Suzanne 
Regarding your desire to see the question of possible future
changes more widely discussed, I don't see the corner. The House
says

       ...the law regarding the membership of the Universal
       House of Justice is ... neither amenable to change nor
       subject TO speculation about some possible future
       condition.

They don't say it is not a subject FOR speculation. But we
cannot expect our speculations to lead to a change. I would be
strongly against any attempt to stir up agitation for change, too.
As I've said before, I think the appropriate channel for change is
the prayerful voting by National Spiritual Assembly members at
the time of the international convention. So speculate away: if
they had wanted to say it was not a subject for speculation or for
discussion they could have done so. I think they would be horrified
at the reading that they were trying to proscribe speculation. The
Universal House of Justice just doesn't function like that!

It is interesting that they say that the law is "embedded in the
Text and has been merely restated by the divinely appointed
interpreters." They are thus NOT reading the various Tablets of
`Abdu'l-Baha and the letters from Shoghi Effendi's secretaries on
this point as 'interpretations', which 'become part of the sacred
text and cannot be changed'. This is a considerable step forwards. 
The exclusion then rests on the interpretation of the Universal 
House of Justice that the law is embedded in the Text (of the 
Aqdas presumably). Given that interpretation, they cannot make 
any change. If they change their interpretation, it's a whole 
new ball game.

Steve (Hi!): yes your summing up seems to capsulize the situation 
well regarding the writings of the Guardian. This part of the question
is not adequately dealt with in the paper 'The Service of Women' - it
requires a more theological approach to the definition of the Guardian's
authority (as he defined it himself) based on the Dispensation of 
Baha'u'llah, chapter on 'The Administrative Order'. I think the authors 
of 'The Service of Women' were more historically than theologically 
inclined. I have a paper on 'interpretative principles' submitted to the 
Baha'i Studies Review (advt.) One of the reviewers called the paper 'a 
theology of the Guardianship', and I think it does say something useful 
about the underlying principles.  

Regarding the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha and Baha'u'llah, the Universal 
House of Justice will not make any legislation unless they are quite 
sure that this is not a matter which is explicitly provided for in 
the Text (so that it falls within their sphere). If they decide that 
what is in the text is open to various interpretations, their first 
legislation on the matter may well be negative, either because the 
needs of the community require it, or because their understanding of the
most probable meaning of the texts is that they were intended to 
exclude women. But even negative legislation would be another step 
forward.

BTW (acronym for your pleasure Suzanne), when I heard the
paper 'The Service of Women' I also felt that the matter was now
'as clear as the noonday sun': that phrase actually came to mind
when the reader (Jan Tilly) came to an end and the (thunderous)
applause began. It was a momentous day for the Faith and an
indescribable experience to be there in person. And in sharing this 
research with others over the years since, I have seen its healing 
effect on some very sincere and pained women. 

Sen

PS I should say that I am not in any way connected with the Bahai 
Studies Review and the editors have not put me up to my advertisements
for them in any way. I just think it's a good journal, with the right 
balance between academic form and discussing the things that really 
matter to the community. Also a relatively hassle-free and rapid-reaction 
place to submit papers, for anyone considering that.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sen McGlinn                          


From richs@microsoft.comThu Sep  7 18:15:39 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 95 10:42:08 PDT
From: Rick Schaut 
To: owner-talisman@indiana.edu, talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: Domains of Authority/Women on UHJ

Dear Steven and Friends,

First, it's extremely difficult to base any claim to a lack of clarity on
a perceived contradiction between two texts.  How does one perceive
a contradiction without interpreting one of the texts?  When we ask this
question in the context of Baha'i Law and the issue of women on the
Universal House of Justice, the problem is made even more difficult by
the existence of laws which accord rights and duties differently for men
than they do for women and about which `Abdu'l-Baha made no
statement whatsoever.

Secondly, because Shoghi Effendi does nothing more than point to
`Abdu'l-Baha's statement on the issue, the authoritative status of Shoghi
Effendi's statements isn't probative.  Rather, the authoritative status of
`Abdu'l-Baha's statements is probative.


I believe the only way to proceed on this issue is to an examination of the
authoritative status of `Abdu'l-Baha's statements.  I don't feel qualified to
make such an examination, but I should point out that the authoritative
status of one statement does not determine the status of another.

To illustrate this, `Abdu'l-Baha may have banned women from serving
on the Chicago House of Justice in an exercise of his authority as
Head of the Faith.  This does not mean that `Abdu'l-Baha's statement
about the 8th Ishraq (is that the right text, Juan?) was also an exercise
of his authority as Head of the Faith.  This latter statement might have
been an interpretation of the text.  The two statements may inculcate
conflicting policies, but the conflict would be resolved through a
comparison of the authoritative status which devolves to the two
statements.



Warmest Regards,
Rick



From gpoirier@acca.nmsu.eduThu Sep  7 18:18:02 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 12:48:47 -0600 (MDT)
From: "[G. Brent Poirier]" 
To: Rick Schaut 
Cc: owner-talisman@indiana.edu, talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: revelation and inspiration

OK, I'll try to reply before heading out of town to the Glenwood Springs 
Conference , which I highly recommend.

 On Wed, 6 Sep 1995, Rick Schaut wrote:

> What specific authority was Shoghi Effendi exercising when he
> banned participation in partisain politics?  My guess is protection
> of the Faith, which would mean that the Universal House of Justice
> can cange the injunction whenever it is no longer pertinent to the
> protection of the Faith.

It's not only an issue of protection; it's an aspect of the mirror 
principles that just as we expect our governments to not interfere in our 
religious activities (and this is the one area where we Baha'is are free 
to defy our governments, and in some cases, must do so to retain our 
administrative rights), likewise, we do not interfere in matters of state 
(not only not interfere in partisan politics).  

However, since Baha'u'llah endowed the House with authority over all 
"matters of state," this policy will change with the passage of time.  
Juan, you and Tony and Sen have a copy of the (1986, I think) letter from 
the House on politics, in which the House explicitly said this.  

Juan, I think that you feel that while the House can and should permit 
more Baha'i involvement in politics, you feel that there is a limit to 
that.  That is, most US Baha'is feel that for today, the degree of 
political involvement is OK; but in future, the Baha'i institutions will 
*be* the political institutions.  You argue for more involvement today, 
but a more restrained role in future, where the Baha'i religious 
institutions function alongside secular non-Baha'i institutions.

> I must confess that I don't have a rigorous way to determine this (hence
> my use of the word "guess" above).  I was rather hoping that those
> Talizens trained in these techniques, particularly as they apply to the
> practice of law (Brent?), would be able to shed some light on this.

Well, permit me a pointed, not-intended-to-be-critical analogy.  Just as
today's university environment is in some ways toxic to the development of
Baha'i scholarship, a legal education and participation in today's legal
system does not necessarily endow one with any particular capacities in
the area of Baha'i law.  We have to learn how to benefit from, yet be
above, our environment (be "dry in the sea").  I have no hesitation in
saying that Juan is far more knowledgeable in jurisprudence than I am. 
'Course, that doesn't mean I agree with him lots of times.  I quite agree
that we are in the embryonic stages of not only Baha'i philosophy, but
Baha'i jurisprudence, and it's fun to bounce ideas off of one another. 
One of the areas that interests me is the nature of the Guardian's
statements.  Which are interpretations?  Which interpretations are
identified as such?  Which are comments on today's current events?  PDC
seems to be not only interpretive, but a discussion of the application of
prophecy in Islam and the Baha'i Writings, to current events and social
trends; and these were subject to change.  The Guardian's statement on
Hitler in "The Light of Divine Guidance" is made expressly conditional on
future events and future information; unlike such comments on the trends
in society, he never made interpretations with such conditions placed on
them.  I do not mean to imply that the Guardian was only infallible in
interpretation; he expressly claimed infallibility in protection of the
Faith (hence his title, "Guardian of the Cause of God.")
                         ^^^^^^^^

As far as the statements in the Aqdas, Tablet of the Branch, and 
Kitab-i-Ahd about 'Abdu'l-Baha:  While the statement of Baha'u'llah 
endowing the Master with the power of interpretation is brief ("refer ye 
whatsoever ye understand not in the Book to Him...") there are statements 
in Tablets and in public addresses by 'Abdu'l-Baha interpreting this 
verse, which expands considerably my understanding of the verse.

Brent



From TLCULHANE@aol.comThu Sep  7 18:19:26 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 15:47:33 -0400
From: TLCULHANE@aol.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: re:Interpretation and S. Destiny

  Dear Friends,

     What a treat to find Ahang's , Juan's and Frank's posts on this question
. As in January when this issue came up  it is all way over my head .  I dont
pretend to understand the nuances in the argumeny . Nevertheless I find it
facsinating and mind stretching . I hope it will continue . For starters
could someone explain to me the difference between Juans and Franks
description . I am sure there is a difference of emphasis but I dont see it .
They seemed to my untrained eye to be very similiar one expresssed in the
language of a Literature Professor , the other in the language of a legal
historian.

   Derek and others :  It seems clear to me based on Baha'u'llah'a
description ( and my personal experience )  that the Feminine is clearly an
active force  viz  the Siyah Chal , an event I love to meditate upon . 

    Jim H.    I would  love to discuss the Spiritual Destiny issue . For it
ti have any expanatory power for me -- and I think others among the rank and
file -- it will need to come down from the level of grand theory and address
specific issues .  Where we may disagree is in our reading of American
history . I would argue that the Bahai Community is an heir to a long
reformist tradition stretching back to the Puritans , the Jeffersonian
democrats , the womens suffregists, abolitionists, the agrarian populists and
peoples party(among my personal favorites with their call for a cooperative
commonwealth), Debsian socialists , Catholic worker movement, M.L. king and
the southern civil rights movement among others .

 If we plan to "wake up" America we are going to have to find themes that are
understandable and build on those existing traditions. Presenting ourselves
as an "alien" religion here to save a nation and culture that "sucks" or is
old order is not going to get us very far. It sure has not to date.  It also
has the effect of cuttinf Baha'i's off from thosze sources within their own
background which are identity forming and therefore are capable of sustaining
a sense of mission . I think it would be helpful in this regard if we took a
good look at wht M. L. King and the SCLC did in building on the culture of
the AmericanSouth as well as the rural Black church  and fashioned a movement
that was successful . ( It problems later occurred in attempting to
transplant that to a northern urban setting )

  I will post what seem to me some of the convergences and the tradition to
which we are heirs  as the month rolls along.  Right now I have this
intriguing thought of Jonathan Edwards as a Shayk Ahmad of the West .  Has
anyone read his _Nature of True Virtue_ recently ? It reads a little like the
Hidden Words in prose married to the Advent of Diviune Justice .     OR his
call for a redemptive commonwealth that would embrace the whole of humanity ?
(he thought by the 20th century ) Not bad for a fellow writing in the 1740s.

    warm regards 
      Terry

From haukness@tenet.eduThu Sep  7 18:23:22 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 15:52:51 -0500 (CDT)
From: John Haukness 
To: Alethinos@aol.com
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women/UHJ - not over yet ...

Allah-u-abha Friends: I think Jim's post very aptly speaks to the dilemma 
those of us (especially if we are male) have if we don't have problems 
with Bahaullah's writings, and for those of us who have wasted little, if 
any of our time, speculating on any problems within the station of Abdul 
Baha or Shoghi Effendi. My guess is that we can be perceived as ostriches 
or lemmings, which is ok with me. Politically, I was a hardened feminist 
before I became a Baha'i, and althought my loss of previously held 
beliefs surprised me at times, non the less the loss was a fast as the 
blink of an eye. Bahaullah, how can I thank you, for sending to us your 
son and great grandson, thankyou, thankyou, forever, thankyou!


haukness@tenet.edu


From haukness@tenet.eduThu Sep  7 18:24:15 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 16:13:47 -0500 (CDT)
From: John Haukness 
To: Juan R Cole 
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: interpretation

Allah-u-abha Friends: Ah, Juan, but I have seen many replys to the 
question of how can you not have women on the House and not be sexist. 
Posts as to it is a matter of role and function not a matter of sex, and 
another is that the House is a position of serving, not a position of 
power. So what you are saying to me, being you read them is that you 
don't accept them as sound, not that you haven't seen them. This is ok, 
some of us however see them as sound. I also want to say that repeatedly 
people have stated that obviously all this commotion means that it 
certainly cannot be clear as the noon day sun to anyone. This also is not 
true, I am not airing out that it is clear to me, but I will put forth 
that just because it seems wrong to a group of people does not mean that 
in this day 153BE is is not at least kind of clear to somepeople already. 
Again, as I have said before, I do not see this issue as predominant in 
keeping people away from the faith, obviously, Juan and many tali people 
do see it as predominate but I see many issues, such as chastity and 
alcohol etc, etc. as equal stumbling blocks to the senses. BTW Hand of 
the Cause Bahiyyih Khanum has frequently written that this issue is a non 
issue for her, in fact, I know of more women that it is a non issue than 
a detriment. Cheers and you all sleep well out there in cyberland.


haukness@tenet.edu


From burlb@bmi.netThu Sep  7 18:29:25 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 95 14:37 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
To: Juan R Cole 
Subject: Re: interpretation

>
> A House full of Western 
>university professors in the humanities would never have dreamed of 
>ordering a primary source such as Salmani's memoirs of Baha'u'llah to 
>be bowdlerized in English translation.
>
   As English is the only language I am able to read, what am I missing in
the original?  Did they take out the hot parts or something?

   Burl
>
>


From burlb@bmi.netThu Sep  7 18:29:55 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 95 14:51 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
To: H-C deFlerier deCourcelles <100735.2257@compuserve.com>
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: I am that I am..


> Now if our Mr. Barer is none but Mr. Singh-Rathore coming back with a pen
name.....

  Say it ain't so, Joe!  I'm not Mr. Rathore, Basil Rathbone, Singh N.
Endirain, Singh A. Poire, Nina Simone, Simon Schuster, Saman Ali Faithful,
Mirza Awful Coffee, or Havha Tasti Wahful, so leggo my eggo (ego) and know
for a fact that he who indentifies me with other than myself has
misaprehended  my reality.-- I am just plain ol' Burl Barer from Walla
Walla, Washington who writes to Talisman instead of writing his book...oh
yeah, any of you big city kids bought my latest one yet?  I notice a lack of
comments about its brilliance which I attribute to you all just being polite
-- I did manage to browbeat about 40+ Baha'is to buy it at Bosch last week,
thanks to the promotional efforts of Derek Cockshut.  I bet it is the first
work of its kind ever sold at Bosch. I made sure I signed all the copies so
they couldn't be sent back :-)

Burl
 
>


From 72110.2126@compuserve.comThu Sep  7 22:30:13 1995
Date: 07 Sep 95 18:43:25 EDT
From: David Langness <72110.2126@compuserve.com>
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: A Woman's Place is on the House

Dear Talismaniacs and Burl, too,

Kudos to Burl for being the first on Talisman to mention Studebakers,
a heavy academic interest of mine since I'm in the midst of building one
in my garage...

But, hey, Burl, they don't call it The Supreme Body for nothing, you 
know.  I've often heard the argument that women shouldn't worry that they
get excluded from the House of Justice because it really isn't where the
power exists, that being at the grass roots.  Such an argument has always
seemed highly specious to me.  Rather akin to the Mormons proclaiming
that their (former) exclusion of blacks from the priesthood was no
reflection on any lack of spiritual capacity, in a sense.

Just a short tale to buttress several views heretofore expressed:

Last year two friends from the Stanford area called and asked if I would
send the Women on the House paper to a physicist who had recently declared
and who was contemplating withdrawal, as she had just found out the little
secret we don't discuss at firesides, namely the exclusion of women from
the Supreme Body.  I sent her the paper.  She read it, drew some hope from
it, and remains a Baha'i.

Seems to me that's what we're discussing here, no?  Just some way to keep
hope alive.

Love,

David


From derekmc@ix.netcom.comThu Sep  7 22:30:43 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 15:56:11 -0700
From: DEREK COCKSHUT 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re I am what I am or the secret life of Burl Barer.

Gentle Talismanians,this week-end at the Bosch Baha'i School we 
witnessed a Master Author at work.After running through the hail of 
opened walnut shells from Wild Pete up above to the Book Shop
Cafe, Burl showed ways of selling books that dazzled the mind.21 people 
were amazed to discover that they had co/wrote the book on the astral 
plane with Burl.That I was Burl evil twin,that everyone of the 41 
purchasers were actually mentioned in the book, you only had to look 
hard with the inner perspective to see that.Burl was a direct ancestor 
of Richard the Lionheart,Gengis Khan,Marco Polo and Florence 
Nightingale and in addition has his hair cut at Dickie's in Walla 
Walla.Only one soul was brave enough to refuse to buy the Famous 
Book,he had been married for just 10 months Burl and I explained to his 
Bride the true story of his life before her.We were surprised to find 
that he slept outside their cabin that night no doubt to view the stars 
and guard his beloved.We have in the Bookshop, 702 and a half signed 
copies to sell priced at $19.95,I will be posting a review of this 
Masterpiece shortly.Kindest Regards< and rather overstocked >Derek 
Cockshut 

From M.C.Day@massey.ac.nzThu Sep  7 22:36:48 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 11:39:18 GMT=1200
From: Mary Day 
To: Juan R Cole 
Subject: Re: interpretation

Dear Juan, Much as I hate to take a husband's side against a wife's 
having the hardened feminist attitudes that I don't, but although the 
prime minister of Pakistan is a woman the literacy rate for women in 
that country is 20% and falling.
Mary



From momen@northill.demon.co.ukThu Sep  7 22:40:50 1995
Date: Thu, 07 Sep 95 23:27:41
From: Wendi and Moojan Momen 
To: talisman@ucs.indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Retranslation of SAQ Chapters

In article: <9509041628.AA21880@superior> cbuck@ccs.carleton.ca writes:
> 
> Keven Brown writes:
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> Incidentally, the chapter on wahdat al-wujud in SAQ is very poorly
> translated in my opinion. If I have time, I propose posting a revised
> translation of it, or perhaps another of the esteemed contributors to
> this forum may take on the task.
> __________________
> Buck:
> ^^^^
> 	Question: Is the World Centre planning on retranslating SAQ?
> What of the missing text of SAQ? What is happening with that? Is the
> Persian original available? I am very anxious to see the missing text!
> 
> 	I think there ought to be two retranslated editions of SAQ:
> (1) text only; (2) an edition with technical terms in parentheses for
> academic use.
> 
> 	I heartily endorse the idea of retranslations of chapters of
> SAQ on Tarjuman!
> 
> 	Christopher Buck
 
AS far as I know, a retranslation of *Some Answered Questions* is proceeding
under the auspices of Haifa, but on the North American continent. Several of
those involved are on Talisman. So I would think that it would make sense for 
Keven to hold off on his retranslation.

Moojan


-- 
Wendi and Moojan Momen
momen@northill.demon.co.uk

From robert.johnston@stonebow.otago.ac.nzThu Sep  7 22:41:37 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 12:15:37 +1200
From: Robert Johnston 
To: David Langness <72110.2126@compuserve.com>, talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: A Woman's Place is on the House

David "Papa Hemingway" Langness, having cleaned his sniper's rifle,
poignantly wrote:

>Last year two friends from the Stanford area called and asked if I would
>send the Women on the House paper to a physicist who had recently declared
>and who was contemplating withdrawal, as she had just found out the little
>secret we don't discuss at firesides, namely the exclusion of women from
>the Supreme Body.  I sent her the paper.  She read it, drew some hope from
>it, and remains a Baha'i.
>
>Seems to me that's what we're discussing here, no?  Just some way to keep
>hope alive.


Obviously finding the right balance is very hard to accomplish.  This woman
is a soul attracted to the Kingdom, and has the virtue of being a person of
capacity, it would seem.  However, I  have strong  reservations regarding
the wisdom of keeping hope alive  through use of a fallacy.  This, bluntly
put, reduces to the Faith to some kind of Cargo Cult status which it can't
sustain.  The only liars approved within the Faith [that I know of] are
physicians in certain circumstances.  Even lawyers shouldn't play John
Frum.
My own view is that there is a certain preciousness about bending over
backwards to make things easy for believers in the over-indulged west.
Generally I believe that the greatest opportunities for teaching the Faith
lie among the less pampered.

I feel certain that this viewpoint will get up someone's nose.  But that's
life, and fortunately I live a long way from Maastrecht (sp?) and
Palmerston North and where ever it is that that sweet bloke called Derek
hangs out.

Robert.



From mfoster@tyrell.netThu Sep  7 22:41:58 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 19:20:18 -0500 (EDT)
From: "Mark A. Foster" 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: All-Male Guardianship 

To: talisman@indiana.edu

Talismanians -
    
    Just a question (speculatory, of course): Had the line of Guardians 
continued, would we see here the same concern over the head of the Faith 
being male? IOW (in other words), would a case be made, considering 
'Abdu'l-Baha's Will and other relevant documents, for why we could have 
a female Guardian, and how an all-male Guardianship is contrary to the 
principle of the unity of the sexes? 
    
    Greetings,
    
      Mark
          


From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comThu Sep  7 22:43:28 1995
Date: Thu, 07 Sep 95 18:59:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: The Guardian's letter to David Hoffman

[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]

Brother Sen wrote:

> Ahang referred to: "a letter from the beloved Guardian to 
> David Hoffman (quoted by Mr. Hoffman in his paper published
> in "The Vision of Shoghi Effendi") that the word "mubayyin"
> (from "tab`yin") should be translated and understood as
> "Interpreter" which is the function of the Master and his (ie.
> Shoghi Effendi's) function is that of Exposition, "Tashrih"
> ("shari`" = Expounder)."

> However I've checked Mr. Hoffman's essay in The Vision of
> Shoghi Effendi, and can't find this reference there. Perhaps I
> missed it, or perhaps our beloved Ahang was functioning with
> coffee up to his eyeballs at the time :-). In your absence, 
> Ahang, someone else made the same distinction and it was 
> discussed. I'd like to hear your comments. 

Well, Sen, I think you're right, I must of been drinking ... 
coffee, that is, ... because I gave the wrong reference.  I stand 
busted.

Let me this time quote from the *correct* reference.

The following is an extract from Mr. David Hoffman's paper, 
"Shoghi Effendi:  Expounder of the Word of God", presented at the 
9th Annual Conference of Association for Baha'i Studies 
(actually, read by his daughter):

Hoffman wrote:

"We may dwell for a moment on the difference between 
interpretation and exposition.  I am able to share with you the 
following extract from a letter received from the beloved 
Guardian himself, commenting on this very point.  It is dated 
December 18th, 1937:

      'The Master should be referred to as "Interpreter" of the 
      Word and not "Expounder", the former being much more 
      precise, and more faithful to the original Persian word 
      used by Baha'u'llah.'

"We may conclude from this, bearing in mind that the station and 
powers of `Abdu'l-Baha, that the Interpreter has authority to 
declare both the inner and outer meaning of the Sacred Text, to 
add to it, His Word being part of the Revelation itself, and 
unchangeable.

"The Expounder does not add to the Revelation although his 
exposition and interpretation have the same validity as the text 
itself.  It is clearly recognized that Shoghi Effendi made no 
changes and added nothing new to the Revelation.  He disclosed to 
our astonished eyes and expounded what had already been 
enshrined in the Writings by the three Central Figures of our 
Faith."


Ahang speaking again:  As you asked for my view, I tend to fully 
agree with David Hoffman on this issue (and as a side point out 
that his paper was first reviewed by the House before it was 
presented at the Conf. -- however that is not to suggest that the 
views in the paper are necessarily those of the House).

There are numerous examples where Abdu'l-Baha added to the 
Revelation.  He was authorized to do so.  He was even authorized 
to reverse Baha'u'llah, which He did again on a number of 
instances through His Interpretation.  

This is a unique aspect of His Office.  As much as it deeply 
wounds me, I must disagree with my learned brother, Frank, in his 
analogy of Abdu'l-Baha using Imam Ali.  Abdu'l-Baha and His 
Holiness Ali have a lot in common -- but the Office which 
Abdu'l-Baha occupied and His station are in many ways different 
from Imam Ali's.  One such difference is the fact that 
Abdu'l-Baha, was the authorized Interpreter and Ali wasn't.  
Another, is that Abdu'l-Baha changed the Revelation (and 
Baha'u'llah wanted Him to do so) and Ali stuck very closely to 
the Text.  (For that matter, Ali didn't even worry or fight that 
hard for the Text since when he was presented with the compiled 
Qur'an, he destroyed his own copy which apparently differed 
markedly with the Uthman's version.  Can you picture Abdu'l-Baha 
doing this????)

At any rate, I think all such comparisons between our Principle 
Luminaries (a term coined by Mr. Nakhjavani to refer to the 
Central Figures and Shoghi Effendi) are hopelessly invalid.  This 
Dispensation stands supreme over all the previous Dispensations 
and as such all the Principle Luminaries occupy a unique stations 
never before experienced.

May be I should stick with decaf tea ...

with much love, ahang.

From robert.johnston@stonebow.otago.ac.nzThu Sep  7 22:45:03 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 13:13:41 +1200
From: Robert Johnston 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: lack of grace...

So:

The postmodernist Derrida reckoned that the most important thing was style
and as I translate what this means into my own psyche I say that the most
important thing is grace.  What I find most offensive of lack of grace.  I
am always stunned when I come across it, because I just don't expect it.
It manifests itself in failure to give credit where credit is due and a
kind of weird perversity towards authority.   Failure to credit where
credit is due is fundamentally oedipal... the siblings fighting for the
good favours of the parent.  Perversity towards authority is also oedipal
... the siblings wishing to usurp the authority of the parent.  There is no
limit to the ways in which these may operate, and when they become
co-conspirators, as they do sometimes  on Talisman, their effects are
particularly devastating.  Here the formula goes something like this: (1)
problematise the Writings, (11) discourage the finding of straightforward
solutions with letters written in the language of reasonableness but potent
of heartfelt viciousness, (111) whinge when this viciousness becomes
obvious and the standards of the Faith are upheld, (1V) invoke the list
rules as a censoring mechanism.

Such is the way of those who lack grace.  Fortunately, the graceless are few.

Robert.



From M.C.Day@massey.ac.nzThu Sep  7 22:45:22 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 13:49:15 GMT=1200
From: Mary Day 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: A woman's place

Dear Talismans,

I wish to make it perfectly clear to all members of Talisman that I 
live in Palmerston North and I have not and never intend to express 
an opinion about whether the present position regarding the 
membership of the House will or will not change. I have made some 
very tentative suggestions as to the wisdom of this situation and 
that is all.

I take strong exception to anybody attributing any other views to 
me.

Mary

From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comThu Sep  7 22:45:55 1995
Date: Thu, 07 Sep 95 20:32:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: interpreter/expounder

[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]

Dear Sen,

One last thought which I forgot to include with the earlier 
posting....

Initially it seems that we are faced with some kind of dilemma:  
Shoghi Effendi in his 1937 letter to David Hoffman seems to 
emphasis the difference between Interpretation and Exposition and 
then goes right ahead and uses that term (interpretation) for 
himself.  But perhaps a way out is what Rob Stockman proposed 
some months ago, that is, when the Guardian refers to himself as 
the interpreter, he is using small "i" and reserves capital "I" 
for Abdu'l-Baha.  In reading the quotations which you posted, I 
know this doesn't hold 100%, but perhaps the publishers were 
editing his writings and capitalized where they weren't suppose 
to (just like adding all those titles and subtitles to his 
letters ...).  The only way to find out for sure is to see Shoghi 
Effendi's original manuscript and see how he has capitalize 
things.  Experience has shown that on such matters of details, 
English published Texts can't be trusted 100%.

Incidentally, in light of 1937 letter of Shoghi Effendi, I think 
you're are right and the passage of the Will and Testament should 
be kept the way Shoghi Effendi had it back in 1922 and the 
revised version should be reverted back.  But I'm sure the 
Research Dept had a pretty good reason for authorizing the 
change...  It might be well worth asking ...

regards, ahang.

From robert.johnston@stonebow.otago.ac.nzFri Sep  8 10:43:55 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 16:16:31 +1200
From: Robert Johnston 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: A Woman's Place is on the House

Dear Mary,
        Re:

>
>I feel certain that this viewpoint will get up someone's nose.

My point is this: there are some people who, if I said, "The sky is blue,"
would say "No, it is the colour of a starling's egg."  To almost everyone
else they would be the most agreeable person in the world.  I am born in
the year of the Ox, and you waved a red flag before my eyes...  Please do
not overlook the possibility that my fundamental inclinations are not
hostile.  Just wary.
I was not suggesting that you are infirm in the covenant.

Robert.





From Alethinos@aol.comFri Sep  8 10:58:09 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 01:16:35 -0400
From: Alethinos@aol.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Interpretation and S. Destiny

In a message dated 95-09-07 16:03:44 EDT, you write:

>Jim H.    I would  love to discuss the Spiritual Destiny issue . For it
>ti have any expanatory power for me -- and I think others among the rank and
>file -- it will need to come down from the level of grand theory and address
>specific issues .  Where we may disagree is in our reading of American
>history . I would argue that the Bahai Community is an heir to a long
>reformist tradition stretching back to the Puritans , the Jeffersonian
>democrats , the womens suffregists, abolitionists, the agrarian populists
and
>peoples party(among my personal favorites with their call for a cooperative
>commonwealth), Debsian socialists , Catholic worker movement, M.L. king and
>the southern civil rights movement among others .


>> If we plan to "wake up" America we are going to have to find themes that
are
understandable and build on those existing traditions. Presenting ourselves
as an "alien" religion here to save a nation and culture that "sucks" or is
old order is not going to get us very far. It sure has not to date.  It also
has the effect of cuttinf Baha'i's off from thosze sources within their own
background which are identity forming and therefore are capable of sustaining
a sense of mission . I think it would be helpful in this regard if we took a
good look at wht M. L. King and the SCLC did in building on the culture of
the AmericanSouth as well as the rural Black church  and fashioned a movement
that was successful . ( It problems later occurred in attempting to
transplant that to a northern urban setting )<<<


Dear Terry:

   If by all this you mean that we should tap into the latent energy of
*unrest* and *revolution* existing in Americans - well than yes I would agree
with you. The Guardian must have seen this too - this being a country more
malleable than most - so in one sense easier to stir up - and yet at the
other end - the least likely to rise against its very materialisitic
foundation.

But I would most def. disagree with your chronology. We as Baha'is did not
*inherit* these movements; nor are we some odd continuation of them. If they
exist, they exist through the Hand of God to begin with - but we should not
suggest that somehow we are an *extention* of them. We may call upon some of
the concepts and spirit they themselves engendered - but the Faith is unique,
as we have been told, repeatedly, in Its message and design.

But hey, let's talk . . .

jim harrison

Alethinos@aol.com

From burlb@bmi.netFri Sep  8 10:59:57 1995
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 95 22:29 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
To: David Langness <72110.2126@compuserve.com>
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: A Woman's Place is on the House

David (if i were king) Langness wrote:
>Kudos to Burl for being the first on Talisman to mention Studebakers,
>a heavy academic interest of mine since I'm in the midst of building one
>in my garage...

   I had a 1963 Gran Turismo Hawk, White with Red interior.  I had wanted
one since 1963, and getting one was not a manifestation of materialism, but
rather the manifestation of that wonderful attribute of God called "Dominion."  
    "The  Supreme Body" was, in most people's opinion, the "lowboy". Those
unfamiliar with Studebakers will not get this,but that's ok.   The
"grassroots" excuse you mentioned is not what I had in mind -- that is still
the old ladder paradigm
and, like most old paradigms, is worth about 20 cents.

I think there is an important point that needs to be restated in a way
better than I can say it, 'cause the way I say it is like this:  The Baha'i
Faith is a transformative religion. That does *not* mean that the Faith  or
its Covenant transforms to fit the mood, expectations, desires, or
proclivities of those who would join it. It does mean that those who would
join it are transformed by submission to the Will of God  as revealed in the
Text of that which has the same authority as "the Text itself."  Baha'u'llah
is the Messenger.  The Message is not silly putty provided for the purpose
of us permanently coloring it with today's temporary headlines -- the BIG
ISSUE and challange for Baha'is used to be things such as not being able to
be a Freemason and a Baha'i at the same time or not using Feast as the place
for self-employed vacume cleaner sales agents to demonstrate their products.
(yes, someone withdrew over that "If I can't sell vacume cleaners at Feast,
well I quit!)

As the Lobster said to the Crab: "It all boils down to this" Either
Baha'u'llah is or He ain't  .If he ain't, it don't matter.
If He is, in Him let the trusting trust.   This bit about "giving her hope"
stikes me as ultimately bogus -- it is an adversarial relationship between
her and the Source of All Good -- her "hope" being that the Source of All
Good, Freed from all Error will finally see her position as more "advanced"
or "correct" .  This seems an unhealthy way for believers to regard that in
which they believe.  

 The only thing that kept me from declaring sooner than I did was my
enthusiastic participation in substance boosted inter-dimensional
half-astral travel. My concern was never women in the House, but Narcs in
the motel. :-)

Burl  

-------------------------
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 01:44:43 -0400
To: jrcole@umich.edu
Subject: Personal

Good luck!    
   I am, by the way, in utter despair over Talisman.  We have been invaded
and almost destroyed by idiots, with Robt Johnson leading the pack of wolves.
 I can hardly stand it, and I am so mad that I better not say anything for a
while. 

-----------------------------

From ahmada@acsusun.acsu.unsw.edu.auFri Sep  8 11:11:33 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 16:03:21 +1000
From: Ahmad Aniss 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: A reply "possibility of women on UHJ"

Dear Talismanians,
Dear Juan,

In your previous posting you said the following statement, which to me
implies that you beleive puting things into prespective and as you
said, puting it into historical context and changes over time must form
part of the analysis.

>Please note:  the approach to interpretation or hermeneutics I am 
>employing here assumes that traditional knowledge is suspect; that 
>specific texts must be adduced to support specific propositions; that the 
>whole corpus of concerned texts must be weighed against one another; and 
>that historical context and change over time must form part of the analysis.
>I agree with Gadamer that this approach cannot produce absolutely 
>objective knowledge, and that it is a tradition in its own right (a 
>language game if you will).  But it is for me a fruitful tradition, and 
>this is the game I am playing.

Then you come up with this statement which realy make me confused of
your motives:

>As for the argument that Baha'u'llah said so, and we must simply accept 
>what He said, I have gone blue in the face trying to demonstrate that He 
>said no such thing; and that even though `Abdu'l-Baha at first thought He 
>did, even he changed his mind later on.
>	The fact is that the Universal House of Justice is the power 
>center of the Baha'i Faith.  It makes policy, it legislates, it decides 
>cases.  It is an executive, a legislature and a judiciary rolled into 
>one.  And given the centralization of the Baha'i bureaucracy its 
>statements in all three spheres have enormous and immediate impact on all 
>Baha'i institutions and believers.


With all those quotations that gone through Talisman the last two weeks,
and specially the following statement by The UHJ in regard to the article
`women's service', and in addition considering the stations of Abdu'l-Baha
and The Guardian in our Faith, I must say that I do not see how can you say
we must wait for a change and not a wisdom in regard to the statement of
Abdu'l-Baha. I hope this is not a women that after reaching to the highest
ranks (as Abdu`l-Baha sayes it is acheivable by women in this Faith), then 
thinks that by persuing such a line of argument and `game as you put it`,
she would be able to bring about a change.

	"As mentioned earlier, the law regarding the membership of the
	Universal House of Justice is embedded in the Text and has
	been merely restated by the divinely appointed interpreters. It
	is therefore neither amenable to change nor subject to
	speculation about some possible future condition."


>				  To exclude women permanently from 
>this body is to endow them with less power in the Baha'i community than 
>men.

How did you come up with this conculssion.

>  As for those who maintain that the Universal House of Justice is 
>unaffected by the gender or culture of its members, this is patently 
>untrue.  In a number of important decisions, its personnel clearly have 
>led it to see things one way and not another.  A House full of Western 
>university professors in the humanities would never have dreamed of 
>ordering a primary source such as Salmani's memoirs of Baha'u'llah to 
>be bowdlerized in English translation.


Perhaps the views of the UHJ will be in a men's prespective but, as
the writings state we must still abide by them and not question them, as
they will be guided by God and His Manifestation always and as such their
delibrations will be guided.


>  With regard to the possibility of women on the House, it seems to me 
>that no one has answered Bill Garlington's challenging analogy.  
>Discrimination on the basis of sex is no different than discrimination on 
>the basis of race.  Saying women cannot serve on the House is morally 
>equivalent to saying that, e.g., blacks cannot serve on the House.  None 
>of us (I hope) would put up with the latter position.  Why is the former 
>any different?  Are women less human than blacks?  Do they have fewer rights?


As I have said it before functions of individuals do not make them
superior or inferior in any way.  There is no discrimination envolved.
It is a function that they are performing.  If women are able to give Life
and men not doesn't that make men inferior to women in accordance to
your argument.  Comparing race with function of sexes is like the argument
that oranges and apples are fruits and hence they must be considered equal
and alike. Hence the answer is NO! women are not less human than blacks.
they have no more rights than men have.  In this instance based on form
of Creation the men are performing a function and have no superiority over
the female counterpart.


>	Moreover, if we look at the contemporary world, women have been 
>accepted in leadership positions in most countries; there have been 
>European women prime ministers, South Asian women prime ministers, Latin 
>American women prime ministers, etc.

Being in a position of leadership is not the same as being infallibile and
guided at all times via an interaction with the Manifestation of God
through the Spiritual World.  

				  Among the two most backward areas 
>with regard to women's rights, however, are the Arab world and Iran.  
>Some sort of combination of Islam and cultural values has kept women 
>solidly out of leadership in both cultural spheres.  The idea of a woman 
>leader in Iran, Egypt or Saudi Arabia is a joke, pure and simple.  
>(Women's literacy and numbers in the workforce in both are also low in 
>world terms; women typically have little status in the public sphere; the 
>Qur'an authorizes smacking one's wife when she gets out of hand; and 
>gender segregation often excludes women from professioanal and business 
>education and work opportunities).  But all this is not only a matter of 
>Islam; Benazir Bhutto is prime minister of the Islamic Republic of 
>Pakistan (as my wife reminds me when she wishes to demonstrate how 
>backward Americans are).


I could not put it better.  Yes! this is the precise reason that the
advent of Baha'u'llah occured in Iran.  The advent of a Manifestion of
God always occur in the most bleak of all places as Baha'u'llah Himself
has stated this.  I think you say the same thing in the next paragraph.


>	Now, the Baha'i Faith was born precisely in this area of Iran and 
>the Arab world; and it managed (gradually) to overcome a great deal of the 
>cultural baggage it inherited from those cultures.  But it is suspicious to 
>me that it excludes women from the top leadership, just in precisely the 
>same way they are excluded from being head of state or prime minister in 
>Iran, Syria and Egypt.	


It is suspicious to you because you have not been able to put all
the writings on this regard into their prespective position (I think), not
because they are not.  As you say these must contradict each other
(i.e. equality in one direction and exclusion in another), then we
must look for reasons and wisdoms and not rather try to force a change. 
 

>	Saying we believe in the equality of women and men and yet 
>keeping them off the most powerful institution in our religion is bound 
>to be seen by the outside world as both hypocritical and sexist.  But it 
>is also contradictory to Baha'i values themselves.


Our function must be to try to convince other of the station of Baha'u'llah
and not correctness of His laws.  If individuals recognise his station every
thing else will fit into its place.  NO! it is not contradictory to Baha'i values.


>	I hear voices saying that no change is possible, things are set 
>in stone.  Yet the promise of the Baha'i Faith was precisely of a 
>flexible religion, able to change with the times, having as little 
>immutable law as possible (Baha'u'llah, Ishraq 8).


Flexibility yes, but not to an extend that it is a detriment to the laws
that are embedded (see the above quote) in the writings of our Faith.

 
>						  We are children of 
>the half-light, we do not yet see what the Faith may become.  We think we 
>are pre-Vatican II Roman Catholics, or we think we are Shi`ites with 
>infallible Imams and an Exemplar who must be imitated, because those are the 
>only models we know for a universal religion with an infallible head.  But 
>however appropriate they might have been to an earlier time, they are 
>wretched models for the third Millennium C.E.  We need not banish reason; 
>we can do better.


Who is trying to comapre this Dispensation`s structure with that of the
passed structures.  Ours is unique and has bases within our writings.
To compare them is a mistake.

So, I think you must go over the writings with a neutral view. Remove all
inclinations from your heart (if there is any) and then after putting them
into proper prespective, then look to see if your decissions stay the same.
I hope Juan will not take this personally.

With Baha'i Love and Fellowship,
Ahmad.

 _______________________________________________________________________
^									^
^ Dr. A.M. Aniss,			_________________________^









From robert.johnston@stonebow.otago.ac.nzFri Sep  8 11:14:48 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 22:46:09 +1200
From: Robert Johnston 
To: Alison & Steve Marshall , talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Getting up noses

Dear Steve,
>
>You get up my nose too, Robert,

Thank you for the admission Steve.  I am very pleased to drag it all from
the wood work.  Then there is no pretense.  I am perpetually open to
reconciliation, but in the meantime please un-subscribe me from your list.

Robert.



From snoopy@skipper.physics.sunysb.eduFri Sep  8 11:20:39 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 10:18:56 -0400 (EDT)
From: Stephen Johnson 
To: Juan R Cole 
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: interpretation

On Thu, 7 Sep 1995, Juan R Cole wrote:

>   With regard to the possibility of women on the House, it seems to me 
> that no one has answered Bill Garlington's challenging analogy.  
> Discrimination on the basis of sex is no different than discrimination on 
> the basis of race.  Saying women cannot serve on the House is morally 
> equivalent to saying that, e.g., blacks cannot serve on the House.  

Juan,

I'm afraid that I must disagree with you on this analysis.  Baha'u'llah, 
`Abdu'l-Baha,the Guardian and now the Universal House of Justice have all 
explained that all of the races and peoples of humanity are the same.  
They are treated the same, they hold the same power, they have the same 
right, they ...etc.  However, men and women are *not* the same.

	By My Life!  The names of handmaidens who are devoted to God are 
	written and set down by the Pen of the Most High in the Crimson Book.  
	They excel over men in the sight of God.  How numerous are the 
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
	heroes and knights in the field who are bereft of the True One and 
	have no share in His recognition, but thou hast attained and received 
	thy fill.

						-Baha'u'llah (CoC #2095)

Women are to be educated first, they are to be the ones to bear children 
and partake of the bounties of motherhood, they are the ones who 
naturally will possess kind-heartedness (a Divine Attribute).  And yet we 
sit and argue that women are not getting an equal chance in the sight of 
God while in the future, when men look with the eye of Divine Wisdom, 
they will instead see the true inner bounty of womanhood.

I hate to be so cliche but we must continually remember that men and women 
are equal in their spiritual station, not in their function on this very 
brief physical plane.  This position of Universal House of Justice does 
not guarantee a crown in the next life, nor does it confer upon these 
individuals any special privledge except when they collectively make a 
decision.  Further, their position as men will not in any way weaken the 
position of women in Baha'u'llah's Divine Order since the Universal House 
of Justice has as one of its main precepts the equality of men with women.

	In this day no regard is paid to loftiness, or lowliness, to 
	poverty or wealth, to nobility and lineage, to weakness or might.  
	Whosoever recognizeth the incomparable Beloved is the possessor of 
	true wealth and occupieth a divine station.  Today, in the court of 
	the True One, the queen of the world and her like are not worth a 
	mustard seed, because although she may speak in the name of God, 
	invoke the Lord of creation every day in the temple of her body, and 
	spend large sums of earthly wealth for the development of her nation, 
	she is deprived of recognition of the Sun of His Manifestation and is 
	barred from the True One in Whose remembrance she is engaged...

						Baha'u'llah (CoC p.#2097)

The Universal House of Justice has explained that this precept of no 
women on the Universal House of Justice is true and binding.  According 
to the Writings their command, after all nine of them have consulted, is 
inspired by God.  This is the Command of God and to follow is to follow 
Baha'u'llah -- to not follow is to not follow Baha'u'llah.  We must begin 
to understand that although men and women are equal in spiritual station, 
they are not equal in function.  Please believe in `Abdu'l-Baha that one 
day its reason will become as manifest as the noon day sun.

God bless my dear friend,

stephen johnson

From snoopy@skipper.physics.sunysb.eduFri Sep  8 12:08:29 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 11:39:17 -0400 (EDT)
From: Stephen Johnson 
To: Juan R Cole 
Subject: Re: interpretation

Juan,

Perhaps we are completely miscommunicating here...(email can be so 
limiting!).  You said:

> None of the women I know would sit still for it for a minute! 

All of the Baha'i women I have spoken with (quite a few) 
have no disagreement concerning women on the Universal House of Justice.  
Since I'm not sure if there is some major difference between all of the
the women in our respective communities let's try to figure out what the 
difference is.

Is your major arguement against the idea of having spiritually equal 
people who serve in different capacities?  Why doesn't this fit with 
society?  I really don't see the direct relation you draw between this 
topic and that of the Jim Crow laws -- could you elaborate some more?
I'm not talk 'separate but equal'.  Hopefully we can all solve this 
dilemma between us.

Please help me understand what you mean...and thanks for all your input.  
I always enjoy your postings...(even if they ruffle my feathers :-)  )

Good day,

stephen johnson

From jrcole@umich.eduFri Sep  8 12:09:18 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 11:41:31 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: women and men the same



`Abdu'l-Baha, "Talk to Federation of Women's Clubs, Hotel LaSalle, 
Chicago Illinois, 2 May 1912";  Promulgation of Universal Peace,
pp. 75-76:


"What, then, constitutes the inequality between man and woman?  Both are 
human.  In powers and function each is the complement of the other.  AT 
most it is this: that woman has been denied the opportunities which man 
has so long enjoyed, especially the privilege of education.  But even 
this is not always a shortcoming.  Shall we consider it an imperfection 
and weakness in her nature that she is not proficient in the shcool of 
military tactics . . . ? . . . Yet be it known that if woman had been 
taught and trained in the military science of slaughter, she would have 
been the equivalent of man even in this accomplishment . . .  When we 
consider the kingdoms of existence below man, we find no distinction or 
estimate of superiority and inferiority between male and female.  Among 
the myriad organisms of the vegetable and animal kingdoms sex exists, but 
there is no differentiation whatever as to relative importance and value 
in the equation of life.  If we investigate impartially, we may even find 
species in which the female is superior or preferable to the male . . .
the male of the animal kingdom does not glory in its being male and 
superior to the female . . ."



I take away from these passages that 1) gender hierarchies are not 
considered by `Abdu'l-Baha to be natural or properly based upon 
biological premises; and 2) women are thought by him to have a more 
pacific character owing primarily to their socialization by society, not 
because they are incapable of e.g. warfare.  He also appears to believe 
that society benefits from not socializing women to warfare and wishes to 
keep it that way.  In neither case does he suggest that there is anything 
"natural" or biological about the difference in orientation toward war.

I do not find in this passage support for those who argue that women have 
"natural"  "functions" that are a priori different from men; `Abdu'l-Baha 
appears to recognize gender roles as socially constructed (and in 1912 to 
have been badly socially constructed, as well).  Remember that at the 
time he is speaking women did not have the vote in the United States, and 
were sorely oppressed in the Middle East.


cheers   Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan

From Alethinos@aol.comFri Sep  8 15:39:34 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 12:24:43 -0400
From: Alethinos@aol.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Changing the course of a Nation



Terry had written that we need to be practical in our approach to moving
America toward its spiritual destiny. I couldn't agree more. American's in
general are about as far away from the intellectual forum of Plato and
Socrates as is possible without falling off . . .

And I do agree that we need to tap into those visionary elements in American
history. This is why we had begun, several years ago, to distinguish those
elements within American culture, but more importantly in the philosophical
foundation upon which this country rests, that need to be attacked - by
bringing the light of Reality to bear on these dark areas. 

We must be able to demonstrate, to explain that it is _not_ America that is
*evil* or wrong. It is a series of foundational beliefs - ideas - that are
the cause of so much pain and spiritual (as well as physical) destruction. It
is, in most respects the same process (except on a mass scale) that we go
through in our relationships with people newly come to the Faith. Helping
them rid themselves of shortcomings while at the same time giving them a new
understanding that to feel *guilty* about them - to take the Mea Culpa
approach is counter-productive to spiritual growth - since it simply
reaffirms, usually subconsciously that *I* am essentially flawed to the core.

We have to seperate the people from the concepts, and help them recognize the
wonderful elements of what it is to be an American and that in ridding
ourselves of these faulty concepts is not to be ridding ourselves of what it
is to be American.


gotta go . . . 

jim harrison

Alethinos@aol.com

From TLCULHANE@aol.comFri Sep  8 16:20:51 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 12:53:58 -0400
From: TLCULHANE@aol.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: America 

  
     Dear Jim and all , 
 
       I do mean we should tap into the latent energy of these movements . In
the same sense that Sen has referred to the "Enlightenment " as a proto Bahai
movement I believe there are a number of movements in the North American
continent which fall in the same category . 
    
     By "heirs " I mean  we are the legitimate successors or fulfillment of
the hopes and dreams expessed in the movements I mentioned .  No I dont think
we are a simple linear extension of them, but then I dont accept the simple
linear understanding of the idea of 
  " progress " either . 

     I believe we get ourselves into trouble when we stress the "uniqueness"
of the Faith . Perhaps I should say when we stress that reality to the
exclusion of our continuity with the deepest and profoundest threads of
American spiritual history . This means of course that i view the womens
suffrege movement as a spiritual event and not simply a political one . It is
that recognition that constitutes our "redemptive" continuity with the
aforementioned movement .  Each of these movements was also unique in its own
way  , in their message and their design .  yet they called on biblical and
republican themes that were already exixting in America . Perhaps the best
example of how to do this is Abdu'l Baha himself . It is this example that
influences me . He wove the message of Baha'u'llah in such a way as to be
recognizable to Americans and appealed to the best of that tradition  and
then found ways to demonstrate how the Faith of Baha'u'llah satisfied the
deepest longings of all groups  and causes . 

  The historical origin of the European immagration to America was not in
some materialist utopia . The Putitans came here believing they were going to
establish  a rightous "city on a hill " to use John Winthrops phrase .  There
was a notion of Covenant involved in this.  There understanding  was
exculsionary to say the least . However to equate the errors or limitations
with materialism as a foundation of America i do not think will get us
anywhere . I most decidedly do not see materialism as the foundation of
America . We assume that materialism is a bad thing. if i approach someone
and suggest that the "foundation" of your existence and lived historical
experience is materialist and this is a bad thing  I have in advance created
a condition in which two things happen : 1) I create a distance between
myself and that person that  breeds non receptivity to my message  2)  I have
dismissed that person as the "other ' . Neither case seems to me the example
Abdu'l Baha presented in His many talks in North America .

    The materialism we both deplore has , in its current version , a history
. Any critique of that materialism will have to be a critique of both its
current manifestation and understanding of its history and presenting an
alternative vision ehich entails an " interpretive framework" that draws on
and is understandable to the intended audience .  The current domination of
materialism expresses itself institutionally in corporate capitalism and the
claim that contractual market relations are normative for all human
relationships. This paricular view was quite consciously promoted by Mark
Hanna and his republican and Corporate companions in the 1890's. It was a
powerful and concetec response to the rise of a biblical - republican
movement in the South and Great Plains which began in the late 1870's and by
the early 90's had over two million organized followers . What these agrarian
populists lacked was the organizational structure and spiritual sustenance
 of the Faith of Baha'u'lah. They did not lack a critique of materialism  and
its domination economically and politically by powerful corporate intersests
bent on reducing humans to market forces and thereby undermining the
spiritual dignity of human beings .  
   If I declare that the foundation of America is simply materialist and
therefore "evil" how is this going to confirm my hearer in the value of their
experience and redeem its limitations .    I have watched this approach for
my 24 years as a Baha'i  and have not found it to be particularly successful
. People resist having their lives dismised away in that fashion . And we are
talking about real human beings .  I am interested in building bridges that
people can walk across into the promised land of the Bahai World
Commonwealth. In so doing my critique of materialism dose not assume that the
heart of America is materialist . It assumes that the heart of America has
profound spiritual yearnings and experience which need re-awakening and a
local community based network which extends around the planet and has
spiritual authority and material power to use the Guardians reference to the
institutions . 

    My belief in the redemption of the American project includes learning
from the experience of others .  The genius , at least in part, of Martin
Luther King was in tapping into the religiousity of Southern Black experience
and affirming the best of the South that was shared by  the non-black peoples
who lived there .  We should pay attention  King did what Abdu'l Baha did ,
he drew on the lived experience of people , their hopes and sufferings and
infused it with religious meaning . I am not suggesting our "methods can or
shouls be the same . I am suggesting we can learn from the interpretive
framework used by King and others . 

  The Agrarian populists understood thier project to be creating a
"Cooperative Commonwaelth " .. This Commonwaelth did not have anything to do
with the consumer utopia passed off as the purpose of life and which is
embedded in structures of corporate capitalism . They also were mosr
assuredly not socialists .( It strikes me as an example of our impoverisehed
sense of possibilities that critique of corporate capitalism assumes the only
alternative is some form of bureaucratic socialism .) The populists had a
"producer" ideology not a consumer one . They understood work to be worship
and saw in the "wage slavery" of the factory system a development profoundly
destructive to the human spirit . they also were decidedly non-partisan in
their approach to politics,  until the powers that be started to take the
threat they presented seriously.  It would do us good to read some of what
these folks had to say before we assume too much Bahai uniqueness . I would
recomment perusing Charles McCune's work on the "suntreasury plan as well as
Harrry Tracy and Henry Loucks ( a South Dakota native like myself)  on
Cooperative Commonwealths, L. L. Polk on the dignity of labor and
craftsmanship . The list goes on . We might find Abdu 'l Baha's remarks on
the village storehouse  echoed in some of their work and strangely enough
fleshed out in greater detail . Somethinh the World Center could consider in
its promotion of social -economic development. 

   I will colse this overly ong piece with a favorite from a Kansas farmer in
the !880's . I am sure you will find appropriate Baha'i echoes .
    " There never was, nor can there be, a more brutal , utterly selfish ,
and despicable doctrine than the Darwinian struggle for existence when
applied to the social relations of man ."

   warm regards ,
      Terry

From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comFri Sep  8 16:24:24 1995
Date: Fri, 08 Sep 95 11:45:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: The Station of Quddus

[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]

Dear Ahmad:

On Sept 7th, you wrote:

> Dear Ahang,

> A friend of mine mentioned that you have done extensive 
> research on Quddus. I have the following inquiry to make;

> A friend of mine would like to fine a reference regarding 
> station of Quddus. He likes to fine a reference in the writings 
> that say if The Bab had not declared, Quddus would have 
> declared so to speak, Not that he would have, but showing his 
> station.  This could be from Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha, or The 
> Guardian. So if you know about this reference please send it to 
> me.

> Thank you,
> Looking forward to your reply,
> Ahmad.

Hope all is well with you, Ahmad.  I hope you don't mind if I put 
your query and my reply on Talisman because there are a number 
folks here that are far more knowledgeable about this sort of 
things than I can ever hope to be, and they may decide to share 
some insights with us.

As to the question of whether such a Tablet exists which says to 
the effect:  If the Bab had not declared, then Quddus would have.  
This questions was put to Dr. Muhammad Afnan and his brief reply 
is in one of the early issues of `Andalib.  He says, no such 
Tablet exists.  Technically, he is right.

I myself have checked all the published Tablets and many 
unpublished manuscripts in search for this alleged Tablet to no 
vain.  I have also carefully quizzed folks like Abu'l-Qasim 
Afnan, Hasan Afnan, Riaz Ghadimi, Nustratu'llah Muhammad-Husayni, 
etc., and none of them have ever seen this Tablet. 

So, where does this rumor come from that such a Tablet exists?  
Is is a baseless rumor?  If so, then why is it that every Persian 
Baha'i over the age of 35 swore that he/she had heard about this 
Tablet?

To make a long story short, I've traced the rumor to the Hand of 
the Cause of God, Fadil-i Mazandarani.  Independent of each 
other, a number of his students have told me that Hadrat-i Fadil 
used to read a Tablet from Baha'u'llah to this effect.  
Unfortunately, none of these students (all in advanced ages now) 
can remember any more details.  

So, did a Tablet exists?

Well, Fadil was perhaps the best and ablest researcher that Iran 
has produced (perhaps the Faith of Baha'u'llah has ever produced, 
but that's just my view ...).  He was extremely meticulous with 
his sources and valued greatly publishing Tablets and original 
documents -- unlike many other Persian scholars, Fadil understood 
the importance of publishing primary documents.  This Tablet, 
assuming that it ever existed, unfortunately, is not among the 
papers and documents that he left.  But it should be pointed out, 
that during the last years of his life, he was pretty unpleased 
with the Administration in Iran (he even didn't tell Mr. Furutan 
or anyone else that he, that is, Fadil, was elevated to the rank 
of the Hand of the Cause much earlier than Furutan ... but I 
don't want to get into the politics of Persian NSA, etc.).  He 
did not leave his papers and massive original documents that he 
had spent a tireless lifetime collecting, to the Faith.  Instead 
he left them to one of his non-Baha'i sons.  His Baha'i son lives 
right here in Houston and I've nurturing a relationship with him 
in hope of eventually finding access to these materials -- we'll 
if its the will of God.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that presently no such 
Tablet is in the possession of the Faith -- after all, only half 
of Baha'u'llah's Tablets are in our possession.  But the are 
plenty of recollections that Fadil had a similar Tablet and 
frequently shared it with his class.

I should point that all the credit in understanding the 
importance of the Quddus' station must go to Fadil.  He was 
perhaps the first person that recognized the sublime station that 
Quddus occupies in this Dispensation.  (Of course, the fact that 
Quddus was from the same region, Gilan (Babul) that Fadil himself 
was from, did fuel his interest, too.)  In may ways, Fadil paved 
the way for our current understanding of the unique position that 
Quddus occupies.  Indeed, together with Baha'u'llah and the Bab, 
He has the station of Manifestationhood ("mazhariyyat") as 
testified by Baha'u'llah Himself.  That is, although, He was not 
authorized to inaugurate a new Theophony, He ranks as a 
Manifestation of God.  Interesting enough, both Qur'an and 
Quddus' own Writings state exactly the same claim about Him too.

Now, initially this sounds strange.  How is it possible for Him 
to have such an exalted station?

Well, stay toned, I'll try to deal with that question in the next 
posting.

Interesting stuff, don't you think??

With much love, ahang.

From derekmc@ix.netcom.comFri Sep  8 18:47:10 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 11:13:19 -0700
From: DEREK COCKSHUT 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Fwd: RE: Ahmad's theory,Dickie's theory and now The Kepare theory.

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From: Rick Schaut 
To: owner-talisman@indiana.edu, talisman@indiana.edu
Date: Fri,  8 Sep 95 09:33:14 PDT
Subject: RE: Ahmad's theory,Dickie's theory and now The Kepare theory.
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>From: DEREK COCKSHUT   
>One of  my wife's theories < she has several > and the Kepare
>Hairdressers is that Men's only use is to get heavy items down from
>high shelves and take out the Trash.

I'm sorry, but I must take umbrage with this...

I happen to be very good at scrubbing floors of all kinds.


Warmest Regards,
Rick

PS The other day, my wife was doing the dishes.  My daughter
exclaimed, "Mommy can do dishes just like daddy does!"

 My dear Rick.
My wife says that takes long hours of training to get a man trained to 
scrub floors properly for example with soap and water, or suitable 
cleaning material, of course the major area of non-srubbing is behind 
the ears.Your dear wife clearly is a saint to have 
continued your education in this area, by the way which of the various 
educational methods did she employ, naturally I will not be sharing 
that sort of Knowledge with my wife.By the way Burl's wife when he is 
sending messages to Talisman, thinks he is busy writing his next book, 
dont worry Burl I will not tell the Ladies at Kepare's. As far as 
washing dishes is concerned using the Dishwasher does not count, and 
apparently you do not rinse off with clean water after hand washing 
anyway we have the video evidence Schaut.
Kindest Regards Derek Cockshut.





From: molder@dnr.state.wi.us (Robert Moldenhauer)
Newsgroups: soc.religion.bahai
Subject: Shoghi Effendi and infallability
Date: 5 Sep 1995 18:22:31 -0400
Organization: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Lines: 9
Sender: kalantar@cs.cornell.edu
Approved: rdetweil@hpdmd48.boi.hp.com (Richard Detweiler)
Distribution: world

In an ealier article Bruce Limber wrote that Shoghi Effendi's comment 
on nine religions was wrong.  Juan Cole wrote that Shoghi's interpretation 
of the the Kitab-i-Aqdas statement on homosexuality was wrong and that 
the Universal House of Justice was wrong in including it in it's translation 
of the book.  I had always thought that Shoghi Effendi was infallable when 
interpreting scripture, is this not true? Can we discard his interpretations 
that we don't like?

----- end appended message #1 of 4 -----

----- appended message #2 of 4 -----

From: David Jensen 
Newsgroups: soc.religion.bahai
Subject: Re: Shoghi Effendi and infallability
Date: 6 Sep 1995 09:52:14 -0400
Organization: YukonNet Operating Society
Lines: 23
Sender: kalantar@cs.cornell.edu
Approved: rdetweil@hpdmd48.boi.hp.com (Richard Detweiler)
Distribution: world

Im my own life, I treat the interpretation of Shoghi Effendi and the 
guidance of the Universal House of Justice in the same unquestioning 
manner that I regard the the writings of the Bab, Baha'u'llah and 
Abdu'l-Baha. I readily recognize the difference in each of their 
stations, but I also recognize that mystic unity that ties them all 
together.

Personally I fail to see anything contradictory in the Guardian's 
translation of the passage's in the Aqdas, with the other sacred writ we 
have access to. We should keep in mind that Shoghi Effendi was not only 
guided by Baha'u'llah in his work, but he was also a master of Arabic 
and Farsi, not to mention his acute awareness of the mission of the Bab, 
Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha. Furthermore, we must bear in mind that the 
team of scholars of the Research Department of the House of Justice 
spent at least six years working on the translation of the Aqdas, that 
is the passages that the Guardian had not allready translated. For a 
mistake of such magnitude to escape this team of experts in Arabic and 
Farsi is almost unthinkable.

Just a few thoughts...

----- end appended message #2 of 4 -----

----- appended message #3 of 4 -----

From: mrranjba@expert.cc.purdue.edu (Michael Ranjbar)
Newsgroups: soc.religion.bahai
Subject: Re: Shoghi Effendi and infallability
Date: 6 Sep 1995 14:27:39 -0400
Organization: Purdue University
Lines: 67
Sender: kalantar@cs.cornell.edu
Approved: rdetweil@hpdmd48.boi.hp.com (Richard Detweiler)
Distribution: world

molder@dnr.state.wi.us (Robert Moldenhauer) writes:

>In an ealier article Bruce Limber wrote that Shoghi Effendi's comment 
>on nine religions was wrong.  Juan Cole wrote that Shoghi's interpretation 
>of the the Kitab-i-Aqdas statement on homosexuality was wrong and that 
>the Universal House of Justice was wrong in including it in it's translation 
>of the book.  I had always thought that Shoghi Effendi was infallable when 
>interpreting scripture, is this not true? Can we discard his interpretations 
>that we don't like?

Dear Baha'i Friend,

 I believe that a good book to read on this subject is written by
Shoghi Effendi himself in a letter entitled "Dispensation of Baha'u'llah",
compiled into the  Book: World order of Baha'u'llah. In particular, from
pages 148 onward. This book was written by Shoghi Effendi himself, with 
a clear and obvious knowledge of the english language. In this book, he not
only translates what Abdu'l-Baha said in reference to Himself, but he is
very careful in choosing the words to describe Himself. Take for example
this quote which he translated into the book by Abdu'l-Baha in 
reference to Himself:

 "He is the Interpreter of the Word of God.", Abdu'l-Baha referring to
the functions of the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith. 

Moreover, Shoghi Effendi relates another quote from Abdu'l-Baha:

 "It is incumbent upon the members of the House of Justice..etc..to 
show their obediance, submissiveness, and subordination unto the 
Guardian of the Cause of God." -p.149

 Clearly, Shoghi Effendi went on to state that he should not be 
placed in a equal position to either the Bab, Baha'u'llah, or Abdu'l-Baha
yet nevertheless, it does little to change his clear position or the 
validity of his interpretations. 

 In regards to the question concerning Homosexuality within the Baha'i
Faith, and Shoghi Effendi's translation of this "Law". I believe that
If you consult older persians who were born and raised in Iranian
culture, you will find that Shoghi Effendi's translation is very too
the point. From what I have learned from my own father who is 
Iranian, and was raised in Iran, as well as other older persians, it 
was common practice to refer to a person of a Homosexual disposition 
as one who plays with boys. There was no official word for being 
Homosexual [as I understand it]. 
 
 An analagous situation might be seen in the use of the word "gay" in 
modern english. Clearly, this word in it's strict application does not
necessarily mean Homosexual, but rather "happy". Yet we see that in 
it's social application the word now carries other connotations with it.
Should a foreigner study English, he might never realize the full meaning
of this word in american society. 

 Likewise, when a foreigner such as Dr. Cole, studies persian or 
Arabic, he does not necessarily learn all of the words in their
"cultural context". As a result, He might mistakenly believe that 
a word or phrase has been mis-translated, or mis-interpreted. This
is the ever-present danger of allowing individuals in the faith to 
take liberty with translations or translating Baha'i texts. And this
is why, I believe that the House is very careful, when translating 
any Baha'i Text. 

 In Friendship,

 Mike

----- end appended message #3 of 4 -----

----- appended message #4 of 4 -----

From: "Richard Gurinsky" 
Newsgroups: soc.religion.bahai
Subject: Re: Shoghi Effendi and infallibility
Date: 6 Sep 1995 15:50:18 -0400
Organization: Alamogordo Branch Community College
Lines: 85
Sender: kalantar@cs.cornell.edu
Approved: rdetweil@hpdmd48.boi.hp.com (Richard Detweiler)
Distribution: world

The foundation of the Baha'i Faith is the oneness of humanity.

'Abdu'l-Baha explained that in every age, the Revelation of God is 
focussed on one central theme, which is the fundamental need of the age in 
which it is revealed.  Baha'u'llah wrote that the well-being, the peace 
and tranquillity of mankind, cannot be achieved unless and until its unity 
is firmly established.

So the fundamental need of the age in which we live is unity.
'Abdu'l-Baha said that the Covenant of God in this age is to firmly 
establish the oneness of humanity and the unity of all peoples and 
nations.

So the Baha'i Covenant is very firm and irrefutable.  'Abdu'l-Baha said 
that from the beginning of religious history there has never been a 
Covenant like the Covenant established by Baha'u'llah.  He even stated that 
the first ray of Baha'u'llah's Revelation to dawn upon the world of 
humanity was the ray of the Covenant.  

He stated that without the Covenant, the Baha'i Faith, like 
all other previous religions, would split into many sects.  But the power 
of the Covenant, as demonstrated by the events of the past 150 years, has 
kept the Baha'i Faith unified in one world-wide fellowship, and will 
continue to protect the Baha'i Faith from schism and division.

Baha'u'llah stated that, in this age, God Himself has ordained that the 
power of the Covenant is so strong that it will withstand all the forces 
of enmity, opposition and denail that its ill-wishers may launch 
against it.

In very clear and unequivocal language, Baha'u'llah told the Baha'is to 
turn to 'Abdu'l-Baha, and He conferred the necessary divine authority on 
'Abdu'l-Baha to interpret His Word.  'Abdu'l-Baha, in His _Will and 
Testament_, appointed Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, 
and conferred upon him the necessary divine authority to interpret all the 
BAha'i writings.  He clearly admonishes all the Baha'is to turn to Shoghi 
Effendi, stating that he is "the Sign of God on earth."  

'Abdu'l-Baha also explained in His _Will and Testament_ that The Universal 
House of Justice, which had been created by Baha'u'llah, was infallible in 
its desisions, that it was under the unerring guidance and protection of 
both the Bab and Baha'u'llah, and that whatever it decided was the Will of 
God; and that all Baha'is must turn for guidance to The Universal House of 
Justice.

Nowhere in any of the Baha'i writings does it say that we Baha'is may *pick 
and choose* what we want to follow, and what we want to dispute or ignore.  

There are some five billion people on the face of the earth.  _IF_ every 
one of us has the right to pick and choose what to follow and what to 
dispute, then, as the cynics and fatalists are saying, humanity is doomed 
to self-destruction. _IF_ we all refuse to give up our *right* to pick and 
choose, how will we ever end conflicts such as the one raging in the 
former Yugoslavia?

'Abdu'l-Baha predicted that the Baha'i Faith would experience very severe
attacks from its enemies and ill-wishers.  He said that _every_ aspect of 
the Baha'i Faith would be relentlessly attacked, until it was proven 
beyond the shadow of a doubt that this Faith is of God, and that nothing 
has the power to defeat it or divide it.

It is my understanding that when we see people questioning the 
infallibility of the Guardian's intepretations or translations, or the 
decisions of The Universal House of Justice, we need to turn to the Baha'i 
writings and investigate what the Baha'i writings tell us about this 
subject.  

Nowhere have I ever found any references which indicate that there is any 
doubt about the interpretations and translations of the Guardian, Shoghi 
Effendi, or the decisions of The Universal House of Justice.

I once heard a Baha'i remark that we tend to become Baha'is because 
Baha'u''lah agrees with us; and that we spend the rest of our lives 
learning to agree with Baha'u'llah!

Sincerely, Richard Gurinsky




Richard Gurinsky        hrg@nmsua.nmsu.edu

505-439-3766 (work)     New Mexico State University at Alamogordo
505-437-0173 (home)     PO Box 477, Alamogordo, NM 88310     

----- end appended message #4 of 4 -----

From TLCULHANE@aol.comFri Sep  8 19:14:54 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 16:09:07 -0400
From: TLCULHANE@aol.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: sex and race and Houses

    Dear Friends ,

        I do not mean to be overly dense or argumentative ;  I can't seem to
figure out how it is that race and sex are the same. So I guess Bill G.'s
argument does not persuade me . i know that all men of whatever race are
still men and not women and that all women of whatever race are still women
and not men . In neither case are all men or all women Asian or African or
Caucasian . In many respects from what ,little I have read in physical
anthropology a case can be made that there is only one race -- humans .
Within that race there is a primary differentiation parallelled in other
species as far back as bacteria that results in male and female; in
reproduction the functions associated with this differentiation have become
culturally gendered. From what I know a fairly universal form among humans .
    My problem is this . If sexual differentiation is a physical and cultural
universal how is it that the exemption of women from the House is a Baha'i
problem and not a problem associated with a specific culturally gendered
perception ? In this case a social construction represented by an
identifiable social class .  Is the Baha'i Community not eligible to have its
own understanding of gender as it grows out of the primary physical
differentiation of male and female ?  May not this understanding be different
from the understandings of others ? 
     I understand the argument from Locke about political and contractual
rights . I am not convinved this is the controlling principle . I have
already indicated I dont think the current understandings of equality exhausr
the meaning of equality. I also think such an understanding implicitly rests
on a notion of progress which I dont accept . That being that if it occurs
more recently it must be superior to that which came earlier . Perhaps the
varying expressions of gender thruout the world have something valuable to
consider . 

    There is also a distinction I believe between a voluntary religious
community and its perception of gender functions eithin that community and
the extension of Lockean contract rights in the civil society.  I cant
withdraw from civil society on a global scale .  I am born into involuntarily
and cant leave it . I can be born into the Bahai community and yet withdraw
from it. Or I can enter it voluntarily as an adult and choose to withdraw
from it . For this reason I am not convinced of the extension of the
political rights argument from civil govermment to the Baha'i community. They
are different spheres or domains . Seems to me extending the political
argument  to the religious domain would undermine the civil society which we
want . Would this not be its own kind of fascism ? 

     It sems that the argument may well be one of interpretive frameworks
rather than one of pure logic . Different frameworks or paradigms select
different questions and proofs. I suspect we could quote a lot of Abdu'l Baha
statements bearing on the social relationships of men and women and come up
with apicture that would resemble a current western understanding as well as
ones with a more traditional resonance. I think it would be useful if someone
could contextualize Abdu'l Baha's remarks by audience. I suspect his Tablets
to a Persian audience emphasized different aspects of this issue than his
comments to an American one . Any volunteers . 

    I expect Juan and the other master logicians to find all the appropriate
holes in this :) If so the I may find  a way of of my quandry.  

 warm regards,
     Terry

From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comFri Sep  8 19:15:47 1995
Date: Fri, 08 Sep 95 13:31:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: The Station of Quddus -- continued

[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]

Dear Ahmad and other friends,

With your kind permission, I continue our discussion on this 
thread ...

The Station of Quddus is a mysterious one to be sure.  In one of 
His Writings, Quddus Himself mentions that His station remains 
hidden from all men and that humanity remains unaware of His true 
Self.  When one thinks about this, it is indeed the case.  We all 
have a very limited understanding of His station.  We know that 
He was the foremost disciple of the Bab, a fellow traveler with 
the Bab, together with Mulla Husayn He was the principle teacher 
of the Babi Dispensation, played a central role at the Badasht 
conference, the leader of the Letters of the Living and other 
defenders during the Fort Tabarsi period, but perhaps beyond 
these fragmentary pieces of information that is scattered 
throughout Nabil's immortal history, the Dawn-Breakers, not much 
more is known about Him by the community.

Contrasted against this is the fact that, Quddus in one of His 
Writings says that "In all the Revelation of the past, His 
appearance was anticipated."

Indeed this statement is literally true as He, together with 
Baha'u'llah and the Bab, are mentioned in all the Sacred Books of 
the past.  (In a forthcoming book on the Life and Writings of 
Quddus, I've devoted a whole chapter to this topic.  What follows 
is a very, very brief sampling/summary of that material.)

For example, in the Jewish Scripture, the Book of Daniel, 12:5, 
we find a statement about the vision of Prophet Daniel of Quddus.

In the Christian Scripture, the Book of Revelation, 11:11, St. 
John the Divine, refers to him as one the Two "Witnesses" -- one 
being the Bab the other Quddus.  (See Abdu'l-Baha's commentary in 
Some Answered Question for details.)

There are other references in Judeo-Christian Scriptures.

In the Islamic Dispensation, there are several wonderful 
prophecies about Him in Qur'an.  For example there is the verse 
of Qur'an that says:  "Az arsalna alayhim athniyn.  Fakazabuhuma.  
Fa azzna huma bi thalatha" (We sent unto you Two.  You rejected 
them Both (literally: you considered Both liars).  We graced you 
then with the Third.) 

For a long time, the early believers where puzzled by this verse.  
They could not figure out what it meant.  Finally, during the 
Abdu'l-Baha's ministry, they wrote to Him saying, "The Master, we 
have found this prophecy in Qur'an about You.  The first Two sent 
were, of course the Bab and Baha'u'llah, whom were rejected by 
humanity and now God has graced us with the "Third" which is 
You."  Abdu'l-Baha wrote back, saying:  not even close!  He said 
that by the "Third" is meant Baha'u'llah!  The first Two are the 
Bab and Quddus -- both of Whom were rejected by humanity, so God 
then honored us with Baha'u'llah.

Now, this is Tablet of Abdu'l-Baha shows his incredible genius.  
He knew that if He was to leave it at that, then folks would say:  
"Gee, Abdu'l-Baha is doing "ta`ruf".  This is really a reference 
to Him, but He is being humble and is Interpreting it this way to 
be modest."

So, Abdu'l-Baha continued in the Tablet that He wrote on this 
subject by quoting from Baha'u'llah Himself where He (the Blessed 
Perfection) refers to Himself as the "Third".  Thereby, the 
Master showed that this was not His Interpretation, but rather it 
was Baha'u'llah's.

Anyway, my point is that there are a number of verses of Qur'an 
that seem to refer to Quddus.  (Again there are lots of details 
that must wait for the publication of the book on Quddus.)

In addition to the statements of Qur'an about Quddus, there are a 
number of oral statements from Prophet Muhammad -- the so called 
Hadith-i Nabavi.  For example, there is this oral statement of 
Muhammad:  "And when the Mihdi is made manifest, He shall lean 
His back against ka`bih and shall address to the 313 followers 
who will have grouped around Him, these words:  'The 
Baqiyyitu'llah will be best for you if ye are of those who 
believe.' "  And of course Quddus fulfilled this prophecy upon 
His entry in Fort Tabarsi.  (A few comments:  313 refers to the 
number of martyrs at the Fort, and not the participants.  
Baqiyyitu'llah is a code word used in Qur'an to refer to 
Baha'u'llah -- it is translated as "the remnant of God", God 
referring to the Bab, and Baha'u'llah is literally the only Babi 
leader Who survived, hence, the remnant.)

Anyway, what is of interest is that this Hadith has to do with 
Mihdi, and yet it was fulfilled in Quddus.  There are a number of 
other statements about Mihdi and yet find their their fulfillment 
in Quddus and not the Bab.  Incidentally, this is a very 
important in understanding the station of Quddus -- that is, He 
is the very reflection/essence of the Bab.  But more on this 
later ...

Additionally, there are numerous traditions by the Imams about 
Him -- which quoting them just makes this posting even more 
boring than it already is.

When one examines all these traditions by Imams (particularly the 
6th Imam), one notes that the Islamic Dispensation was 
anticipating not just one Qa'im, but rather 3 Qa'ims.  The first 
Qa'im is the "One Who will arise from the House of Muhammad", the 
second is the Qa'im-i Khurasani (Mulla Husayn) and the third is 
the Qa'im-i Gilani (the One Who will arise from Gilan (province 
where Quddus was born)).  The early narrators of the Faith, refer 
to Quddus as Qa'im-i Gilani in their histories and this is how he 
was known by the Babi community.

Anyway, the above sampling of the prophecies about Him is 
sufficient to give us a rudimentary understanding that the Person 
of Quddus was anticipated down the ages and Dispensations.

Again, please understand that my knowledge is extremely limited 
on this subject and can only hope that others with much deeper 
understanding will grace us with their insights.

(more to follow ...)

lovingly, ahang.

From jrcole@umich.eduFri Sep  8 19:16:28 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 16:26:22 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
To: Ahang Rabbani 
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: The Station of Quddus and Tahirih


It may be interesting to note that after the Bab's and Quddus's deaths a 
group of Babis grew up known as Qurratis, who believed that Tahirih was 
the Manifestation after the BAB>

CHEERS  JUAN COLE< HISTORY  UNIV OF MICHIGAN

From Dave10018@aol.comFri Sep  8 19:16:43 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 16:16:30 -0400
From: Dave10018@aol.com
To: robert.johnston@stonebow.otago.ac.nz, TLCULHANE@aol.com,
    talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: a riff on grace but mostly on postmodernism and world order and love

Robert,

I like to think about grace myself, tying together as it does athletics and
theology, rhythm and blues. But, to generalize, grace escapes the grumpy!
 Honest struggles to understand can,perhaps must, include complaints of pain
and protestations along the lines of "Must this be? Is it unchangeable? I
want to find a way to change it!" Indeed, I think perhaps this issue(women
and the House) is so difficult because we, all of us, all of us, read too
much into it. I see no text which suggests that women's exclusion from
membership on the House(for whatever length of time)or from the Gaurdianship,
for that matter, has anything whatever to do with women's capacities. Perhaps
when that fact is established and obvious to all,  reasons of a different
order, pleasing to women, may emerge.Until then, and until every question of
any kind of discrimination based on some putative incapacity of women has
been defeated and banished from our thoughts, examining, questioning, even
probing for a  possibility of change may serve the process of understanding.
  If you find these lines of questioning ungraceful, Robert,  why not be
gentle in your remonstrances?   

 More felicitous and more stimulating in my view your post of September first
in reply to Terry on postmodernism to which I feel moved to add my 2 cents
American.


In a message dated 95-09-01 22:01:08 EDT,
robert.johnston@stonebow.otago.ac.nz (Robert Johnston) writes:

>Subj:	postmodernism, gender...
>Date:	95-09-01 22:01:08 EDT

>
>Dear Terry,
>
>            re:
>>
>>  The postmodernists and all sex is really gender and that is socially
>>constructed.
>
>The association of postmodernism exclusively with social constructionism
>limits too severely the scope of postmodernism, I think. 

Certainly writers who have taken a "postmodernist" stance have not based all
their work on the importance of social construction of phenomena generally
assumed to be "natural," but this has been one of their leading themes,
especially as regards  questions of gender, sexuality and indeed, mental
illness and individual personality.Postmodernist skepticism tends to be so
thoroughgoing as to question any project, leading,as Terry said,  to a kind
of quietism, as with, for example, Jean Boudrillard,  but  In extending
radical critique to identity and subjectivity and assumptions hidden in our
use of language itself, postmodern thought also embraces  the desire to
extend the modernist project of reforming society according to a search for
equity, seeking to "deconstruct" systems which support racism, sexism, and,
not insignificantly, "heterosexism", which is defined as institutional bias
in favor of heterosexuality. It is with this desire that social activists,
including feminists, have taken up the tools of linguistic and structural
analysis(and "poststructuralism") to "decolonize" women, non-Western
societies, and minorities, including "sexual minorities." Thus to the extent
that there is an activist postmodernism it is an extention of the modernist
project of reshaping  society on a "rational" basis. 


 Generally
>speaking, I see postmodernism as a transitional period between the Old
>World Order and the New. 

Here I must beg to differ. Speaking also quite generally, the period of
crisis and transition is the entire modern period. The term "modern" came
into use because of the recognition that the present age is qualitatively
different not because of technological change alone but because traditional
centers of authority have been  losing their legitimacy. In traditional
societies authority has been maintained through appeal to a glorious past. In
modern societies the appeal is to an understanding of the needs of the
present, or, sometimes, to a utopian future. Not only traditional authorities
but all authority in modern society has proven more or less unstable. Radical
attempts to resurrect authority have included Soviet Communism and the "new
barbarism" of Naziism. (in the dialectic of decadence, the opposite of
decadence is not moderation but barbarism.) It is sobering to realize that
the proponents of these philosophies drew on the same theory of decadence
found, for example, in Oswald Spengler's famous work, "The Decline of the
West," as did Shoghi Effendi. In the modern age attempts to reconstruct
authority by appeal to some rational understanding of human nature and
"modern conditions" have always been opposed by, on the one hand, strident
appeals to traditional authority(fundamentalisms and nationalisms), and, on
the other, the kind of pessimism about reform identified with postmodernism.
And the attempts to reconstruct authority have often been monstrous and had
tragic results,and even moderate attempts at reform or even attempts to
preserve the status-quo have had disastrous effects as well, but that doesn't
mean that we can dismiss every contribution made over the last two hundred
years.  As we regard modern history we see it is shot through with
postmodernism. (In art early postmodernists include the Dadaists, most
especially Marcel Duchamp.) Also, we see, along with the naive exponents of
imperialism and material wealth, many voices raised pointing to the tragic
consequences of the loss of God, among them many agnostic and a-thiestic
philosophers looking for a way to continue, such as Neitsche and Sartre. We
see everything subjected to questioning and analysis. 

 Modern American optimism survived as long as it did(It is definitely on the
wane now!) because American traditions have been slow to collapse and
Americans have thought of themselves, as a result, as a more rational and
stable people than Europeans, but the internal contradictions of American
society have been growing all along. The"cultural wars" for example, are
nothing new, but show up clearly in the whole history of US immigration
policy, in the struggle over prohibition, in the rise of Hollywood gossip and
many other places.

The Baha'i view that all things have been
>invested with new meanings is being visited upon the world both as calamity
>and opportunity.  "Calamitous" is the deconstruction of the metaphysical
>ontology of even positivist thought (Heidegger, Derrida) -- hence the
>anti-essentialism of social constructionism; telling of "opportunity"  is
>the arrival and exploration of new liberating ways of being. 

Calamitous is the atomization of communities and the spread of distrust along
with the spread of drugs, guns, random violence, terrorism.  Calamitous is
the fate of Yugoslavia. But, indeed, out of this calamity does grow shared
experience which, finally, must play a role in welding humanity together, an
experience ready to take on meaning as we find it meaningful through relating
it to a story of human transformation with Baha'u'llah and His Divine
Authority at its center.  The result must be, in the long, long run, a newly
stabilized society which, with faith in God allied to stable institutions,
must have some features of traditional societies, but, with the appreciation
of diversity, equality of the sexes and the relativity of progressive
approximations of truth which are enshrined in the Revelation, must preserve
many features of modern society as well, freed from the curses of war and
hatred and the crippling anxiety of chronic instability.

 We recall that Christianity triumphed in Europe as the Roman empire fell,
and that the Christians, in their zeal to recreate their world, failed, in
Europe, to recognize much that was of value in their civilization and were
not only unable to preserve it but actively destroyed much of the ancient
civilization in their hands, contributing to the darkness of the age.  Their
artists, for example, rejected the realism of Greek and Roman art in favor of
a flatter iconic style. The Renaissance represented the understanding that
Christian themes and Pagan themes and styles could be reconciled.  Our
judgement of things matters. We do not want to be like the Christians of
Imperial Rome. We want to be like the Christians of Byzantium.

 If we dismiss the terms in which our fellows understand the world and refuse
to share with them, considering the relatively affluent too corrupt to become
Baha'is, reject contemporary culture and seek out only the more obviously
dispossessed, the minorities and native peoples we romanticize, we are
waiting for the process of tragedy to progress until all are obviously
dispossessed. The world is suffering and it is tragic that we appear deaf to
all but the obvious suffering. Also, the world is filled with grace, with
intuitions of hope and joy, and we need to hear that also, to recognize
beauty and share love. Suffering and love are everywhere, and we must meet
everyone on their own terms. Calamity, too, is relative. If we have the
imagination to realize the calamity we are in now, it can be enough!
Otherwise, it gets worse.  "There shall suddenly appear that which shall
cause the limbs of mankind to quake." Surely these words have already come
true. Do we have to wait for another demonstration?  
 
 At the heart
>of the matter is, I think, a redefinition of the experience of subjectivity
>entailing the incorporation into the centres [from the margins] of human
>life of more inclusive, feminine attributes. 
 Nationalism is a good symbol
>for modernism, internationalism a good symbol for the telos of
>postmodernism.  

The ecofeminism strikes me as being very positively
>postmodern.
>
>
>Robert.
>
Internationalism also grows out of modernism. "Workers of the world, unite!"
wrote Marx and Engels in 1844. Localism, parochialism, anti-internationalism
also grows out of modernism but so do they grow in postmodern soil. The
unabomber is a postmodernist, for example.Postmodernist relativism has been
used to repudiate human rights as a neocolonial imposition of Western vales.
The point is not which ideology is most "advanced." Avant-gardism is a
characteristic modernist attempt to generate an ideology with enough force to
end the crisis of modernism, an appeal to a utopian future, whether of
communism or anarchic liberation or whatever. All of these dreams have
something to say for them. Eco-feminists are similar to many radical
feminisms(radical meaning attempting to get   the root of things,the same
sense in which the faith is supposed to be radical.Please note i do not use
this term as a derogatory epithet)As Marx proposed that the proletariat was
the most oppressed class and thus had nothing to gain from oppression and
thus stood outside the system of oppression and from this "standpoint" could
see oppression clearly and could establish justice if the proletariat could
hold power as a class, so some radical feminists have proposed that women are
the true universally oppressed class and thus have attempted to build a
universal standard of value on the "standpoint" of women. Much can be learned
from such attempts. Ecofeminism is solidly within this tradition, an attempt
to broaden the frame of reference by linking women to the earth through
essentialist ideas. 
 
Yes, at the heart of the matter is a redefinition of our experience, an
awareness of how much we share, of how we share, of how interdependent and
bound up with each other we really are, of how difficult and beautiful it is
to be human, and how to love the languages we all use, whether fancy or funny
or "debased."

i hope this wasn't too incoherent. i shared more than i expected to.
Thankyou, Robert, for the occassion.

David Taylor


From burlb@bmi.netFri Sep  8 19:19:31 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 95 14:40 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
To: Juan R Cole 
Subject: Re: The Station of Quddus and Tahirih

>
>It may be interesting to note that after the Bab's and Quddus's deaths a 
>group of Babis grew up known as Qurratis, who believed that Tahirih was 
>the Manifestation after the BAB>
>
>CHEERS  JUAN COLE< HISTORY  UNIV OF MICHIGAN
>
>So, where do the hold their annual convention?





From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comFri Sep  8 19:23:53 1995
Date: Fri, 08 Sep 95 15:09:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: more on the Station of Quddus

[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]


  Beloved Friends,
  
  I hope that none of you are getting too tired with this thread, 
  because I just think that it's an extremely fascinating and 
  novel subject.  So. please stay with me as we now want to look 
  at some of the Writings of the Central Figures about Quddus -- 
  this should give us an added measure of understanding of His 
  stupendous station and unique rank in this Dispensation.
  
  So, here we go .... stay with me now and read carefully....
  
  First, in my last post I meant to include a brief statement 
  from Quddus but I forgot.  Sorry.  So, I do it now.
  
  In one of His Writings Quddus states:  "I swear by God, I am 
  the Promised One, Who has been mentioned in all the Heavenly 
  Tablets.  All the Divine Manifestations, both by allusion and 
  outwardly, have anticipated Me.  Therefore, I swear by God, if 
  thou fail to recognize Me and believe in Me, verily thou have 
  failed to believe in all the previous Manifestations and 
  disbelieved in Them all."
  
  (Pretty neat statement, don't you think?  Go back and read it 
  again.)
  
  
  The Writings of the Bab are filled with references, in the most 
  tender terms, to Quddus.  The Bab has immortalized Him as 
  Ismu'llahi'l-Akhir (The Last Name of God).  
  
  The Bab in Qayyumu'l-Asma (His magnificent commentary on the 
  Sura of Joseph) had adopted the title of Hadrat-i A`la (His 
  Holiness the Exalted One) for Himself.  This is the title that 
  commonly you find in the Writings used to refer to the Bab.  
  (For example see Abdu'l-Baha's Will and Testament where He 
  refers to the "Exalted One", meaning the Bab.)  Now, what is 
  fascinating is that around the time of Badasht conference, the 
  Bab instructed all believers to begin to refer to Quddus as 
  Hadrat-i A`la.  In other words, by giving Quddus His own title, 
  the Bab made the association between Himself and Quddus very 
  explicit one.  
  
  But there is more, a lot more ...
  
  The Bab in the Persian Bayan extolled Quddus as the 
  fellow-pilgrim and Habib (beloved) round Whom mirrors to the 
  number of 8 vahids (152) revolve and one whose "detachment and 
  the sincerity of whose devotion to God's will God prideth 
  Himself amidst the Concourse on High."  (I read the second 
  "God" to be a reference to the Bab Himself.  In numerous 
  places, the Bab, Baha'u'llah and Quddus have used "God" as 
  references to their inner/higher Self.)
  
  There are truly a large number of amazing statements about 
  Quddus revealed by the Bab.  For example there is a large Book, 
  over 300 pages, by the Bab, found only very recently, where the 
  whole thing is a eulogy in honor of Quddus and Mulla Husayn.  
  (Very recently a very, very large body of the Writings of the 
  Bab and other Figures was located across the globe.)  There are 
  some incredible statements in the Bab's Writings about Quddus 
  the kernel of which is that Quddus is the reflection of the 
  very essence of Himself.
  
  Unlike Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha, both the Bab and Shoghi 
  Effendi have revealed very few Tablets of Visitations.  One 
  such Tablet of Visitation was revealed by the Bab in honor of 
  Quddus which stands some 14 pages long.  Baha'u'llah has 
  revealed 3 Tablets of Visitation in honor of Quddus!
  
  The title of "Quddus" was conferred upon Him by the Bab during 
  the Badasht Conference.  The significant of this title lies in 
  Islamic prophecies which anticipated that the appearance of 
  Qa'im and return of Christ will be simultaneous.  "Quddus" is a 
  derivative of the Arabic "Ruhu'l-Quds" (The Holy Spirit) which 
  has a clear Christian connotation.  Therefore, through such a 
  title, the believers recognized that the age-old prophecies 
  about the appearance of Qa'im and return of Christ find their 
  realization in the Bab and Quddus -- the Twin Luminaries of the 
  Babi Dispensation.
  
  In numerous passages in His Writings, Quddus, identifies 
  Himself with the spiritual return of Christ -- as was 
  anticipated in earlier prophecies.  He even began to refer to 
  His sister as "Maryam".  And much like Christ, He wore very 
  simple clothing, the garment of dervish -- unlike the Bab and 
  other Letters of Living which wore the clothing of the Divines.  
  (In fact, people knew Him by His clothing which is how He was 
  identified at Niyala (after Badasht conf) and received beating 
  before Baha'u'llah came to His rescue and gave Quddus His own 
  clothing so people won't recognize Him.  Of course, some time 
  earlier, in Shiraz, at the court of the Governor, again because 
  of His clothing, He was initially ignored and only Mulla Sadiq 
  Khurasani was rebuked and beaten -- later Quddus did receive 
  severe beating.) 
  
  Incidentally, the connection between Quddus and return of 
  Christ is not lost on Baha'u'llah, as on a number of occasions 
  when He recalls Quddus, He somehow evokes the association with 
  Christ.  For example, Baha'u'llah in one Tablet states:  "No 
  one has suffered more at the time of martyrdom than Quddus -- 
  not even Christ."
  
  Again, if I was to relate the details of Quddus' martyrdom, how 
  He was literally torn apart piece by piece, and then set on 
  fire, you would fully agree with Baha'u'llah that no one, not 
  even Christ, suffered at the hour of death the agonies which He 
  endured. 
  
  Getting back to the Badasht Conference, it was during that time 
  that the believers collectively, for the first time perhaps, 
  became acquainted with the Writings of Quddus.  Before then, 
  Quddus had kept His Writings to Himself and very few had seen 
  them.  Of course, in the summer of 1847, when at the 
  instruction of the Bab, Mulla Husayn for the second time in his 
  life had gone on the search for the "Hidden Treasure", upon 
  seeing a single page of Quddus' Writings had become aware of 
  the supreme nature of those verses and the recognized that 
  their source is none other than Divine Fountainhead and that 
  the Hidden Treasure as promised by the Bab is none other than 
  Quddus.
  
  But now, at Badasht, Quddus' Writings were being read by all.
  
  So, what did Quddus say in His Writings during Badasht period?  
  Any why are we placing such importance on them?
  
  
  The answer to this most fascinating question will be given in 
  the next post....  stay toned...
  
  (Don't you absolutely love these stuff about Quddus??  I think 
  they are positively thrilling  ...)
  
  much love, ahang.
  
  
  ps.  Please do let me know if you get tired of these things and 
  I'll shut up ...




From shastri@best.comFri Sep  8 22:43:07 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 16:50:56 -0700
From: Shastri Purushotma 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: The Station of Quddus

  Indeed, together with Baha'u'llah and the Bab, 
>He has the station of Manifestationhood ("mazhariyyat") as 
>testified by Baha'u'llah Himself.  That is, although, He was not 
>authorized to inaugurate a new Theophony, He ranks as a 
>Manifestation of God.  Interesting enough, both Qur'an and 
>Quddus' own Writings state exactly the same claim about Him too.

Ahang,

Welcome back...

In some ways ... the above reminds me of a
Tablet of Abdul Baha which says
that (to paraphrase) although
Jala-u-din Rumi was not a Manifestation,yet his 
Mathnavi is considered as a "Book" of Revealed Writings on an equal 
level to that which a Manifestation would reveal.

Just in this case things are flip-flopped.

Can you or someone else pls expound on the word "mazhariyyat"?

Are there other words used for the concept of
"Manifestation" or "Messenger" or "Prophet"(i.e "Rasul", "nabi" etc),
 If so in what contexts?
What are the distinctions and implications 
of all these words?

Pls keep up the postings 

Shastri



From robert.johnston@stonebow.otago.ac.nzFri Sep  8 22:45:44 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 12:40:04 +1200
From: Robert Johnston 
To: Dave10018@aol.com, talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: a riff on grace but mostly on postmodernism and world order and love

Dear Dave,
          I cannot do justice to your long and thought provoking letter.
Last night I watched the video of "The Last of the Mohicans" and thought it
a movie full of grace.  But I am the sort of person that understands what
happened to Nietzsche when he saw, by lightening flash, a shepherd slitting
the throat of a sheep under a tree. [Do I have the story correct?]  On my
mother's side we are coal miners and had trodden and toiled in gloomy  and
perilous depths.  On my father's side we are farmers and soldiers and known
the smell of rich earth, blood and horse sweat and gun powder.  Much of my
life I have had to suppress who am am, but have come to live with the glory
of thunder.   Walt Whitman wrote, " I celebrate myself," and while he is
reckoned to be a great poet, is it not strange that we do not lean how to
celebrate ourselves?  I make no apology for being myself because I know the
love I carry in my heart.  If those whom I converse with wish to turn
aside, so be it. I care less about this than if they stay falsely.  I told
someone the other day that I thought my finest attribute was diplomacy.  I
explained this by stating that I was the third born in a family of six and
had to learn the dynamics of care and caution.  Is it not strange that I
also acknowledge that I am probably the most "undiplomatic" current
correspondent on Talisman?  I would strongly suggest that the meaning of
diplomacy -- along with femininity and masculinity  --  is badly in need of
revision.  The Englishman Chamberlain who proclaimed "peace in our time"
after visiting  Hitler did not manifest my kind of diplomacy.  Winston
Churchill did.  Ahh... but I do go on.

I guess I am daunted by the prospect of answering your letter.

 I see no text which suggests that women's exclusion from
>membership on the House(for whatever length of time)or from the Gaurdianship,
>for that matter, has anything whatever to do with women's capacities.

Agreed.  Why not "functions"?
I have a kind of post script to my letters on this topic.  Mary wrote that
she felt that while the wisdom of this decision  would become clear in the
future, the reason for it wouldn't.  I do not accept this analysis because
it presents the possibility of separating wisdom and reason.  Knowledge was
never value free, and values could not reach humans if there were no
intellectual analysis.  We believe that we know the reason why alcohol
consumption is proscribed in the Faith, but the ultimate reason is this: it
is set down in the Faith.


Postmodernism....

You make a good point when you indicate that modernism proclaimed itself as
a liberatory project.  However, how do you square this proclamation with
the view expressed by the Guardian and the House  (and prefigured in the
Writings of  Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha)  that the fortunes of humanity
are approaching their lowest ebb?  What happened to the promises of
modernity?

When I think of modernity I think of the Enlightenment and its two most
prominent children liberal capitalism and communism.  This whole historical
movement, it seems to me, was like a theft of fire from the gods, because
it became progressively atheistic, and its dreams turned to ashes.

In Russia and and China, despite statements about gender equality, women
are still severely marginalised.  The French, despite their sense of
fraternity, still explode bombs on the Pacific.  American and European
cities are plagued by violence, homelessness and disease.  Africa is awash
with famine and blood.  Asia swealters under corruption.

In my analysis the culprit is selfishness (the opposite of grace!) and the
central trope of selfishness is the degenerate form of the Cartesian cogito
-- the materialistic and secular forms of "I think therefore I am."  This
degenerate form is at the heart of all the modern evils  (the three most
virulent of which are nationalism, communism and racism, the Guardian said)
, in my view.

Derrida's analysis of rationality was premised by the view that God is
dead.  He -- following Heidegger -- traced the particular form of modern
rationality  (the cogito form of above) back to its theistic assumptions
and on this basis  -- and in view of modernity's failures -- was able to
"announce" the overthrowing of civilisation as we know it (Jim).  [Well:
that's my version of what Derrida's about anyway.  Maybe Dann Mayes or
William Michael or Mary Day or Steve "Stan" Friberg are able to give a
better version].   This analysis is good from a Baha'i perspective because
(1) it highlights the connection between reason and the Logos, (11) it
highlights the emptiness of our contemporary culture, and (111), it
images-forth the death of the Old World Order.  This analysis is bad from a
Baha'i viewpoint because (1) it assumes the death of God, (11) it
undermines the legitimate projects of reason, (111) it offers no obviously
hopeful solution.  Foucault's work is similarly good and bad,  I think.

Now to feminism.  Feminists have mounted similar critiques to modernity to
those of Foucault and Derrida. For this reason I state that feminism is
postmodern, BUT do not confine postmodernity of the usual list of male
figures, who  -- really -- are the "Johnny-come-latelys" of postmodernity.

But let me explain a bit.  Feminists have [recently] taken on board lots of
Derrida and Foucault but -- speaking generally (excuse me Mary)  -- have
different emphases, including: (1) the association of modernity with
patriarchy  (though Derrida did coin the term "phallogocentric"), (11) a
wider discussion of the possibility of alternative forms of understanding
including different versions of reasoning, (111) a more positive outlook
concerning the future.


Now, as Baha'is we know that this is the first Dispensation that has
proclaimed the equality of men and women, so, logically, the breakdown of
the Old World Order is bound to entail a massive re-arrangement of
gender-power relations. If modernity has been characterised by the
progressive exposure of the perversity (and death-bound nature) of
exclusively male forms of subjectivity  -- that is, versions of the
degenerated cogito -- then postmodernity must surely entail the
construction of new forms of subjectivity which (for those who see the
outcome of history as the Most Great peace) incorporate the feminine
functions that 'Abdu'l-Baha highlights.  In my optimism I am a feminist
second, Baha'i first.


Dave.  I'll read through your letter again to see if I have missed anything
that I'd like to comment upon..  Reflecting on this letter, I think that
our analyses of history are similar but perhaps I could be a little more
generous with modernity...

Goodness gracious, (was this mild enough?)

Robert.




From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comFri Sep  8 22:46:12 1995
Date: Fri, 08 Sep 95 19:44:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Mazhariyyat

[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]

Dear Shastri,

Great to hear from you too.

In regard to a discussion on the subject of "Mazhariyyat" 
(Manifestationshood), I think, we can do no better than turn to:

"The Concept of Manifestation in the Baha'i Writings", Juan R. 
Cole, 1982, Baha'i Studies, vol 9, ABS Canada.

And for those who like to read from right to left:

"Mazhariyyat", Nader Saeidi, 1995, Persian Institute for Baha'i 
Studies, Canada.

These two documents are *must* readings on this subject.

Of course, if our dear Juan could take a few minutes and share 
some insights on this subject, then we'll all be better for it 
and very appreciative too.

In addition, could we please ask Nima, Frank and John to tell us 
a bit more about Rumi's poetry and influence on Islam and Baha'i 
Dispensations -- and possibly suggest some further readings in 
English?

regards, ahang.


From robert.johnston@stonebow.otago.ac.nzFri Sep  8 22:46:57 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 13:53:10 +1200
From: Robert Johnston 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: interpretation

>On Thu, 7 Sep 1995, Juan R Cole wrote:
>
>>   With regard to the possibility of women on the House, it seems to me
>> that no one has answered Bill Garlington's challenging analogy.
>> Discrimination on the basis of sex is no different than discrimination on
>> the basis of race.  Saying women cannot serve on the House is morally
>> equivalent to saying that, e.g., blacks cannot serve on the House.
>

Dear Juan,

Would this mean that we would be impelled to have black wives of either (or
any) gender? Is that too gnomic?  Am I thick?

Robert.



From haukness@tenet.eduFri Sep  8 22:47:50 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 21:09:03 -0500 (CDT)
From: John Haukness 
To: Burl Barer 
Cc: David Langness <72110.2126@compuserve.com>, talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: A Woman's Place is on the House

Allah-u-abha Friends: Well I am sorry Burl, but I cannot agree with you 
more. I agree with the friends that this is a tought issue, I only 
disagree that it is the only tough issue, and for those who struggle with 
and against it, I hope I struggle with you but that doesn't mean that it 
is in the least an issue for me; will share briefly of a personal 
transformation story.

When I declared 15 years ago the Grand Forks Baha'is were guarded that my 
radical political views would not be compatible with the faith and that 
my tenure with the faith could be brief and more problematic than 
fruitful. And political to the left I was, there fears that I would hoist 
Baha'i Holy writings on a banner and parade with my gay rights friends 
were aprehensions of much merit. But then Baha'is are not prepared for 
people to come into the faith through the sacred writings and not because 
we like the new age people, or liberal people. I became a Baha'i because 
of the Iqan and SAQ, sorry Baha'is you don't get the credit. 

So I had two letters written my first month as a Baha'i, to this so 
called House of Justice I new so little about, but I had heard that the 
Baha'is were convinced that homosexuality was not natural and that 
cannibus was also prohibited, and I was going to write my letters and try 
to straigten this House out as to the correct progressive truth. But then 
something happened along the way, I read from Bahaullah, and Abdul Baha, 
writings that clearly indicated that homosexuality was not natural and 
was prohibited (I know many tali's see this topic just as the women on 
the house topic, ie there must be a better way to interprit the writings 
because like I used to feel, homosexuality is natural, and that hemp too 
was prohibited. Well, that ended my letters to this House, I tore them 
up, and although my thoughts until then were some of my most sacred 
politically correct views, and I had won many a political battle in a 
number of universities,  I just changed my  mind, Bahaullah knew and I 
didn't, it was really very simple for me. I am sorry that it is not so 
simple for others but for me I'd rather be dead than doubt Bahaullah.


haukness@tenet.edu

From cbuck@ccs.carleton.caFri Sep  8 22:48:36 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 95 22:37:53 EDT
From: Christopher Buck 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Cc: Christopher Buck 
Subject: Is Quddus a Manifestation?

	Ahang's posts on Quddus reflect an exhaustive research effort
incorporating some newly-discovered primary sources as well as other
unpublished material. This is the cutting edge. Right before our eyes!

	However, I would advise Ahang to perhaps publish the prophecy
material separately. I think it detracts from the importance of what
he is doing. This is only my opinion. I offer it respectfully.

	I cannot pretend to know more than I do. So I publicly pose the
question: What does all of this mean? Are Quddus's theophanic locutions
simply ecstatic utterances representing an extension of the Bab's own
revelation? Is Quddus the Babi *al-Hallaj*?

	Or are we to read the writings of Quddus--which the Bab
referred to as *evident magic* or *palpable sorcery*--a little more
literally? If read literally, especially in light of the praise the
Central Figures of the Faith lavish on him, the writings of Quddus
could be interpreted as revelation. 

	Quddus proclaims himself a Manifestation. Quddus writes like a
Manifestation. In the Master's interpretation [or, in one of his two
interpretations] of the *Tale of the City* in the heart of the Qur'an,
Quddus figures as an Apostle along with the Bab.

	So, Ahang, my question is this: We know Quddus is important.
But why is he important? It would be a tautology to say Quddus is
important because the Central Figures say so. The question remains:
What is Quddus's role? What did he do that surpasses Mulla Husayn? Or
are we simply to accept Quddus's importance as a matter of faith?

	Christopher Buck 


From cbuck@ccs.carleton.caFri Sep  8 23:45:39 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 95 22:37:53 EDT
From: Christopher Buck 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Cc: Christopher Buck 
Subject: Is Quddus a Manifestation?

	Ahang's posts on Quddus reflect an exhaustive research effort
incorporating some newly-discovered primary sources as well as other
unpublished material. This is the cutting edge. Right before our eyes!

	However, I would advise Ahang to perhaps publish the prophecy
material separately. I think it detracts from the importance of what
he is doing. This is only my opinion. I offer it respectfully.

	I cannot pretend to know more than I do. So I publicly pose the
question: What does all of this mean? Are Quddus's theophanic locutions
simply ecstatic utterances representing an extension of the Bab's own
revelation? Is Quddus the Babi *al-Hallaj*?

	Or are we to read the writings of Quddus--which the Bab
referred to as *evident magic* or *palpable sorcery*--a little more
literally? If read literally, especially in light of the praise the
Central Figures of the Faith lavish on him, the writings of Quddus
could be interpreted as revelation. 

	Quddus proclaims himself a Manifestation. Quddus writes like a
Manifestation. In the Master's interpretation [or, in one of his two
interpretations] of the *Tale of the City* in the heart of the Qur'an,
Quddus figures as an Apostle along with the Bab.

	So, Ahang, my question is this: We know Quddus is important.
But why is he important? It would be a tautology to say Quddus is
important because the Central Figures say so. The question remains:
What is Quddus's role? What did he do that surpasses Mulla Husayn? Or
are we simply to accept Quddus's importance as a matter of faith?

	Christopher Buck 



Subject: Shoghi Effendi and infallability
From: molder@dnr.state.wi.us (Robert Moldenhauer)
Date: 5 Sep 1995 18:22:31 -0400
Message-ID: <42iij7$j4d@cloyd.cs.cornell.edu>

In an ealier article Bruce Limber wrote that Shoghi Effendi's comment 
on nine religions was wrong.  Juan Cole wrote that Shoghi's interpretation 
of the the Kitab-i-Aqdas statement on homosexuality was wrong and that 
the Universal House of Justice was wrong in including it in it's translation 
of the book.  I had always thought that Shoghi Effendi was infallable when 
interpreting scripture, is this not true? Can we discard his interpretations 
that we don't like?
------------------------------------------------------


Subject: Re: Shoghi Effendi and infallability
From: mrranjba@expert.cc.purdue.edu (Michael Ranjbar)
Date: 6 Sep 1995 14:27:39 -0400
Message-ID: <42kp6r$a01@cloyd.cs.cornell.edu>

Dear Baha'i Friend,

 I believe that a good book to read on this subject is written by
Shoghi Effendi himself in a letter entitled "Dispensation of Baha'u'llah",
compiled into the  Book: World order of Baha'u'llah. In particular, from
pages 148 onward. This book was written by Shoghi Effendi himself, with 
a clear and obvious knowledge of the english language. In this book, he not
only translates what Abdu'l-Baha said in reference to Himself, but he is
very careful in choosing the words to describe Himself. Take for example
this quote which he translated into the book by Abdu'l-Baha in 
reference to Himself:

 "He is the Interpreter of the Word of God.", Abdu'l-Baha referring to
the functions of the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith. 

Moreover, Shoghi Effendi relates another quote from Abdu'l-Baha:

 "It is incumbent upon the members of the House of Justice..etc..to 
show their obediance, submissiveness, and subordination unto the 
Guardian of the Cause of God." -p.149

 Clearly, Shoghi Effendi went on to state that he should not be 
placed in a equal position to either the Bab, Baha'u'llah, or Abdu'l-Baha
yet nevertheless, it does little to change his clear position or the 
validity of his interpretations. 

 In regards to the question concerning Homosexuality within the Baha'i
Faith, and Shoghi Effendi's translation of this "Law". I believe that
If you consult older persians who were born and raised in Iranian
culture, you will find that Shoghi Effendi's translation is very too
the point. From what I have learned from my own father who is 
Iranian, and was raised in Iran, as well as other older persians, it 
was common practice to refer to a person of a Homosexual disposition 
as one who plays with boys. There was no official word for being 
Homosexual [as I understand it]. 
 
 An analagous situation might be seen in the use of the word "gay" in 
modern english. Clearly, this word in it's strict application does not
necessarily mean Homosexual, but rather "happy". Yet we see that in 
it's social application the word now carries other connotations with it.
Should a foreigner study English, he might never realize the full meaning
of this word in american society. 

 Likewise, when a foreigner such as Dr. Cole, studies persian or 
Arabic, he does not necessarily learn all of the words in their
"cultural context". As a result, He might mistakenly believe that 
a word or phrase has been mis-translated, or mis-interpreted. This
is the ever-present danger of allowing individuals in the faith to 
take liberty with translations or translating Baha'i texts. And this
is why, I believe that the House is very careful, when translating 
any Baha'i Text. 

 In Friendship,

 Mike





From nima@unm.eduSat Sep  9 00:06:54 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 21:32:15 -0600 (MDT)
From: Sadra 
To: Christopher Buck 
Cc: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Is Quddus a Manifestation?

Dear Chris--

What's going on?! You wrote *exactly* what I was thinking, especially the 
Quddus as the Babi Hallaj part. This is the second time this has happened 
in the last month (first with Juan, now with you) - are we all tapped into 
some common astral plane or something :-)

  I'd be lying if I didn't say I was more than a bit intrigued by this 
whole topic of Babi shathiyyat (words of ecstatsy) and Quddus as a silent 
Manifestation. OTOH, a case could also be made for Tahirih. Remember her 
dismissive remarks to Quddus at Badasht - she did say her maqAm (station) 
was higher than his. Btw, has anybody noticed how Isma'ili this whole 
Quddus/Tahirih phenomenon is. I'm thinking of the natiq/samit issue. Any 
thoughts?

Nima
---


From jrcole@umich.eduSat Sep  9 00:11:09 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 23:45:24 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: women's rights in the Baha'i Faith


Several correspondents have asked for clarification with regard to my 
equation of gender and race as bases for discrimination.

The problem with civil rights thought from Locke through Jefferson is 
precisely that they prescribed *civil* rather than *human* rights.  Civil 
rights are contractual and pertain to adult, free, propertied white 
males (in their unstated schema of social categorization).  Other 
categories of human being--slaves, non-whites, women, 
laborers, and the property-less were not extended these rights because 
they lacked the civil standing for them in the eyes of the theorists 
(Locke actually somewhere writes as an example "Man is white"!)  Although 
this Liberal tradition extended more rights to more people than was the 
case earlier on, these rights derived from certain statuses.

*Human* rights is a nineteenth-century invention, in which it is argued 
that rights derive not from status but from basic humanity.  Thus, women 
should have the right to vote because they are human; slavery is 
incompatible with the idea of human rights and the abolitionists fought 
it on that basis.

I read `Abdu'l-Baha's statement, which Chris Buck quoted from PUP (9 June 
1912), that the seventh principle of Baha'u'llah is equality of rights 
and that all humans are alike in the eyes of God--I read this statement 
as an endorsement of *human* rights.

Now, we speak of "removing the voting rights" of a Baha'i for certain 
actions.  We are saying that voting in Baha'i elections is a right.  
Clearly it would be wrong to deprive an adult Baha'i in good standing of 
the right to vote on the basis of sex, race, language, national origin, etc.

Eligibility to serve on Baha'i institutions is also a right.  No Baha'i 
has a right to serve per se, but every adult Baha'i in good standing has 
a right to be *eligible* to serve on every Baha'i institution but one.

I see the exclusion of women from the Universal House of Justice as the 
denial to a class of human beings of a human right on the basis of an 
ascribed status (gender).  I do not see in what way this exclusion is 
morally different from excluding a particular race, ethnic or linguistic 
group, or other category of persons from eligibility.

How would most of those on Talisman feel if the constitutions of their 
countries denied to women the right to serve as president, prime 
minister, or on the cabinet?  Let us say women had the vote, and could 
serve in the legislature and the judiciary, even be ambassadors.  But 
they could not serve in the highest executive positions in the state.  
Would this be equitable?  Could it be excused on the grounds that a 
particular people has the right to configure gender roles as they please?
(Incidentally, the example is not absurd; this is essentially the case 
in contemporary Iran de jure, and de facto in the Arab world). Is such a 
situation compatible with `Abdu'l-Baha's identification in 
*Baha'u'llah's* writings of a Baha'i *principle* of "equality of rights"? "All humans are alike in the eyes of God.  Their rights are one; no one has any 
superiority over others.  All are under the divine Law."  (PUP 182, my 
translation).

A right of eligibility is different from a right to hold an office per 
se.  But eligibility for office is a right, and in a community based upon 
consultation it ought to be a universal right.

Whatever the origins of or reasons for the current system (and I myself 
think they are clearly rooted in Middle Eastern patriarchy and gender 
segregation), the results are discriminatory, and are contrary to the 
Seventh essential Principle of Baha'u'llah.

Now, I anticipate some attempts to fog over the issues by denying that 
eligibility to serve on the Universal House of Justice is a right.  Some 
will say it is a privilege, for instance.  But then why is this privilege 
extended to some rather than others?  The issue of fairness will not go 
away through verbal pyrotechnics.

As for those who maintain that the Baha'i Faith is set in stone, and you 
just have to accept it all the way it is, I don't know *where* in the 
world they got that idea.  Baha'u'llah's whole stated reason for 
instituting a Universal House of Justice was to allow the religion to 
change to meet new circumstances and avoid the rigidity of past 
religions.  Human beings seem so set in their ways, though, that they are 
intent on recreating Orthodox Judaism or Ultramontane Catholicism or 
Shi`ite Islam under a Baha'i guise and throwing out Baha'u'llah's counsel 
of flexibility as inconceivable.  If Corinne True had thought like some 
posters here, women might have been excluded from LSAs and NSAs, for 
heaven's sake.

Baha'is are therefore caught between a Baha'i *principle* of equal human 
rights for all, and a set of contradictory and changing instructions from 
`Abdu'l-Baha regarding institutional specifics.  Why is it that the 
principle (also enunciated by `Abdu'l-Baha, with far more consistency) 
does not have standing in this discussion?  Is integrity or consistency 
in Baha'i law completely unimportant?

`Abdu'l-Baha said that the wisdom of the exclusion would become clear to 
all in the future.  However, logically speaking there are two possible 
sorts of reason that might become clear.  One sort would justify 
continued exclusion of women (e.g. milk glands interfere with the 
reception of divine radio waves).  But another sort would be contingent.
For instance, we know that Shoghi Effendi did not have the Universal 
House of Justice elected in his lifetime because the communities in 
Soviet Central Asia would not have been able to vote.  This points to a 
principle of corporate inclusion.  What if it would have been unfair to 
have a House 
of Justice with women on it in `Abdu'l-Baha's lifetime because they 
largely lacked even the vote, were in world terms largely illiterate, and 
only a very small minority had the experience in public life to serve?  
What if it would only be fair for women to be eligible if they had a 
tradition of public service, the civil vote, and were on the whole educated?
And what if in 50 years they will have in world terms crossed that 
crucial corporate-gender threshhold and become eligible?


Until then, Eric Blair, a.k.a George Orwell, said it best.  Some animals are 
more equal than others.


cheers  Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan

From shastri@best.comSat Sep  9 00:11:56 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 20:53:51 -0700
From: Shastri Purushotma 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Messengers with Imposture????????

" Quddus, immortalized by Him as Ismu'llahi'l-Akhir (the
Last Name of God); on whom Baha'u'llah's Tablet of Kullu't-Ta'am
later conferred the sublime appellation of Nuqtiy-i-Ukhra (the Last
Point); whom He elevated, in another Tablet, to a rank second to
none except that of the Herald of His Revelation; whom He identifies,
in still another Tablet, with one of the "Messengers charged
with imposture" mentioned in the Qur'an; whom the Persian Bayan
extolled as that fellow-pilgrim round whom mirrors to the number of
eight Vahids revolve; on whose "detachment and the sincerity of whose
devotion to God's will God prideth Himself amidst the Concourse on
high;" whom Abdu'l-Baha designated as the "Moon of Guidance;"
and whose appearance the Revelation of St. John the Divine anticipated
as one of the two "Witnesses" into whom, ere the "second woe
is past," the "spirit of life from God" must enter - such a man had,
in the full bloom of his youth, suffered, in the Sabzih-Maydan of
Barfurush, a death which even Jesus Christ, as attested by Baha'u'llah,
had not faced in the hour of His greatest agony. " 
(God Passes By, pages  49- 50)

What does a "Messenger charged with imposture" mean????

I'll try to do cross referencing in Quran ... anyone
have any other clues?????


From brburl@mailbag.comSat Sep  9 16:26:27 1995
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 23:34:10 -0500
From: Bruce Burrill 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Buddhist/Baha'i Unity

Steven,

Let me pick up on a few things here and there in your long msg to me.

> "I do not think that unity of religions in the Baha'i writings means unity
of doctrine or unity of belief." <

I agree with that. When Baha'u'llah says, "uttering the same speech, and
proclaiming the same Faith," this what I want to explore. What does this
mean in terms of Buddhism and in terms of the Buddha, for example?

> 'It does
not do any good to say, "Buddhism teaches rebirth, Western religions do not.
There can only be one right answer here. It is an either/or situation." What
this does is stop the dialogue as both camps will fall back into their own
traditions and holy books without having to go through any uncomfortable
and
messy matters such as change and growth. In a recent post, Juan nicely
formulated one Baha'i approach to religious diversity: that religious truth is
not an either/or affair and that for Baha'u'llah two different and apparently
conflicting religous perspectives can both be true. I sense the Buddha smiling
in agreement with Baha'u'llah on this point.' <

Maybe. The fact of the matter, despite Hick's feel-good non-judgmental
inclusivism, is that Buddhism does teach rebirth as being how the universe
operates whereas the religions of the Book do not. Does that mean that we
must determine that this is simply some sort of symbolic language, though
that is hardly consistent with Buddhism, in order to talk with, in order to
understand each other? I don't think so.

> "Bruce, I still am not clear why this Baha'i view bothers you or seems
inadequate." <

One of the things that bothers me is popular level Baha'i on this subject.
What interests me here that there is a more sophisticated and mature approach
and understanding which I am willing to explore.

> "You seem persistent on going to specific points of doctrinal difference
and say that, thus, the Baha'i view of unity of religions is wrong." <

Did I say wrong? Nope. The specific doctrinal differences, such as the
Buddha's rejection of a creator god notion, points to the difficulty of the idea
of unity. 

What is this unity? What does it look like?

> "It also seems to me that you keep misstating the Baha'i
teachings on unity of religions by going back to a reference from the Kitab-i
Iqan on the unity of the *founders* of religions and interpreting it to say that
it means that the historical religions must all be in conformity of belief." <

I never said that, ever. But it is the lack of conformity that raises the
question
of what is this unity.

> "what I hear you saying is that this quote from Baha'u'llah claims that
there is unity of religious teachings across time and civilizations" <

No. Again, "uttering the same speech, proclaiming the same Faith" has to
mean something. And to be obnoxiously repetitive, what does this mean in
terms of the differences, how are the differences to be understood? The
Baha'i claim to unity is not at all obvious.

> "We disagree with you that such differences mean that there is no basis
for Baha'i-Buddhist dialogue or that there cannot be complete harmony
between our faiths in the midst of our differences, including
the question of rebirth." <

I never said the difference meant there was no basis for dialogue. Harmony?
What does that mean, what does that look like?

> "Are you saying that you see no prospect for fruitful dialogue between
Buddhism and Western religions? That is what I hear between the
lines and I find this a frustrating position for a Buddhist to take! After all,
the teachings on rebirth have not kept the Dalai Lama from entering into
fruitful dialogue with theistic theologians of the West." <

Do you think that the Dalai Lama would regard rebirth as mere symbolic
speech, a sort of metaphor? Hardly, hardly, hardly.

Understand that when I point to doctrines that differ markedly from Baha'i,
it is for no other reason than to explore how this question of unity works. In
the real world with real religions religious truth claims that are at great
variance with each other are made. Also, I am doing no more than presenting
basic Buddhist beliefs about what the Buddha taught and what the world looks
like through his teachings.

> "What interfaith dialogue requires is (1) a recognition of differences that
may be threatening to my belief system; but (2) trust that these differences
are not hostile in nature; (3) that a sincere engagement with another believer's
differing religious worldview holds potential for expansion of horizons; (4)
that to be honest to myself I must also present my beliefs to the dialogue that
may confront my dialogue partner with a similar discomfort." <

I certainly agree, and in presenting Buddhist beliefs as they are, I am not
trying to be hostile. I think your four points are quite correct.

> "And yet, (allow me to repeat myself) Buddhist teachings on rebirth seem
as mythopoeic and unfounded as any Western teaching (Baha'i included) on
the soul and afterlife. My argument is that both the teachings of the Buddha
and Baha'u'llah on the soul are only differing ways at describing processes
that are beyond verification and falsification. They are myths in the truest and
most profound sense of the word myth. And they are not mutually
exclusive." <

Well, yes and no. Abdu'l Baha and Shogi Effendi both rejected
rebirth/reincarnation as being not the way the universe works. Is it because
rebirth and one life are beyond verification that you claim they are not
mutually exclusive? If you are going to engage another's world view, is it
appropriate to assume it is mythopoeic rather than a description of how things
are?

> "I will reiterate for emphasis: this account of the Buddhist teaching on
rebirth
is beyond verification or falsification as a religious teaching." <

The Buddhist don't think so.

> "This makes as much sense and non-sense to me as Western notions of
where the hell our souls come from and where they go at death." <

Despite the fact that you grant a profoundness to what you see as a mythic
aspect to the Buddhist teaching of rebirth, you are in effect refusing to deal
with the teaching of rebirth as Buddhist themselves belief and understand it.
Do you see my criticism here? This is an important point. Before we start
reducing things to a Hickian "linguistic pictures or maps" (or language
games), we need to understand what it is that is being said, and as much as
possible on term is it is being said.

> "But Bruce, I still do not see how two differing religious myths of the
afterlife/rebirth issue that are beyond falsification seem to you to be a matter
for determining whether one tradition is true and another false." <

Doing a Hicks on differing religious traditions may save us from determining
that one tradition is true and the other false, but I have to wonder if then
something gets lost.

> "Juan and other Baha'is have noted that there is perhaps unity at the level
of spiritual experience and mystical insight, to which you also seem
skeptical." <

Somewhat skeptical. Is it open to verification or falsification?

> "I think that our unity of religious experiences may be rooted in our
common humanity." <

Certainly a lot of it in common humanity. 

> "Would it help if I posted excerpts from Izutsu's comparative studies on
this point?" <

Certainly. I don't know him, but sure, let's take a look.

> "Which leads me to wonder, how can a Buddhist-Baha'i dialogue move
along constructively? I would think an examiniation of specific teachings
based on texts would be fruitful. Perhaps we could move the discussion along
by posting specific texts and commentaries on rebirth or spiritual 
practices." <

Moojan has posted a comparative look at the Four Noble Truths. That can be
a good place to start.

Please don't misunderstand my reluctance to see the harmony that you might
see as being painfully obvious. For me it isn't obvious. Am I trying to make
your task hard. Yep, I am a little bit, because an easily obtained harmony is
all too often obtained at some unnecessary expense.

Bruce


From sbedin@gov.nt.caSat Sep  9 16:26:48 1995
Date: Fri, 08 Sep 1995 22:57:30 MDT
From: Stephen R Bedingfield 
To: rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.com
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Fadil-i Mazandarani (was The Station of Quddus)

Ahang-jan,

In a posting on Quddus you said, refering to Fadil-i Mazandarani:

> To make a long story short, I've traced the rumor to the Hand of 
> the Cause of God, Fadil-i Mazandarani. 

and again:

> (he even didn't tell Mr. Furutan 
> or anyone else that he, that is, Fadil, was elevated to the rank 
> of the Hand of the Cause much earlier than Furutan ... 

Pray tell, where are there references that Fadil-i Mazandarani was a
Hand of the Cause.  He is not on any of the listings that I have seen:
Baha'i World Volume 13, Dhikru'llah Khadem's "Service at the Threshold" in
"The Vision of Shoghi Effendi", and so on...
 
stephen

--
Stephen R Bedingfield             


From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comSat Sep  9 16:28:27 1995
Date: Fri, 08 Sep 95 18:53:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Quddus -- part 4

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   Hello everyone, its me again and ready to do a bit more on the 
   station of Quddus and some references to Him.
   
   I thought if there was an interest, after we've considered 
   some Tablets by Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha about His rank, 
   then we do a bit in terms of survey of His life.  So far, 
   we've kept the discussion pretty low-tech as its best not to 
   let folks get bored with heavy-duty Text analysis stuff.
   
   OK, here we go...
   
   Previously, we noted that Quddus, much the same way as 
   Baha'u'llah and the Bab, is a historic Figure that has been 
   mentioned in all the previous Dispensations.  He even said so 
   Himself.
   
   (Homework for interested parties:  What are some of the 
   prophecies about Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi from the 
   Sacred Scripture of the past?  Very much interested in hearing 
   your thoughts.  There are amazing stuff out there about these 
   Two Figures, too...)
   
   We then talked briefly about what the Bab said about Him.  On 
   purpose, we kept it short for now but when we talk about 
   Quddus' life, perhaps we can dial in some more of such 
   materials.
   
   Last thing we were talking about was the Writings of Quddus at 
   Badasht.  (How the heck did we get on that subject?  Well, too 
   late now, let's role with the punches ...)
   
   There is a Tablet from Baha'u'llah that very roughly says:  
   
        Jinab-i Quddus, Wrote a number during our stay at Badasht 
        and send them out.  This servant was not involved with 
        them.  Of the things written, He foretold of this 
        (Baha'u'llah's) wondrous Cause  -- directly, not by 
        allusions.  Exalted be His utterance:  'When the Lord 
        stealthily appears over the Horizon of Baha, on earth 
        this brilliant and evident Countenance is manifest from 
        the point of Baha.  At that time, will raise new heavens 
        with wondrous pens.  This is Our command to dwellers of 
        the most exalted Concourse (`Ama), those that have been 
        enlightened.'  These Tablets are now available and are 
        all about this Cause in the most evident Words.
        
   What I understand out of this Tablet is that Baha'u'llah is 
   referring to a number of Tablets from Quddus Written during 
   the Badasht period (to be published in the forthcoming book on 
   Quddus) which in a most direct manner tell about Baha'u'llah's 
   eminent declaration -- by Name!  
   
   What is also marvelous about this passage which Baha'u'llah 
   quotes is Quddus' reference to "new heavens with wondrous 
   pens", which I take to be an allusion to the true scholars of 
   the Cause -- and please note that the language used in this 
   regard is extremely close to what Baha'u'llah uses in the 
   Kitab-i Aqdas when He refers to such scholars, "... stars of 
   the heaven of understanding ...".
   
   I should mention, there are other statements that totally blow 
   me away every time I read them which are characterizations of 
   Baha'u'llah by Quddus.  In a language totally on its own 
   plane, Quddus talks about the Station of Baha'u'llah.  Stuff 
   one has never heard before!!  Language so sublime, its really 
   overwhelming;  the most exciting things one has ever seen.  
   These are the sort of things that confirms ones belief and 
   enable us to reach new heights of appreciation for the 
   exalted, nay, the supreme character of this Dispensation.  
   
   We must have some of these Writings of Quddus about 
   Baha'u'llah here on Talisman.  But, all in good time ... 
   
   And if you think that is amazing, wait till we have passages 
   from Quddus about Abdu'l-Baha!!
   
   If you ever thought that Tablet of Branch or Tablet to the 
   Land of Ba was incredible in what they said about the Master, 
   well, folks, you ain't seen nothing yet!  And Quddus wrote 
   these things about Abdu'l-Baha when the Master must of been 
   only about 2 or possibly 3 years old!  In a little boy of that 
   age, Quddus, with His Divine foresight, recognized the unique 
   and wondrous station of the Master.  Wait till we get to 
   Quddus' travels to Tihran (after His pilgrimage) and then 
   we'll have these passages.  OK?
   
   Anyway, I really got off track in this posting.  I meant to 
   share some extracts from Baha'u'llah's Tablets about Quddus.  
   
   To make it up to you, permit me to share a true jewel.  This 
   is an extract from Baha'u'llah commentary on the Light Verse 
   in my extremely inadequate rendering:
   
         Know thou, the first One that we sent unto you is the 
         One that appeared above the Horizon of Fars (ie. the 
         Bab) and Revealed unto Him, under the shadow of spirits, 
         from the Exalted and Resplendent Heaven.  The Last One 
         that we sent, was like Him.  On the Concourse on High we 
         called Him:  Quddus.  If thou art of those endowed with 
         understanding.  We have Graced Them Both with this 
         Beauty (Baha'u'llah), Who appeared in truth and 
         manifests above the Horizon of God's commands as an 
         Omnipotent King.
         
   I think this passage is relatively straight forward.  Let me 
   just note that the reference to Quddus as the "Last One" 
   recalls to mind the sweet melodies heard many years earlier 
   from the Tablet of All Food when Baha'u'llah says:
   
         ... if the Last Point, the countenance of my beloved 
         Quddus, was present, He would grieve over My condition 
         and lament on what has befallen Me....
         
   Of course, as everyone recalls, the appellations "Last Point" 
   needs to be understood in contrast to the "Primal Point", the 
   Bab.  In other words, together They constitute the Alpha and 
   Omega of the Babi Dispensation. 
   
   OK, let's do one more quotation and then call it quits for 
   tonight.
   
   Baha'u'llah in the long Fasting Prayer (which I don't believe 
   is available in English), says to the effect: 
   
         O My Lord, thy praise be upon Him Who is the Last One to 
         be sent down, Whose essence is the same as His (the 
         Bab's) essence, and His manifestation is the same as His 
         manifestation, only that He acquired His radiance from 
         Him and prostrated Himself before Him and testified to 
         His own servitude...
         
   Unfortunately, the English language, or at least my poor 
   command of it, does not allow us to fully appreciate the 
   elegance of Baha'u'llah's majestic prose, but nonetheless we 
   gain a glimpse that He is stating:  Quddus and the Bab are of 
   the same essence with Quddus operating under the shadow and 
   the Will of the Bab, as the latter is the unquestioned 
   Authority for His Dispensation -- all others are servants unto 
   Him.
   
   Wow!!  The significance of these passages, I think, is 
   gradually beginning to sink in.   Here we have this Figure, 
   anticipated in all the past Dispensations and, in the words of 
   Baha'u'llah, ranks as a Manifestation of God and yet operates 
   under the shadow of the Bab!  The point of all this, I 
   believe, is to help us understand the exalted station of the 
   Bab -- Who ranks so supreme that His chief disciple Himself 
   has such an enormous station!  
   
   I think in many ways, all of these statements about Quddus, 
   are meant to underscore the incredible, the unthinkable 
   station of the Bab!
   
   (more to follow)
   
   lovingly, ahang.
   
   
   ps.  I just read Chris' perceptive question.  Wish I had a 
   good answer for him.  He knows so much more about all of 
   these.  But tomorrow will do my best to offer a few comments.
   
   pss.  I also read Nima's posting about Tahirih.  Let me just 
   say that all this stuff about a rife between Quddus and 
   Tahirih at Badasht is as bogus as a $3. bill!  I'll prove it 
   based on the Writings of Tahirih and Quddus.  Shoghi Effendi 
   is absolutely right on this issue -- and MacEoin/Amanat dead 
   wrong.  Stay toned.  Now we're getting to the interesting 
   stuff...  Oh, yes, we'll have some fun now ... 

From ahmada@acsusun.acsu.unsw.edu.auSat Sep  9 16:34:19 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 17:05:45 +1000 (EST)
From: Ahmad Aniss 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Ahang's postings on Quddus

Dear Friends,
Dear Ahang,

Thank you for the information regarding my question.
I am reading the postings of Ahang with great interest.
Please continue to do so with permission from others.
These postings show how important is our Faith and
how noble this Dispensation is.


With Baha'i Love,
Ahmad.

From LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduSat Sep  9 16:37:43 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 95 09:38:16 EWT
From: LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.edu
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: women on UHJ

Dear Talismanians, John has forwarded me several postings from Talisman
recently.  I see the women on UHJ issue has heated up again and that there was
a plea for more female voices on the issue.  He also forwarded to me the
message from the "feminist" from another Baha'i discussion group stating why
she did not think it was important for women to be on the House.  I will now
sit on my hands for a few moments so as to prevent me from typing my reaction
to this message.  No doubt if I did tell my true thoughts, I would be receiving
flames forevermore.  I will just make one teeny comment:  in every religious
tradition women think their "priests" are "different" from other men.  Catholic
women love their priests and I commonly see Muslim women hanging on every word
of their mullas or sheikhs.  Women generally buy into their cultures no matter
how much they are discriminated against.  What else are they to do?  
	I think I have heard all the arguments against women on the UHJ that
could possibly be made.  Women are tied to their childrearing duties and
couldn't spare the time.  Putting men and women together for such long periods
of time would be too much sexual temptation.  Women are emotional:  hormones,
don't you know?  Never mind that by the time a person is deemed mature enough
to serve on this body, they don't have roaring hormones and young children. 
Then, of course, there is the argument that in the M.E., Muslims couldn't bear
to see women in powerful positions and this would cause the ire of the people. 
Oddly enough, just this past weekend I heard an Iraqi cleric chiding Shi'i
women for not being at the forefront of issues, publicly speaking out, etc. 
While many factors hold back women in the M.E., I really don't think that riots
would have occurred if women were serving on the UHJ.  Besides, the UHJ is in
Israel.  What arguments are left?  I  have never heard one of them that sounded
at all logical in view of what we know about the capabilities of men and women. 
O.k., so now you are all thinking about this latest study showing that men are
more likely to be geniuses than are women.  Well, is it a requirement that men
on the UHJ be geniuses.  I have never heard of any of them spoken of as such. 
So, what is left?
	The only thing left is an appeal to something outside of logic.  We are
admonished to have faith.  No women on the House - this is the decision.  Be
content with it.  Yet, even those who obediently follow on the basis of faith
always seem to feel compelled to come up with some "reason."  Time and again I
find some rationalization of this decision, such as the comment that men on the
UHJ are "different" from other men.  (Good lord!)
	So, where do we go now?  It might be assumed that in ten or twenty
years men who are accustomed to having to deal with women on a more equal
footing will be elected to the UHJ.  From my experience, I would predict that
they would feel ridiculous trying to justify keeping women off the UHJ. 
However, even they will have a problem.  It is the one that I believe Sen
raised - how on earth will they change the ruling without making their
predecessors look foolish or worse?  That, I think, is when the discussions on
Talisman will come in very handy.  I think it is well worthwhile to debate this
issue. Perhaps in the future, if we do have men around that can't quite get why
they are not sharing power with women, they will have at hand the ammunition
needed to change this ruling.  
	As for women who do not see this ruling as being oppressive and
humiliating to women, I wish they would open their eyes to the world around
them, read a little history, reflect a little bit on the condition of women in
the world.  Until we are in the highest positions of power, nothing substantial
will ever be changed.  If women had not been in the U.S. Senate and House of
Reps., Bob Packwood would still be thrusting his fat tongue into his female
aides' mouths and getting away with it.   Again, though, women are so
accustomed to having a secondary role in the world that it is difficult for
many to see things in any other way.
	I am sorry if all this has been said before.  John just told me that
there were lots of postings on the issue and that he had not forwarded them to
me.  I just asked him to sign me on again.  Linda


From burlb@bmi.netSat Sep  9 16:38:15 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 95 09:27 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
To: LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.edu
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: women on UHJ

L. Walbridge wrote:

 " Until we are in the highest positions of power....."


  This is the telling phrase.

  Highest position? Power?  What are the motives of those who seek "high
positions"?
  What are the motives of those who seek "power"?
  
   Perhaps I have misunderstood the teachings of the Baha'i Faith more than
most, but I was always taught that there were no positions of "Power", let
alone "Higher Positions of Power" in the Baha'i Faith.  Especially not as
1/9th of One Mind submissive to God when that One Mind only exists between
two prayers -- the opening prayer of the meeting and the closing prayer of
the meeting.  The Greatest Holy Leaf administered the affairs of the Cause
-- one woman dedicated to the Faith who's will was submerged to that of the
Blessed Perfection.  I have yet to read anything of her delight in being in
what someone must imagine to be "The Highest Position of Power."  Ahmad
Sohrab wanted a high position of power; Shoghi Effendi fled in despair to
the mountains of Switzerland rather than accept the crushing burdon of the
Guardianship.  Sohrab wanted the "high position of power" he imagined
occupied by Shoghi Effendi --  Abdul Baha never even used his bestowed
worldly title of Sir Abbas Effendi -- his 'glory' was as Abdul-Baha.  Our
writings tell us that Kings and Queens will only accept the burdons of
Royalty to serve God, and would rather not wear the crown.  Baha'u'llah
Himself confirms that had it been up to Him, he would never had even told
anyone about His Revelation.  Was Mirza Hussain Ali in the "highest position
of power" in the Baha'i Faith, or was he courser than clay?

Let's ask ourselves:

Do I want to be elected to the Universal House of Justice?
Do I want to be elected to the National Spritual Assembly?
Do I want to be elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly

Why?

High position? Power? 

May God spare me from such desires. 

If you or I desire a High Position of Power -- be we male, female, or
undecided -- we will *never* find it in the Baha'i Faith.

One sincere believer, alone, with their heart on fire with love for
Baha'ullah can prevail although all the world be against them.  Why?  What
manner of "power" makes that possible?

Just thoughts for thinking.

Love,

Burl
  

 



From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comSat Sep  9 16:41:36 1995
Date: Sat, 09 Sep 95 13:05:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Rumi and a bit on Quddus ...

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Beloved Everyone,

Last night, our good friend Shastri wrote that he recalled some 
Tablet of the Master about Rumi to the effect that although Rumi 
wan't a Manifestation but his Mathnavi has the same effect as the 
Revealed Word.  As I am not familiar with this Tablet, if anyone 
knows a reference, please ....

In clearning up my directories this morning I noted that a 
similar issue was raised by Brent a few months back.  Back then 
Brent was looking for the source of a Hadith reportedly quoted by 
Abdu'l-Baha which says because of Rumi the Islamic Dispensation 
instead of half day (500 years) survived for a full day (1000 
years).  In reply on Feb 5th I wrote:

> Dear Brent:

> Mirza Abu'l-Fadl in his masterpiece, "Far`id", quotes a Haidth 
> attributed to Muhammad, and as such known as Hadith-i-Nabavi.  
> (Science of Hadith is a fairly complex topic and among other 
> things seeks to categorize all the Traditions.  Two categories 
> are of particular importance, Hadith-i Nabavi, which are sayings 
> of the Prophet and Hadith-i Qudsi, which are the statements of 
> God Revealed to Muhammad but are not part of Qur'an.  An example 
> of the latter is the famous tradition, "I was a Hidden 
> Treasure...", which Abdu'l-Baha revealed His most incredible 
> commentary when He was between 12-14 years old -- others have 
> claimed that He was older when He revealed it, but this is not 
> so.)

> This famous Hadith goes:  "An salahat ummati filha yuman.  Va 
> an fusadat filha nisfi yum".  Translation:  "If my people remain 
> righteous they will last one Day (1000 years) and if they become 
> degenerate will last one-half day (500 years).

> So far we are on solid ground, as the authority of Mirza 
> Abu'l-Fadl (which if I recall correctly give his source anyway -- 
> I can check Far'id later) is beyond questioning.

> Every Persian friend that you ever meet will tell you that they 
> have heard that Abdu'l-Baha has also quoted this Hadith, 
> presumably in one of His Talks, and has stated that despite the 
> condition of Muslims and because of the appearance of Jalalid-Din 
> Rumi, Islam was granted its full duration.

> I have never been able to locate a pilgrim note that actually 
> captures this comment by the Master.

> In my opinion, it's very likely that Abdu'l-Baha has said 
> something to this effect and that's why it has spread so widely 
> among Persian believers.  There are other supportive evidences:

> 1.  Abdu'l-Baha was a great admirer of Rumi.  So was Baha'u'llah.

> 2.  Abdu'l-Baha often quotes from Rumi in His Tablets.  For 
> example, He was always heard repeating the famous lines "Ay Ishq 
> manam az to, sar kashtih vu gumrahi ...".  This seems to be the 
> favorite poem of the Master.  (Baha'u'llah also quotes this poem 
> in a Tablet to a certain Shaykh Isma'il.) 

> 3.  The influence of Rumi on the moral and spiritual education of 
> Iran and that region is absolutely unique.  No one else (I dare 
> say, not even Islam) has been able to bring about the spiritual 
> transformation in the character of Persians that Rumi was able 
> to.

> 4.  By far, the vast majority of Baha'is of Iran found their way 
> to the Faith through the poetry and influence of Rumi.  (My own 
> grandfather, a firm Zoroastrian, accepted Baha'u'llah through the 
> statements found in "Divan Shaykh Tabriz".  So I will eternally 
> remain grateful and in love with Rumi.)  The Faith of Baha'u'llah 
> has not had a greater teacher than Rumi -- with the notable 
> exception of Abdu'l-Baha himself.

> 5.  One night, in the course of his table talks, the Guardian 
> discussed the countering influence of Sa'di and Rumi.  Sa'di, in 
> words of Shoghi Effendi, was a person who did not understand the 
> importance of "staying true to the principles".  He then quoted 
> Sa'di's famous line ("a durgh maslihat amiz, bih az rasti fitnih 
> angiz" -- a lie in good intention is better than a seditious 
> truth) and said that this one line destroyed the entire moral 
> fiber of the Persian society.  He went on then and greatly 
> praised Rumi for his spiritual insights and ethical and moral 
> education of man.

> So, Brent, I suppose this posting solved only half of the puzzle 
> and gave you the Hadith about half-day business.  The second 
> half, namely, source for Abdu'l-Baha's comment, remains to be 
> unearthed.

> lovingly, ahang.


Also while deleting stuff this moring I came up this posting from Feb 
6th (my birthday!) and because of its association with both Rumi and 
Quddus, decided to share it again.  Hope you'll enjoy it again as much 
as you did the first time!


> Dear Friends:

> All this talk about Rumi made me think of a bit of trivia about 
> Rumi which I share for what's worth ....

> As you remember, Quddus left Shiraz along with Mulla Sadiq 
> Khurasani after being severely beaten and persecuted.  They 
> traveled South for a few days and then parted company.  Mulla 
> Sadiq went towards Yazd and Quddus proceeded to Kirman. 

> Nabil hints that the purpose of Quddus' journey was to acquaint 
> Haj Karim Khan with the message of the Bab.  No doubt this is 
> true.  But I think Quddus had a plan "B" which was even more 
> important.  The clever fellow that he was, he knew full well that 
> Haji Karim Khan (whom Baha'u'llah says is referred to 3 times in 
> Qur'an -- which gives him the unique distinction of being 
> mentioned negatively in 3 separate Dispensations!) would not 
> accept the Faith.

> What his plan "B" was to win over Aqa Siyyid Javad Kirmani to the 
> Faith.  This Siyyid Javad is actually a cousin of the Bab and was 
> the highest ranking Shi'ih clergy in Kirman.  (The Bab had 
> another cousin, Mirzayi-Shirazi, which years later was elevated 
> to the highest rank of Shi'ih hierarchy and was also secretly a 
> believer in both the Bab and Baha'u'llah.  Another relative of 
> the Bab, Aqa Mirza Aqa-yi Nur'd-Din had a long interview with him 
> and found out how for some 2 decades he has been stealthily 
> protecting Baha'is.)  Aqa Siyyid Javad was not only a very 
> important religious figure, and an admirer of Shaykh Ahamd and 
> Siyyid Kazim, but was also politically a very powerful man.  To 
> the point that Haj Karim Khan's father, the ruthless and vicious 
> Ibrahim Khan-i Zahiru'd-Dawlih, never messed with him.

> Anyway, Siyyid Javad used to teach a course of study that was 
> extremely popular.  Students from all regions of country would 
> come to his class.  For example, Mulla Hadi Sabzivari who is one 
> the greatest philosophers of modern times, and mentioned by 
> Baha'u'llah in His Tablet of Wisdom, traveled on foot to Kirman 
> to attend his class.  On hearing that the class was full, he 
> became a janitor for the school, married the daughter of the 
> custodian of the school, only so that he could hear the lectures 
> of Siyyid Javad!!

> Siyyid Javad's course would run for 6 month.  He would start on 
> the first day of the fall and conclude on the eve of NawRuz.

> He would start his course, day one, with reading the first two 
> lines of Rumi's Mathnavi:

> "Bishnu az nay chun hikayat mikunad, az judayiha shikayat mikunad 
> ..."

> He would then spend this entire 6 months in explaining just the 2 
> opening verses of Rumi -- and that's what made his course so 
> unique and special so that great scholars would come to learn 
> from him.

> Incidentally, this cousin of the Bab, remained faithful to Him 
> and protected the believers of Kirman from Haj Karim Khan and 
> later of his son, Haj Muhammad Khan.  He has a most fascinating 
> life.  I've been able to piece together a fairly complete 
> biography of him.

> While we are on trivia, here is another one:  Baha'u'llah once 
> observed that Nabil has said more poetry than any other person, 
> including the author of Mathnavi (ie. Rumi).  He then went on to 
> say that not only Nabil has surpassed Rumi in volume, but that 
> his influence would outshine Rumi's.

> What I get out of this statement of Baha'u'llah is that 
> millenniums after Rumi has been reduced to just a footnote in 
> history books, Nabil's narrative would continue to edify and 
> inspire humanity.

> Forgive me for taking your time with a bit of trivia ....

> lovingly, ahang.


Periodically, I get called upon to do various deepening classes and 
often I get assigned maybe 2 hours and they say:  "tell us about the 
Writings of the Bab!"  Or they give me 4 days at some summer school 
and say, "Talk about the Kitab-i Aqdas."  At such times, I am reminded  
of the story of Siyyid Javad and how he would spend 6 months on the 
first 2 lines of Mathnavi, but in these days people expect to learn 
all there is about the Kitab-i Aqdas in 4 days!  Or to master the 
Revelation of the Bab in 2 hours!  It's interesting times that we live 
in ...

best wishes, ahang.

From haukness@tenet.eduSat Sep  9 16:42:14 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 14:34:05 -0500 (CDT)
From: John Haukness 
To: Juan R Cole 
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: women's rights in the Baha'i Faith

Allah-u-abha Friends: Juan's post is well written and I will try to 
produce a counter point worthy of his posting. I think the issue of 
different roles and functions of the genders comes across in the Aqdas 
concerning divorce and inheritance, in regards to divorce, I feel if men 
used the roles and functions are the same logic, then men would have a 
right to feel we are in need of a more clever interptitation to reverse 
what appears to be a male handicap. On this issue, I wonder if any would 
like to comment positively (I am sure negative rebuttals can be devised 
to match) that in the lives of Bahiyyuh Khanum, Abdul Baha and Shoghi 
Effendi, in the way they lived together and served their Father and 
mother, and the Faith together, we can get just a glimpse of these subtle 
differences of role and function, not of two sexes competing but of them 
as helpmates of the other. Has anyone else thought of this, just curious.


haukness@tenet.edu


From brburl@mailbag.comSat Sep  9 17:10:42 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 15:49:55 -0500
From: Bruce Burrill 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Buddhist/Baha'i Unity

At 03:03 PM 9/9/95 -0500, you wrote:
>Allah-u-abha Friends: In her book The Chinese Religion and the Bahai 
>Faith, Lian Chew states"Longh agoe the Chinese peasants realized the 
>oneness of all beneath Heaven, nature as seen in the forests, the stars, 
>the ocean and humankind." She fakes a footnote from Chuang-tzu of the 
>"sage originates nothing; that is to say, they merely contemplate the 
>universe." She goes on to compare this with the Bahai notion of "all 
>beings are connected together."  I hesitate to go into semantics of 
>deeper levels of philosphical differences, although I see no problem in 
>doing so, I see that going on in the writing world all the time, indeed 
>it seems to be the primus modis opperatus method of doing business now a 
>days. Never the less, Baha'is hardly have only one voice on complex 
>issues such as rebirth or unity, I hardly believe anyone can really 
>believe, as divirse of thought Buddhism has become in our era, that 
>people will advance that Buddhists thing this way or that about any 
>complex issue, instead what can say is the school of Buddhist thought on 
>an issue of rebirth leans more predominant to one way than another. When 
>we want to talk about differences between the Baha'i Faith and Buddhism I 
>continue to ask which Buddhism, which century, which school of thought, 
>the Dali Lama, the Hsiao-ching, Chung Yung, Mencius, Li chi, I Ching? I 
>don't think this can go anywhere, but then I don't think secular humanism 
>can go anywhere either. So why is the Buddhist era over, as I've said 
>because Buddha said so, can I prove this, well the problem is when one 
>posts that Buddha say's this or that about rebirth, or unity, they, like 
>me, to not have an original manuscript in hand, something we do have in 
>hand when talking about Bahaullah, which is something remarkable mankind 
>has never experienced before, so either the Baha'is are tricking people 
>with this play of convience, that we have the writings in His pen, in 
>hand, or Bahaullah is who He says he is, the return of Buddhism, of as 
>Abdul Baha states of Buddha and Confucius..."and their cycle is 
>completed." I am glad the hear that this is popular. Buenas Dias
>
>
>haukness@tenet.edu
>

In reading through this msg, I have to ask if for you is English not your
first language?

> "I hardly believe anyone can really believe, as divirse of thought
Buddhism has become in our era" <

Buddhism is certainly diverse. If you have been following what I have said
from the beginning you will see that I have limited the discussion of
Buddhism to primarily that as represented by the Pali texts and Theravada,
which is a reasonable thing to do. Just ask Moojan Momen. His book on
Buddhism is so limited, but the interesting thing is that even among wide
diversity of thought in the various Buddhist traditions, we can find a very
marked unity as we follow the development and progression of ideas.

> "So why is the Buddhist era over, as I've said because Buddha said so, can
I prove this," <

Please do, but then you were the one who referred to Baha'u'llah as the
fifth Buddha, with the Gotama Buddha being the first Buddha, and when asked
to discuss this fifth Buddha prophecy in detail you were unable to. But now
you can prove that the Buddhist era is over? Goodness.

> '...so either the Baha'is are tricking people with this play of convience,
that we have the writings in His pen, in hand, or Bahaullah is who He says
he is, the return of Buddhism, of as Abdul Baha states of Buddha and
Confucius..."and their cycle is completed."' <

Tricking people or true? Maybe they were just wrong. I appreciate your
response here because it is what I have all too often run into in the Baha'i
online world: fundamentalism, literalism and truimphalism. Hardly any room
in all of that for dialogue; rather, I should just sit here with my hands in
my lap and let you tell me what's what and what's true about Buddhism.

Until _you_ can quote me the details of the fifth Buddha prophecy as it is
found within Buddhism, and show that Baha'u'llah is the fifth Buddha
referred to by it, spare me any further responses. You can discuss with
other Baha'is here whether yours is path of openness and dialogue or
something other.


From jrcole@umich.eduSun Sep 10 13:54:25 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 17:08:33 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
To: Bruce Burrill 
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Buddhist/Baha'i Unity



Bruce:  I admire your willingness to continue the dialogue in this 
setting, and hope you feel our good will toward you and desire to reach 
mutual understanding.  You are only one person, and I know it must be 
sometimes hard to reply to four or five Baha'i posters.

Let me try to forward the dialogue by making three remarks regarding 
things that have come up more than once:

1.  You refer to the Baha'is as having a conception of a "creator-god."  
Actually, this is not quite true.  The Baha'i scriptures teach that the 
universe has always existed and is eternal.  There was never a time when 
it did not exist temporally.  So the "creator-god" schema where there is 
a god and no universe, and then He creates the universe, is not part of 
Baha'i cosmology.  The universe's existence, however, is not 
independent.  It is contingent.  I might not exist.  It is ontologically 
secondary to and dependent upon another, higher reality, a necessarily 
existent Reality that is inconceivable and beyond all attributes.
   Thus, although the Baha'i scriptures often use language that sounds 
like that of the Abrahamic tradition with regard to God and his creation 
of the universe ex nihilo, the realities being refered to are quite 
different.  God's pre-existence is ontological, not temporal.  The Baha'i 
view is essentially Neoplatonic and close to the metaphysics of Avicenna.

2.  You refer to reincarnation as a difference between Baha'i views and 
Buddhist ones.  This subject, however, is more complex than it may seem.  
Baha'is accept a Shi`ite doctrine of "return" that probably is rooted in 
Hellenistic Gnosticism.  Thus, Mulla Husayn was considered the "return" 
of the Prophet Muhammad.  In Some Answered Questions, `Abdu'l- Baha 
explains that what "returns" is not the essence of the person but a 
complex of "personality attributes."  I have long thought that this 
return of a complex of personality attributes sounds an awful lot like the
return of skandhas in Buddhism.  Now, of course, the idea that a human 
being consists of essence/soul on the one hand and personality-attributes 
on the other, and that the soul journeys on to higher spiritual worlds 
while the personality-attributes return, is not exactly like the Buddhist 
schema.  But there are perhaps points of interest and similarity in the 
idea of "Return" (raj`ah).

Quite apart from Baha'i/Buddhist issues, incidentally, I have as a 
historian long been convinced of the falsity of reincarnation in the 
Hindu sense.  We know enough about the demographic history of the world 
now to know that there has been a steep curve for thousands of years, 
with exponential increases in the number of humans in each generation.  
There are already several times as many humans in the world at the end of 
the 20th century as at the beginning.  They can't all be reincarnated 
from the small number of persons who existed in the past.  Human beings 
are only 200,000 years old, and sentience may be only 40,000 years old, 
and the numbers were very small in the beginning.  Some very large 
proportion of all people who ever lived are alive today.  None of this 
makes mathematical sense for me if one believed in reincarnation.

3.  You seem to me to begin with a "correspondence" theory of doctrines 
such as reincarnation.  That is, reincarnation is referring to real 
processes and describing aspects of the world as it is.  My reading of 
the approach of Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha to religious doctrine is 
that they do not see "correspondence," especially to empirical reality, 
as the purpose of religious doctrines.  Rather, they see doctrine as a 
sort of metaphorical ladder that adherents can climb toward a truth that 
cannot be expressed in words.  Thus, when people argue over doctrine it 
is like standing around arguing about whose ladder is painted a better 
color or is made of sturdier material, when if they would just get on the 
ladder and climb they would each reach the roof.  It seems clear to me 
that reincarnation and karma as doctrines are aimed at convincing 
individuals to act morally, and function in South Asia just as heaven and 
hell do in Christian Europe.  Strictly speaking, Baha'is do not believe 
in either one as any sort of rempirical reality.



cheers   Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan

From nima@unm.eduSun Sep 10 13:55:24 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 16:28:50 -0600 (MDT)
From: Sadra 
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Mowlana Jalaledin Rumi

Dear Talizens--

As the poet Jami's tribute to Rumi declares:

man nemeegooyam keh oo peyghAmbar ast,
valikan dArad ketAb!

I do not say he is a Prophet,
but he does have a Book (i.e. the Mathnavi)!

and the famous:

Masnavi-e Molavi-e Manavi
hast Quran dar zabAn-e Pahlavi.

Rumi's Mathnavi is the Quran in the Persian tongue.


  It is no exageration to say that no single poet/mystic in the 
entire Islamic world has exerted the influence of Hazrate Mowlana 
Jalaleddin Rumi and no single mystical work as widely read as his 
Mathnavi. Even those Sufi's who in their theoretical proclivities 
follow(ed) the school of Ibn al-`Arabi, one and all follow(ed) Rumi in their 
poetic insight - the two best examples of which are Fakhruddin `Araki (or 
`Iraqi) and Jami. From North Africa, Anatolia, Iran, Afghanistan and 
Central Asia to the Subcontinent and the furtherest reaches of Muslim 
South-East Asia, the "cry of the reed" has been/and is being heard and 
commented upon (the reed refers to the chief image in the opening line of 
the Mathnavi: "beshno az ney chon hekAyat meekonad, az jodAeehA shekAyat 
meekonad..." Listen to the reed how it tells its tale, complaining of 
separations..). Muslim and non-Muslim alike have been inspired by this 
monumental work - Annemarie Schimmel mentions Vedantists even studying 
it. And an entire aspect of the Iranian philosophical tradition has been 
devoted to it - Haj Mulla Hadi Sabzavari composed a philosophical 
commentary on the entire Mathnavi, for example. 

   One could talk forever about Rumi and still not have exhausted the 
scope of his penetrating vision into the intricacies of life and existence. 
How should one summarize him? One word: Love! But as he himself says,

Har che gooyam `ishq rA sharh o bayAn
chon be-`ishq Ayam khejel bAsham az An
gar che tafsir zabAn rowshangar ast
leek `ishq bi-zabAn rowshantar ast!

Whatever I say in explanation of Love,
When I come to Love itself, I am ashamed of words.
While words usually clarify matters,
Nonetheless Love is clearer without words.


 As for suggestions on what to read: for secondary sources, hands down 
Annemarie Schimmel's _The Triumphal Sun: A Study of the Works of 
Jalaleddin Rumi_ SUNY (1993) & William Chittick's _The Sufi Path of Love: 
The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi_ SUNY (1983).


Ecstatically yours,
Nima
---



From brburl@mailbag.comSun Sep 10 13:56:52 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 17:35:12 -0500
From: Bruce Burrill 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Buddhist/Baha'i Unity

Juan,

> "I admire your willingness to continue the dialogue in this 
setting, and hope you feel our good will toward you and desire to reach 
mutual understanding.  You are only one person, and I know it must be 
sometimes hard to reply to four or five Baha'i posters." <

I sometimes have time constraints that limits how much I can handle, and so
sometimes things get lost. My only concern was being somewhat "abused"
for an emphasis on doctrine, other than that I have been treated nicely. I am
not too terribly worried about where this will go, because there is always
something to learn, even if we don't reach a mutual understanding.

> 'So the "creator-god" schema where there is 
a god and no universe, and then He creates the universe, is not part of 
Baha'i cosmology.  The universe's existence, however, is not 
independent.  It is contingent.  I[t] might not exist.  It is ontologically 
secondary to and dependent upon another, higher reality, a necessarily 
existent Reality that is inconceivable and beyond all attributes.' <

I know, but as such, whether it is an out-of-nothing creation or an eternal
contingency, if there were no god, then no universe.

> "The Baha'i view is essentially Neoplatonic" <

Once a Baha'i was going on about Baha'i metaphysics, and I said Oh, you
are a Neoplatonist. He got rather put out.

> 'In Some Answered Questions, `Abdu'l- Baha 
explains that what "returns" is not the essence of the person but a 
complex of "personality attributes."' <

Interesting. Not having SAQ to look at, is this said to happen beyond the
example you gave?

> "I have long thought that this return of a complex of personality attributes
sounds an awful lot like the return of skandhas in Buddhism." <

Actually it isn't the skandhas that return. It is the karmic impulse.

> "Quite apart from Baha'i/Buddhist issues, incidentally, I have as a 
historian long been convinced of the falsity of reincarnation in the 
Hindu sense. ..." <

Also, the Buddhist sense. For both the Buddhist and the Hindu, the universe
is eternal, populated with both invisible and visible beings with also many
immaterial realms. Whether that satisfactorily answers your objection, I
suppose depends upon your willingness accept as true what can't be seen.
Buddhism does, however, offer something of an empirical response by saying
that through cultivation of highly refined levels of consciousness, these realms
can be seen.

> 'My reading of the approach of Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha to religious
doctrine is that they do not see "correspondence," especially to empirical
reality, as the purpose of religious doctrines.  Rather, they see doctrine as a 
sort of metaphorical ladder that adherents can climb toward a truth that 
cannot be expressed in words.' <

I know, and from an insiders point of view it looks like an enlightened,
tolerant approach, but as an outsider I then see my world view put in a one-
down, lower rung position. 

> "It seems clear to me 
that reincarnation and karma as doctrines are aimed at convincing 
individuals to act morally" <

But you don't see that that begs a questions or two that might be worth
discussing?

Bruce


From sbedin@gov.nt.caSun Sep 10 13:57:13 1995
Date: Sat, 09 Sep 1995 17:20:05 MDT
From: Stephen R Bedingfield 
To: Ahang Rabbani 
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: missing Hands...

Thanks for the inspiring post on the "missing Hands", Ahang.  We look
forward to an article from you on this subject...
 
> I don't know why the list of Hands available in various places 
> doesn't get modified in face of clear and irrefutable Texts.  My 
> guess is that the House is waiting for certain individuals to pass 
> from the scene before making such modifications.

Well, I guess you could put a precis together and ask the House.

loving regards,  stephen

--

From ahmada@acsusun.acsu.unsw.edu.auSun Sep 10 13:58:46 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 10:35:34 +1000
From: Ahmad Aniss 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: comply with a request

Dear Talismanians,
Dear Juan,
Your wrote:

>You have challenged me to look at the textual history dispassionately; 
>since you have not replied to the logical inconsistencies I have pointed 
>out earlier, I can only request the same of you.  Let's start in 1873 and 
>work forward instead of starting in 1987 and working backward.  It is 
>better history that way.

In a brief form I would say what my understandings are about
historical back ground to this:
Baha'u'llah stated that memebrs of houses must be men.  He did not
clarify the situation.  Because there was no need.  He was in a men's
world and that was the norm in His time.  Women did not enter in such
discussions at the time ( except of a handful such as Tahiereh).
He knew that as time will pass Abdu'l-Baha and Guardian will expound
on this.  It is true that He said in this age women are considered to be
as men.  This to me is a general statement to the effect of saying men
and women are equal in this Dispensation.  But, a reversal of the
argument does not hold (i.e. because He stated this statement, He ment
that women can eventually be on the House, see below).  Then we see
that Abdu'l-Baha held the argument for all Houses (at a time where there
was no National or International Houses) upto some time as you dated
it to 1912.  and then we see apparently a change in His rulling.
To me this just indicates what the extigency of His time was.
He did not change anything but he was waiting for the society to accept
the role of women in administrations of the Faith.  But, in His clarifications
at the time (having the authority invested on Him by Baha'u'llah), He does
say that this only apply to local and national Houses, and in case of the UHJ,
it is confined to men only, and that  it is God's will to be different and its
wisdom will be apparent to all erelong.  Then we see Guardian that held
the statements of Abdu'l-Baha to its exact points (again being invested with
such authority by Abdu'l-Baha).  He is then followed by the Hands and
now since 1963 to present time by UHJ which both bodies have stated the
same thing.  I think, This is the true historical background to it.

Now let us look at your argument in a different point of view.
I see your argument in this way;  That Baha'u'llah stated men and women
are equal but he used men in language of generality.  Then you must say
that He must have confused His arguments (as He does not do so in 
regard to many of His other laws).  Then we come to Abdu'l-Baha,
and find that accroding to your argument, He was confused did not have
all the information and hence He made contredictory rullings (a holy
personage that suppose to be infallibile, interpretor of all of Baha'u'llah's
laws and so on).  Then we come to our Guardian and again according
to your arguments He did not have all the information, He followed His
Grand father and he could not change things as He was not empowered
to legislated and so on (a personage that was envested with interpretation
power and the authority to role on desissions of any UHJ, and act as
the head of that body according to the writings).  Then we come to
the members of the Council of Hands that decided that Adu'l-Baha's
Will and Testement to be the future charter of our Faith and helped
the Baha'i society to acheive its formation of a UHJ, (a group of
distinguished followers of our Faith that according to you followed
blindly the Will and Testement of Abdu'l-Baha to exact point), after
all they where in a position to judge if women can be on the House
at their time.  Now we come up with a House that is been there since
1963 (32 years, with a number of members being changed since),
which states that the law is embedded in the Holy Text, for what
ever reason.  And again you say they did not have all the informtion too.
But, Hang on!!!  in this line of argument from Baha'u'llah to the current
members of the House every one got it wrong who has got it right, but YOU!
You forgive me if I state the above so bluntly as I have.
But, it looks like that you have hidden motives to follow the above
arguments insistantly as any body with some insight will repudiates the
arguments you are putting forward.

Once again I must ask you to look at the information available whether
it is historical or in the form of writings of our Faith in an unpassionate
way and see if your views would not change.


You also wrote:

>From owner-talisman@indiana.edu Sat Sep  9 14:16 EST 1995
>Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 23:45:24 -0400 (EDT)
>From: Juan R Cole 
>To: talisman@indiana.edu
>Subject: women's rights in the Baha'i Faith
>
>Several correspondents have asked for clarification with regard to my 
>equation of gender and race as bases for discrimination.
>...........
>Now, we speak of "removing the voting rights" of a Baha'i for certain 
>actions.  We are saying that voting in Baha'i elections is a right.  
>Clearly it would be wrong to deprive an adult Baha'i in good standing of 
>the right to vote on the basis of sex, race, language, national origin, etc.
>
>Eligibility to serve on Baha'i institutions is also a right.  No Baha'i 
>has a right to serve per se, but every adult Baha'i in good standing has 
>a right to be *eligible* to serve on every Baha'i institution but one.
>
>I see the exclusion of women from the Universal House of Justice as the 
>denial to a class of human beings of a human right on the basis of an 
>ascribed status (gender).  I do not see in what way this exclusion is 
>morally different from excluding a particular race, ethnic or linguistic 
>group, or other category of persons from eligibility.


What you say in the last paragraph is your progative.  But, you have to
remember that there is limitations to the rights of each individual based
on the laws of the Faith.  If the Manifestation of God states that there is
such a law and His succesors state that there is a wisdom behind it then
these are the limitations to the right of the individual and as such they
must be abided.

>How would most of those on Talisman feel if the constitutions of their 
>countries denied to women the right to serve as president, prime 
>minister, or on the cabinet?  Let us say women had the vote, and could 
>serve in the legislature and the judiciary, even be ambassadors.  But 
>they could not serve in the highest executive positions in the state.  
>Would this be equitable?  Could it be excused on the grounds that a 
>particular people has the right to configure gender roles as they please?
>(Incidentally, the example is not absurd; this is essentially the case 
>in contemporary Iran de jure, and de facto in the Arab world).


You are confusing leadership with being envested with infallibility.
They are different in reality.  One is to rule people, the other is to deliver
guidence produced during an spiritual interaction with the beings
from an spiritual world for the good of mankind in the physical world.


>Is such a situation compatible with `Abdu'l-Baha's identification in 
>*Baha'u'llah's* writings of a Baha'i *principle* of "equality of rights"? "
>All humans are alike in the eyes of God.  Their rights are one; no one has any 
>superiority over others.  All are under the divine Law."  (PUP 182, my 
>translation).


You said it! They are all under the divine Law.  The divine Law says men
can only be on that body, whatever the wisdom.


>A right of eligibility is different from a right to hold an office per 
>se.  But eligibility for office is a right, and in a community based upon 
>consultation it ought to be a universal right.


Quite right, eligibility has been stated within the divine Law.  So, right
of no one is impinged on.


>Whatever the origins of or reasons for the current system (and I myself 
>think they are clearly rooted in Middle Eastern patriarchy and gender 
>segregation), the results are discriminatory, and are contrary to the 
>Seventh essential Principle of Baha'u'llah.


Hang on!!  Accoring to this statement then Baha'u'llah is contridicting
Himself.  And His succesor are confused, see above argument.


>Now, I anticipate some attempts to fog over the issues by denying that 
>eligibility to serve on the Universal House of Justice is a right.  Some 
>will say it is a privilege, for instance.  But then why is this privilege 
>extended to some rather than others?  The issue of fairness will not go 
>away through verbal pyrotechnics.


No!  May be the issue will not go away but some facts will be cleared up
If the wisdom is embedded in the structure in the Creation itself as I suggest
Let it be, but, perhaps the wisdom that Abdu'l-Baha states will clear the air
one day.

>
>As for those who maintain that the Baha'i Faith is set in stone, and you 
>just have to accept it all the way it is, I don't know *where* in the 
>world they got that idea.  Baha'u'llah's whole stated reason for 
>instituting a Universal House of Justice was to allow the religion to 
>change to meet new circumstances and avoid the rigidity of past 
>religions.  Human beings seem so set in their ways, though, that they are 
>intent on recreating Orthodox Judaism or Ultramontane Catholicism or 
>Shi`ite Islam under a Baha'i guise and throwing out Baha'u'llah's counsel 
>of flexibility as inconceivable.  If Corinne True had thought like some 
>posters here, women might have been excluded from LSAs and NSAs, for 
>heaven's sake.

Perhaps Corinne True did help in the emancipation of women but this does not
mean that we have to be flexibale to an extend that we be able to change the
Laws of our Faith just to convince others that we do mean equality of men
and women.


>Baha'is are therefore caught between a Baha'i *principle* of equal human 
>rights for all, and a set of contradictory and changing instructions from 
>`Abdu'l-Baha regarding institutional specifics.  Why is it that the 
>principle (also enunciated by `Abdu'l-Baha, with far more consistency) 
>does not have standing in this discussion?  Is integrity or consistency 
>in Baha'i law completely unimportant?


It is your opinion that there is no consistency in the writings of Abdu'l-Baha.
Many others do not agree with it (such as me).  They see the apparent
changes as the need of the time.  Statements made by Abdu'l-Baha, Guardian
The Hands, and current UHJ, clearly are consistent statements in this regard.


>`Abdu'l-Baha said that the wisdom of the exclusion would become clear to
>all in the future.  However, logically speaking there are two possible
>sorts of reason that might become clear.  One sort would justify
>continued exclusion of women (e.g. milk glands interfere with the
>reception of divine radio waves).  But another sort would be contingent.
>For instance, we know that Shoghi Effendi did not have the Universal
>House of Justice elected in his lifetime because the communities in
>Soviet Central Asia would not have been able to vote.  This points to a
>principle of corporate inclusion.  What if it would have been unfair to
>have a House of Justice with women on it in `Abdu'l-Baha's lifetime
>because they largely lacked even the vote, were in world terms largely
>illiterate, and only a very small minority had the experience in public life
>to serve?  What if it would only be fair for women to be eligible if they had a
>tradition of public service, the civil vote, and were on the whole educated?
>And what if in 50 years they will have in world terms crossed that 
>crucial corporate-gender threshhold and become eligible?


Abdu'l-Baha's writings as a whole state that it is education that has produced
differences in equality between men and women.  But, in most of His writings
He states that this equality is established by Baha'u'llah and will come to pass in
this Dispensation.  However, he confines clearly the membership of the UHJ
to men and He says the wisdom of it will be apparent in erelong, as such we
Baha'i have to look at this way, whatever the wisdom.


>Until then, Eric Blair, a.k.a George Orwell, said it best.  Some animals are 
>more equal than others.


they may be right after all, All Human Beings are a sort of animal!

With Baha'i Love and Fellowship,
Ahmad.
 _______________________________________________________________________
^					___________________________________^







From ahmada@acsusun.acsu.unsw.edu.auSun Sep 10 13:59:19 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 10:36:26 +1000
From: Ahmad Aniss 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: reply to a friend

ۥ-


A friend has send the following private post to me
I am sending it with modifications plus my replys to it in this posting.

>Dear Ahmad,
>
>I am a silent reader of Talisman, and have been following this
>discussion with interest.  I am sending you this private note, sharing
>my views on this subject,........
>
>I believe that the issues of exclusion of women on the UHJ is one of the
>most challenging principals for Baha'is, and seekers.  As Baha'is, we
>ultimately accept this issue on pure faith, and trust in Baha'u'llah,
>and God's wisdom and love for humanity.  However, all of us deeply yearn
>for an "understanding" of this, as well as "accepting" it.  There is no
>logical and rational explanation for it in the writings, and in fact,
>quite the opposite is true.  All the writings of our central figures on
>equality of sexes lead us to believe this exclusion to be "irrational".


Not really this is not the most challenging issue at stack.  The most
challenging issue is to show to humanity that Baha'u'llah is the Manifestation
of God for this age.  To do so we do not need to prove way women are not
on the UHJ at all.  To some may be this will be important, but not to the
generality of mankind.
You say there is no logical or rational explanation in the writings in this
regard.  I will say that this is so because you are trying to look for a single
statement in that regard.  It is true that there is no single statement to justify it.
But, I most say that it is like a jigso you must put the pieces together
before you can get the whole picture.  You will not find a single
passage in writings.  But, if you put all the appropriate writings in this
regard together then you will come up to the same conclusion that I.


>I believe that when Abdu'l-Baha says the wisdom would become clear, it
>doesn't mean that everyone will come to understand it the same way.  The
>revelation of Baha'u'llah is also said to be clear as the sun, but it
>didn't cause all the people of the world to see it.


I do agree with you.  This is a gradual process but the Faith of Baha will
eventually cover the whole planet and its people so does this wisdom.


>In one of your notes in response to Juan you wrote:
>
>>>   Moreover, if we look at the contemporary world, women have been
>>>accepted in leadership positions in most countries; there have been
>>>European women prime ministers, South Asian women prime ministers,
>>>Latine American women prime ministers, etc.

>>>Being in a position of leadership is not the same as being infallible and
>>>guided at all times via an interaction with the Manifestation of God
>>>through the Spiritual World.
>
>Dear Ahmad, although I don't agree with Juan that membership of women on
>the house is subject to change, I must say that this response of yours
>blows me off!  He is saying that women can be in position of leadership,
>and you say, in effect, that they may be suitable for leadership, but
>they aren't equipped to be "infallible and guided at all times via an
>interaction with the Manifestation of God....".  Wow!  does this mean
>that "men" are more equipped to be "infallible and guided at all
>times..."???


Not at all I am saying is that only a handful of men (9) after being selected
by human beings then they take a form of feminine role towards the Manifestation
of our Faith and enter into an spiritual interaction which leads them to come
up with legislation that is guided.  It has noting to do with leadership.
As to men being more equipped, I must say that is not so also.  They being
the giver of sperm in this physical world (functionally performing role of active
force (God given function in Creation for reproduction purpose)) are
potentially in a position to be selected for a functionally feminine role towards
an spiritual being (which acts as the active force).  You must put this into
perspective.  Not all men are chosen able in this respect.  They are like seeds
that stay dormant for ever, only a handful are able to go into fruition.


>		  Universal House of Justice as an "institution" is
>infallible.  It has nothing to do with who sits on its seats.  If
>Baha'u'llah had ordained monkeys to be members of the house, instead of
>humans, then the of nine monkeys who would make the UHJ (as a single
>body) would be infallible, even though monkeys are totally unequipped to
>be so.  You are making a huge leap from taking a teaching of the faith,
>to deciding what inherent qualities men and women are supposed to
>posses, to give them different functions.


Baha'u'llah selected men and not monkeys to do so.  It is not nice or
graceful to bring such a postulation forward.  As such descriptions brings
our respect for The House to lower standards.  nevertheless, You are
right to say that this is a unique institution given to humanity by God,
and they act as a single body towards a spiritual entity (Manifestation
of God).  This is precisely the thing that I want to see other derive at.
Yes, they are a single body.  This body plays a feminine role in an
spiritual interaction.  They must be of men members, because this
interaction is at boundaries of spiritual to physical worlds.
Male is the giver of sperm in the physical world.  Sperm interacts with
the egg and life is produced.  In the same way men of the House
act as the egg and the spiritual sperm is given by the Holy Spirit
to the egg and as result of this spiritual interaction law and order
is formed.  In the physical sense as Abdul'-Baha has stated (see
previous postings of mine) male and female individuals act a function
neither is superior or inferior, they are both complementary.
However, you must note that in spiritual world there is no gender and
only levels of existences exist and hence interaction is between
an above level with a level below, through the spectrum.


>Your understanding that this exclusion is due to difference of
>"function" between men and women is simply a reversed logic to find a
>reason for something you have accepted on faith.  To back up your
>argument, and maybe to justify your theory to yourself, you use the
>analogy of "creation", or the function of giving birth by women.  Well,
>it is fine if you see these two things as analogous, but they certainly
>don't seem to be, in any way or form, analogous to a lot of other
>people.  There are clear biological differences that support the reason
>why men and women have different functions in creating a baby.  Their
>functions are a part of their "design".  No one has granted them these
>functions.


No! I look at Creation as a whole and like Abdu'l-Baha, I see that the
principle of male and female existences govern our physical world.
Interaction of human male and female is only one part of the spectrum.
even physical interactions of animals and plants do not have similarity,
yet they are interactions governed by the above law of God.
You are right to say their functions are a part of their "design".  Exactly
this the how the Creation, is created by God.  The birth by women is
a metaphor for understanding the parallel births in spiritual concepts.
It is very logical to see it that way.  If one do not understand a law of
God and His manifestation says take it should be taken as granted
then yes of course one must take it as granted, but yet if one can put
logic to it based on His teachings then the need for taking it as granted
will disappear and has no bearing on the argument.



>		A more logical analogy would be to claim that caring for
>young children is the function of women (note, I didn't say babies,
>since caring for babies IS a biological function of women because they
>are the source of food for them).  Now, this would be an acceptable
>notion to a lot of people.  It makes "sense" that women should care for
>their children.  But there is nothing in their biology that gives them
>that function.  It might be the natural order of things, and the most
>convenient of arrangements, but if we accept this as their function, it
>is because we have "decided" that it must be so.  There are however some
>understandable social, and maybe physical reasons why we might allocate
>this function to women, and not men.


Well as to the bearing of babies concerned it is a function but raising of a child
is not a function it is an act that both parents of the child have responsibilities
and I think men must participate in it greatly in this Dispensation.
It could have been the natural order of thing before, but the world is
changing and I don't think this will hold very long.  Hence, it can't be
the wisdom which we are waiting for.


>On the other hand, there is NOTHING in the Writings to suggest that men
>have certain properties that renders them the function of membership on
>the House.  The House is an organ in itself, and the makeup of its
>members is totally irrelevant to the function that it must perform.  In
>fact, if we believe that there are some properties that the members of
>the house should have, then the Writings make make it clear that those
>properties are shared equally between men and women.


On the contrary if you take all the relevant writings together you come up
with the male and female principle of Abdu'l-Baha.  As properties I am not
aware of any except that they functionally have potential of acting a feminine
role only if they are chosen.


>							  The fact that
>individual members of the house are not to be taken as different from
>any other Baha'i (of course they must have possessed the qualities that
>got them elected, but those aren't "male" qualities), suggests that
>INDIVIDUAL function is not a determining factor in the membership of the
>house.


Yes they should not be taken as different individually, but collectively
they embody an 'institution' or a 'single body' as you put it.  However,
you got it wrong in the sense that they must be men according to our
writings before their other qualities become important.  so function is a
determining factor.  Way? see the above argument.


>The function of UHJ is totally independent from the function of
>its members, otherwise, individual men would have to be infallible.


Not quite true.  Yes individually they are not infallible as they can not
perform the function of the single body, that you have described.
individually they can not become that feminine body that is needed
in such a spiritual interaction.  So you see you postulation in the above
statement doesn't hold.


>The difference in function (of men and women) that you believe in, is
>because you have accepted this principal on faith (as other Baha'is do),
>and you can't find any good reason for it, you conclude that it "must"
>be their function.  What else could it be?  God says so, so it is true.
>God doesn't give any obvious reason for it, but there must be one.  What
>could it then be, if not a difference in function??


On the contrary God gives reason for it.  He says "I loved thy Creation,
hence I Created thee".  There was an interaction of God with pre-existence
matter and this Creation was formed.  There is a spiritual world and that
world is in an interaction with this physical world, and so on.  So God has
given its reasons and one does not have to take it on faith.


>Well, I can come up with a different theory all together.  For example,
>I think that humanity has been rapidly moving toward Humanism, and the
>belief that human intellect is the ultimate source of knowledge.  It is
>quite manifest in our contemporary thinking.  We believe that if
>something doesn't sit right with our intellect, and we can't come up
>with an acceptable and logical reason for it, then it is wrong.  Baha'i
>faith supports this notion to some degree, with the principal of harmony
>of science and religion.


Why not take this principle of Abdu'l-Baha as part of science and see
its agreement with religion and my postulation as its derivative.


>			  At the same time, we, as Baha'is are to
>understand, that there is a higher source of wisdom and knowledge, and
>as humans we must ultimately submit to its will and wisdom.  So, in this
>dispensation, in which, human intellect has and will grow to its utmost
>station, the spiritual growth of man is achieved by a very strong
>"test", which is to submit to the "will" of God,


I don't think that I disagree with this part of your sentence but I do not see
how you can come up with the second part of your sentence and base it
on the first.


						 despite its total
>contradiction with man's intellectual understanding that men and women
>are both equally equipped (as is supported in numerous writings on the
>equality of spiritual and intellectual capacity of both sexes) to serve
>on the UHJ.


Where in the writings does say that because they are equal they can serve
on the UHJ.  Yes men and women are equal in spiritual and intellectual
capacities, but as to their functions equality is based on the fact of their
role being complementary and vital in an interaction.  As to their functions
there is difference but not in the sense of superiority or inferiority.


		  In other words, men and women are both functionally equal
>when it comes to this issue, but humanity needs to resist its
>implementation for the sake of having the strongest reminder of its
>powerlessness, and God's power!  The "wisdom" that will be clear as the
>daytime sun, could simply be our "need" for this test against our
>overgrown intellectual faculty, in order to nurture our spiritual
>essence, which is in the state of infancy, and in desperate need for
>growth.


You said it.  Crazy but Plausible!
>
>Crazy?  Plausible?!  You might say I am way out of line, and this
>doesn't make any sense.  But I say that it makes at least as much sense
>as your theory, that it is a matter of difference in function!  If
>anything, the writing support my speculation more than yours!!  I can't
>for the life of me find anything in Baha'i teachings that makes the
>function of serving on the house a "male" thing, and I don't think you
>can offer any either, can you?  But I do see in a of our writings, the
.notion that we have to examine our ego, constantly remind ourselves to
>acknowledge our lack of wisdom (as in the daily short obligatory
>prayer), and submit our will to God's.  Accepting the fact that at times
>God's will is different from what we "think" it should be, is the
>greatest challenge for the modern man, and we have to face it until it
>becomes our second nature.  Exclusion of women on the House will be a
>constant reminder for the humanity in the next several centuries, where
>we should look for a guide to our salvation.  And that place is not our
>brains!


By putting the above postulation you have not solved anything.  You Merely
say we must take it on faith in another way and noting more.  This to me
doesn't hold.  Abdu'l-Baha says that there is a wisdom behind it and it will
eventually be apparent to all.  With above postulation there can be no time
limit to such appearance, and hence again it doesn't hold.


>The wisdom is truly in the eyes of beholder. The problem arises when
>one beholder of "a" wisdom tries to convince others that his wisdom
>is very clear, and should be clear to others.


Well said, I can not agree with you more.  However, as an eventuality
there will be a time that if not all but majority of friends will see that
wisdom what ever it entails.


>Dear Ahmad, I hope that I haven't burdened you too much with this much-
>longer-than-I-intended note!  I truly enjoy reading your articles in
>Talisman, and appreciate very much your calm and loving ways that you
>express yourself.


I did enjoy reading your posting and here is my reply I hope it is useful.
I would like to send this to Talisman in a modified form so that others can
share this discussion.

With Baha'i Love and Fellowship,
Ahmad.
riting support my speculation more than yours!!  I can't
>for the life of me find anything in Baha'i teachings that makes the
>function of serving on the house a "male" thing, and I don't think you
>can offer any either, can you?  But I do see in a of our writings, the
.notion that we have to examine our ego, constantly remind ourselves to
>acknowledge our lack of wisdom (as in the daily short obligatory
>prayer), and submit our will to God's.  









^									^
^ Dr. A.M. Aniss,			



From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comSun Sep 10 14:00:14 1995
Date: Sat, 09 Sep 95 18:41:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: missing Hands...

[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]

Dear Stephen:

> > I don't know why the list of Hands available in various places 
> > doesn't get modified in face of clear and irrefutable Texts.  My 
> > guess is that the House is waiting for certain individuals to pass 
> > from the scene before making such modifications.

> Well, I guess you could put a precis together and ask the House.

Actually, I think its best to wait.  On a number of occasions 
different members of the House explained that sometimes its best 
*not* to ask.  Because, once you ask, then you're stuck with the 
answer.

For example, if the authors of the "Service of Women" paper had 
kept things at a low key, continued with their research and along 
the way discussed the matter with the Research Dept and not gone 
public with it, then the House of Justice would have never been 
*forced* into making a pronouncement.  From everything that I 
understand, they didn't want to make a statement and would have 
wished that the researchers kept things quite for a while til 
their findings reached a mature state -- which presently is no 
where near such a stage! -- and worked with the World Centre 
towards a better understanding of the issues by everyone, but, 
alas, ...

Anyway, I understand the Encyclopedia folks approached the House 
on the question of the missing Hands and were told to stick to 
the 50 listed Hands.  Thank God, no body tried to fight this 
decision and turn it into another impasse.  So, in a few years 
time, perhaps this issue (with sufficient documentation) can be 
brought to the attention of the House.

Incidentally, when two years ago I asked the Research Dept for 
some data on Abdu'llah Mutlaq and Jinab-i Fadil, they bent 
backwards to help out.  My wife, Maryam, was visiting Haifa at 
the time and at a dinner party mentioned to Vahid Rafati that I 
was still missing a piece of documentation.  The next day, she 
was handed the material.  

My point is that making a huge noise over issues and urging the 
faithfuls to storm the citadel, makes for entertaining postings 
on Talisman, but doesn't resolve anything.

with best wishes, ahang. 


ps.  dear Stephen, you realize that I'm using the Persian 
technique of "bi dar bego, ta divar bishnovih" (tell the door, so 
the wall would hear it.)    Of course, everybody else is going:  
"What the hell does that mean??"

From nima@unm.eduSun Sep 10 14:01:57 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 20:03:26 -0600 (MDT)
From: Sadra 
To: Mary Day 
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: re: Female/male in the Sufi perspective

Dear Mary--

Your questions are most welcome and I hope this will prove a productive 
inquiry. I must warn you, though, I am not at all well versed in the 
literature and terminologies of Women's/Feminist Studies. My approach is 
neither as a historian, anthropologist (Linda Walbridge can help you 
here) or sociologist but as an advocate of traditional metaphysics. So here 
goes...


> QUESTION No 1:
> 
> Where/are any of these mystics and philosophers women? 

There were/are many Sufi women the most famous being the 
ninth century Rabi'a al-Adawiyya - she's often compared to St Teresa of 
Avila. For information about Rabi'a, OneWorld publications recently 
re-printed Margaret Smith's classic _Rabi'a: The Life and Works of Rabi'a 
and other Women Mystics in Islam_ which, interestingly, also includes a 
chapter on Tahirih. Dr Javad Nurbakhsh's (the current head of the 
Nimatullahi Sufi Order) book _Sufi Women_ is also a valuable source of 
information about the history of women and Sufism. And, of course, there 
are the publications of the modern British Sufi, Irina Tweedie. But I highly 
recommend Sachiko Murata's _The Tao of Islam_ above all other sources 
currently available out there. 

   Women have played a prominent role in the development of Sufism, but 
they were/are also often marginalized as well. Unfortunately, many a 
prominent Sufi, reflecting the ingrained sexism of the established order, 
held a very low opinion of women. Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali's views, for 
instance, are bordering on outright misogyny and Rumi did not have a 
very favorable view either, at least in some of the imagery he uses 
in his poetry. And if one believes in the authenticity of Imam 
Ali ibn Abu Talib's sermons, the Nahjul Balagha (The Peak of Eloquence), 
who is considered both the first Shi'ite Imam and the first sin 
qua non gnostic/`aref of Islam (the majority of Sufi Orders trace back their 
lineage to `Ali), then the position/view of women becomes even more 
problematic. `Ali made statements in the Nahjul Balagha about women 
that would make any sincere Feminist of good conscience cry "bloody murder": 
i.e. that women are inherently inferior to men and their testimonies not 
to be trusted, etc.  

  Notwithstanding, women share(d) a much better position, albeit 
an ambivalent one, in Sufism than any of the official orthodoxies, be they 
Sunni or Shi'i. We do have testimonies, however, that many women attained 
stations of perfect mastery, some even attaining ranks within the 
cosmic/spritual hierarchy of nujaba and nuqaba (supports and helpers), and 
one of Muhyiddin Ibn al-`Arabi's first teachers was a 90+ year old woman, 
Nunah Fatimah bint ibn al-Muthanna (see RWJ Austin's translation, _Sufi's of 
Andalusia_ pp. 143-6) who the Shaykh thought to be among THE most 
advanced Sufi's of his generation. 

  As for women philosophers in medieval Islamicate, I'm not aware of any. 
John or Juan..?

   

> 
> Question no 2:
> 
> what do you see as the importance of considering these sufi 
> conceptions? Do you think they have influenced Baha'u'llah's or Abdul 
> Baha's writings on the subject? Do you think they are still relevant 
> to our conceptualisation of male and femaleness within  Bahai contexts?
> 

  The importance of considering these Sufi conceptions (including those in 
Tantra, Vedanta, the Tao, the Kabbalah, etc), for me at least, 
is to understand the symbolic nature and ultimate metaphysical root of 
everything in the contingent world, especially that of gender. All things 
in the cosmos are, in the final analysis, transparent in nature, but one 
must first understand the nature of the symbol in order to understand 
what is symbolizes and why. For me, male/female reflects, on one plane, the 
polar, but complimentary, nature within all things, which finally 
resolves into the Transcendent Unity of Being/Existence (wahdat al-wujud).

  Yes, given the milieu that the Baha'i Faith arose out of both
Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha are obviously influenced by the 
sapiential perspective of Sufism and their Writings more than replete 
with its language and imageries. Therefore, their view of gender 
reflects, with certain important modifications of course, 
that of Sufism. However, the Babi-Baha'i Faith also adds new dimensions 
to the Sufi worldview. IMHO, the Baha'i Faith is nothing but Shi'ism and 
Sufism universalized. In other words, it has exotericized what was 
previously esoteric in Islam - this is a principle which I believe to be 
the hallmark of every Dispensation. 

  I personally consider the sapiential view of gender to be a perennial 
truth. So, yes, I do consider it relevant to Baha'i contexts.

  The most important point to understand about the theoretical Sufism of 
someone like Ibn `Arabi and his school (as also in the Tantric and Vedantic 
perspectives) is that maleness and femaleness are primarily viewed as 
metaphysical principles underlying an ontological order and not 
necessarily persons - kind of like the anima/animus principle of Jung. 
All things share or participate in this activity/passivity principle in some 
manner by virtue of the very nature of al-Haqq (the Real/God). However, 
mysticism by definition, and Sufism in particular, at the same 
time transcends these qualifications of gender, and the symbolism thereof 
is utilized to express a Reality that is essentially far beyond all 
predications of form, dichotomy/polarity, limitation and so on. 


> 
> In the first half of the last chapter of his most widely read work, Fusus 
> al-Hikam (The Bezels of Wisdom) - The Wisdom of Singularity in the Logos 
> of Muhammad -, the Shaykh comments on the famous hadith of the Prophet, 
> "Three things do I cherish in this world: women, perfume and prayer," and 
> 
> Question no 3:
> 
> Do you see any problems with this association of women with prayer, 
> and perfume in the sense that it objectifies women rather than gives 
> them status as people like men?
> 

An emphatic, NO! First, I must object to your objection that this hadith 
objectifies women :-) An inherent weakness of most contemporary discourses 
about religion, IMHO, and particularly about mysticism, is that it 
constantly makes category mistakes of the first order. It is 
essentializing and literalizing something that can't be essentialized or 
literalized. I'm sorry, but to read "objectification" (a category that is 
culturally, i.e. Western, and historically, i.e. 20th century, bound) 
into this hadith is a serious failure of appreciating the dynamic context 
of the hadith itself (not to mention a bad value judgement), 
especially as glossed by someone like Ibn `Arabi.

  Btw, this very hadith is used by contemporary Muslim feminists like 
the Morrocan Fatima Mernissi to argue and present evidence against the 
sexist paradigm of the mainstream Islamic point of view on the status of 
women in an Islamic society (see her _The Veil & the Male Elite in Islam_). 

> gives a fascinating ta'wil (spiritual/mystical hermenuetic) on the nature 
> of the man/woman dichotomy; the dichotomy being the polar aspects of the 
> Real (al-Haqq, or God) which is in essence one. He characterizes this 
> relationship in terms that might at first seem patronizing to many modern 
> feminists, however, as with everything else, Ibn al-`Arabi envisages all 
> 
> Question 4: What exactly do you mean by this 'might at first seem 
> patronising to modern feminists'? Are you implying that if they 
> understood they wouldn't feel this way? Are you suggesting that 
> modern feminists don't have much to contribute to such questions? 
> 

  Symbolisms of "activity" & "passivity" vis-a-vis gender are anathema to 
most feminists in any context. No? But, yes, if they, for a moment 
stepped, outside of their frameworks, without making skewed value 
judgements, they would understand. From the little I have read of 
contemporary Feminist discourse (namely Susan Faludi, Gloria Steinem and
Mary Daly) I don't believe this approach can, or is capable - due to 
the nature of its own internal limitations  - of contributing anything of 
significance to a mystical/metaphysical understanding of the question of 
gender. But, like I said, I'm in no way versed in the spectrum of 
Feminist thought. There very well could be schools of thought within 
Feminist perspective - and you can help me here - that would be more 
forthcoming to such an approach than the others.

> things in existence, including gender, as principles or divine and 
> metaphyscial roots of higher significance indicating and symbolizing God: 
> i.e. femininity/masculinity and activity/passivity are considered Names and 
> Attributes of the Real.
> 
> 
> Question 5:
> Is the implication here that men=active and women=passive? Is this 
> the manner in which the masculine and feminine are characterised in 
> sufi thought? What other dichotomies like this do they use? Is there 
> any resistance by female mystics in sufi tradition or currently to 
> such characterisations?

Like I said before, activity/passivity are symbolic principles and do NOT 
necessarily single out persons. But in the juristic-exoteric perspective 
of Islamic thought women have been characterized as such. As I mentioned 
in my previous post, Absoluteness and Infinity are some of the common 
dichotomies characterized, however the range of symbolism is vast - read 
Murata's _The Tao of Islam_. 

> 
>  Before quoting from the Fusus itself, let me first briefly delineate what 
> the Shaykh's view on the matter is. Ibn `Arabi considers the structure of 
> reality to be symbolically circular. In its specific application to 
> gender, the Shaykh considers femininity to represent the center of a circle 
> and masculinity, the periphery - the circle, or the Divine nature, being 
> completed by the two aspects. Also, masculinity is seen to reflect 
> "...the Absolutness of the Divine" while femininity, "its Infintude. If 
> the Face of God towards the world is envisaged in masculine terms 
> [al-zahir/the Manifest], His inner infinitude is symbolized by the 
> feminine [al-batin/the Hidden] as are His Mercy [rahmat] and Wisdom 
> [hikmah]...(Seyyed Hossein Nasr, _Knowledge & the Sacred_, p. 177)." 
> 
>   In the Fusus the Shaykh says,
> 
>    When man contemplates the Real [al-Haqq/God] in woman he beholds [Him] 
> in a passive aspect, while when he contemplates Him in himself, as being 
> that from which woman is manifest, he beholds Him in an active aspect. 
> When, however, he contemplates Him in himself, without any regard to what 
> has come from him, he beholds Him as passive to Himself directly. 
> However, his contemplation of the Real in woman is the most complete and 
> perfect, because in this way he contemplates the Real in both active and 
> passive mode, while by contemplating the Real only in himself, he beholds 
> Him in a passive mode particularly.
> 

> Question 6:
> 
> Can you clarify what is meant by active and passive in this context?

Passivity in this context is the different modes the Real (God) manifests 
itself to the Cosmos and man in contemplation.

> 
> 
>    Because of this the Apostle of God loved women by reason of [the 
> possibility of] perfect contemplation of the Real in them. Comtemplation 
> of the Real without formal support is not possible, since God, in His 
> essence, is far beyond all need of the Cosmos. Since, therefore, some 
> form of support is necessary, the best and most perfect kind is the 
> contemplation of God in women, corresponding as it does to the turning of 
> God toward the one He has created in His own image, to make him His 
> vicegerent, so that He might behold Himself in him. Accordingly, he 
> shaped him, balanced him, and breathed His spirit into him, which is His 
> Breath, so that his outer aspect is creaturely, while his inner aspect is 
> divine. Because of this He describes it [the spirit] as being disposer of 
> this human structure by which God "disposes of things from the heaven," 
> which is elevation, "to the earth (Quran 32:5)," which is the lowest of 
> the low, being the lowest of the elements.
> ....In relation to him they [women] are as the Universal Nature is to God 
> in which He revealed the forms of the Cosmos by directing toward it the 
> divine Will and Command, which, at the level of elemental forms, is 
> symbolized in conjugal union, spiritual concentration [himmah] in the 
> realm of luminous spirits, and the ordering of premises toward 
> conclusions [in the realm of thought], all of which correspond to the 
> consummation of the Primordial Singularity in all these aspects...
> (Translated by RWJ Austin, Paulist Press, (New York: 1980), p. 275-6). 

> Question 7:
> 
> How is this kind of conceptualisation of men and women played out in 
> sufi society or community? That is what is the role of men and women? 
> What are their relative positions? Do women have any role in mystic 
> and/or spiritual practices? What forms of inequality are prevalent in 
> their society?
> 

  Again, I recommend you read the books I mentioned. But let me relate from 
personal experience. The Sufi Orders function differently: some are highly 
rigid and orthodox, others not so rigid and orthodox. One of the Sufi 
khanaqah's I was attending here in Albuquerque, New Mexico - before getting 
kicked-out because the Pir found out I was a Baha'i - was heavily segregated 
during official functions, especially dhikr and salat: the women sat on the 
left side of the room and the men, the right side. However, the Shah 
Nimatullahi Sufi Order, which is also an Iranian-Shi'ite Order like the Shah 
Maghsoudi Order that I was previously attending, is very care-free and 
egalitarian: men and women mingle freely and sit together and chant dhikr
together, even do the namaz together, and so on. Even more egalitarian are 
the local chapters of Inayat Khan's Sufi Orders of the West (who love the
Baha'is btw and have apparently done dhikr to Allah-u-abha - how `bout 
that!) and the Chishtiyyah - the last time I attended a weekly dhikr at 
the Chishti Sufi Order a woman led namaz. 

  Things are by no means ideal, but they are changing. However, I have 
noticed a certain "backlash" (to use Susan Faludi's term) lately amongst 
some of the more traditionally oriented men, and there are a few women 
that are not too far behind them either, interestingly enough. 
Unfortunately, you will find narrow-minded religious fundamentalists even 
among the Sufi's.


> Question 8:
> 
> What relevance do you see this as having to Baha'i principles of 
> equality and the masculine and feminine principles Abdul Baha talks 
> about?

The relevance is that femininity/masculinity are principles within the 
Divine nature Itself and we must seek to understand this root paradigm of 
existence.

  I hope I have answered your questions. 
  
Warm regards,
Nima






From mfoster@tyrell.netSun Sep 10 14:02:35 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 21:28:15 -0500 (EDT)
From: "Mark A. Foster" 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Terms of Discourse 

To: talisman@indiana.edu

Talismanians -
    
    I hesitated before deciding to write this message, since I will be         
returning to a subject I introduced back in the spring, when I first 
joined Talisman, which, IMHO (in my humble opinion), led to considerable 
divisiveness and name-calling. However, I am hopeful that "the list" 
(possibly a reified category ) has matured since that time, and that 
this subject can be discussed in a manner which is respectful of the 
views of others.  
    
    Although we see terms in Baha'i primary sources (the authorized 
texts of Baha'u'llah, the Bab, `Abdu'l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi, and the 
Universal House of Justice) which may resemble, or even be borrowed 
from, those in common usage, the meaning (i.e., the spiritual reality 
pointed to by the revealed or inspired utterances) is not necessarily 
the same. IOW (in other words), if we wish to understand the meaning of 
a passage, especially the words of the three Central Figures, we need to 
look at it as a symbol vehicle or thought bridge for something beyond 
the realm of outward appearances, i.e., the spiritual Kingdom revealed.
    
    The example I used back in the spring was "science," which, I wrote, 
is defined by the Master as the independent investigation of reality 
(the essence of "justice," according to the second numbered verse of 
_The [Arabic] Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah_). Science can then be divided 
into the science of reality (a.k.a. the divine teachings, "the words He 
hath revealed, spiritual science, and divine science) and the material 
sciences ("bridges to reality"). 
    
    As I argued, science/the scientific method (the independent 
investigation of reality) is, therefore, one of the keys to developing 
an understanding of the principle of the harmony of science and 
religion. Moreover, since both the science of reality (and divine 
civilization) and material scientific "progress" (and material 
civilization) result from the presence of the revealed Word in the 
Reality of the Messenger, these two sorts of knowledge are  
interdependent.       
    
    Likewise, with the principle of the the equality of the sexes, while 
there are certain similarities between the various popular and academic 
forms of feminism and the Baha'i teachings on the equality, and unity in 
diversity, of the sexes, and these areas of convergence can and, IMV (in 
my view), should be explored to the enrichment of all parties, Baha'i 
approaches to this topic should not, IMO (in my opinion), actually 
depend on other definitions, or linguistic structurings, of gender 
relations.     
    
    The narrative framework of sexual equality forms part of the Sacred 
Text and the interpretations or elucidations of the Master, the 
Guardian, and, the Universal House of Justice. A dialogical reading of, 
or reflection on, these texts, coupled with an appreciation for the 
contextualized use of analogical teaching, can, as I see it, result in a 
greater understanding of this important issue.
    
    Finally, the _ultimate_ meaning of equality, of science, of law, 
etc., and our expected "response" to the Prophetic "challenge," is, from 
my POV (point of view), given by the divine Manifestation and by those 
appointed to authoritatively speak for Him. That meaning (the Logos) 
exists in the spiritual Kingdom of God manifested (the Greater World of 
Prophethood) and, in this world, can, to a limited extent, be _seen_ on 
the empirico-rational levels as the Sacred Text (in the world of human 
reason) reveals the true significance of materiality (nature or the 
kingdom of names and attributes) as spiritual metaphor.
    
    With loving greetings,
    
            Mark
        

                                                                                                       

From mfoster@tyrell.netSun Sep 10 14:03:07 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 21:59:46 -0500 (EDT)
From: "Mark A. Foster" 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Gender and Sex 

To: talisman@indiana.edu

Talismanians,
    
    A couple of days ago, one of the beloved posted a message which, as 
I read it, claimed that sex differences are purely a product of social 
construction. For those not familiar with the "nature vs. nature" 
debate, which was, to my surprise, explained quite well by U.S. talk 
show host, Phil Donahue, in his book, _The Human Animal_, it centers on 
whether human behavioral variation (including male-female differences) 
can be attributed to biology/genetics or socialization. 
    
    Most researchers in this area, including many sociologists, now say 
that sex-typed behavior is apparently a mixture of nature (sex) and 
nurture (gender). While I would tend to emphasize the latter and would 
argue that humans do not have any _fixed_ instincts, it seems to me that 
some variation can be probably explained by sex (e.g., aggressiveness 
and endurance). As I see it, these sex differences are the evidence of 
the appearances of the names and attributes of God in females and males.  
    
    `Abdu'l-Baha said:    
    
           Ere long the days shall come when the men 
        addressing the women, shall say:
    
        "Blessed are ye!  Blessed are ye!  Verily ye are 
        worthy of every gift.  Verily ye deserve to adorn 
        your heads with the crown of everlasting glory, 
        because in sciences and arts, in virtues and 
        perfections ye shall become equal to man, and as 
        regards tenderness of heart and the abundance of 
        mercy and sympathy ye are superior."
    
    With loving regards,
    
           Mark



_                                          

From rlg0001@jove.acs.unt.eduSun Sep 10 14:03:18 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 23:45:39 -0500 (CDT)
From: Robert Lee Green 
To: Burl Barer 
Cc: LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.edu, talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: women on UHJ

The highest position of power is one where one has submitted one's will 
to "God" at all times, not just between the sayings of prayer, but that 
institution is another story, :)

		 
From s0a7254@tam2000.tamu.eduSun Sep 10 14:03:30 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 00:00:08 -0500 (CDT)
From: Saman Ahmadi 
To: talisman 
Subject: Re: reply to a friend



Dear Ahmad and All,

[some deletions]

You wrote:
 
> On the contrary God gives reason for it.  He says "I loved thy Creation,
> hence I Created thee".  There was an interaction of God with pre-existence
> matter and this Creation was formed.  There is a spiritual world and that
> world is in an interaction with this physical world, and so on.  So God has
> given its reasons and one does not have to take it on faith.
> 

In the above you seem to suggest that God and the pre-existant matter
are complimentary - have I misunderstood you? Creation came into
being by the command of God - kun (BE); the process involved an attactive
force and a recipient.

regards,
sAmAn

From haukness@tenet.eduSun Sep 10 14:03:59 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 00:12:25 -0500 (CDT)
From: John Haukness 
To: talisman 
Subject: It wasn't me.

My pseudonym got on the computor today and confused Muhammad's name with 
Ali's martyrdom, he wasn't drinking coffee either he was drinking rum, a 
liter measure, anyway I constructed a story and had him finished off in a 
duel with Zorro so he's murdered, gone, finished .

Anyway, as a representative of the most conservative, I forgot the new 
prefered term if it's a-historical, I want to welcome back Linda, who 
might represent our most liberal writer, in my eye, I wonder why we left 
and returned at the same time, anyway welcome back Linda.

I want to attempt to put a perspective on our dilemma of who is the most 
tired on the women not on the House issue. I think that I understand, and 
to a degree sympathize with the sentiments expressed about not the gender 
issue, so let me write what tires me out, is that the writings are clear 
to me on this issue, (of course others have written about just that) and 
it can get hard for me to keep seeing the recreations of the writings in 
order to have women serve on the house, the English language, can 
sometimes be simple can they not, and Abdul Baha's elaborations can be 
clear sometimes can they not, as well as helpful. So here we are stuck. I 
can see that. OK, still I wish we all could sit down at my house and 
argue about the best tejas salsa. But I do want to ask one small favor in 
this and that is that I am fond that Bahaullah made some few decisions 
incorporating gender, and if you all are going to get the House to change 
it, will you at least consider my feelings and keep the one instance of a 
gender group alive. So please do not get a change in the House to be of 
mixed gender, that would be just to standard for me, you see I like my 
salsa hot. So please just get the change to be all women in the House, I 
am sure that Bahaullah could have designed it to be all women in the 
first place and if He would have it would have been great, better for me 
because then I would be in agreement with more of the Talisman intellect 
and could perceived as a more moderate kind of guy. So please, if you all 
want to have this legislation changed then go for it, but if I count for 
anything then tell the powers that be that there is this salsa guy who 
wants to see the gender issue stay alive in the change so instead of 
making the House mixed it could just be reversed from men to women. And 
as always, Muchas Gracias!


haukness@tenet.edu


From margreet@margreet.seanet.comSun Sep 10 14:04:34 1995
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 22:13:37 -0700
From: "Marguerite K. Gipson" 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: women on UHJ

Hello fellow Talismans....

It is said we women are exempt from serving on the Universal House of Justice.  
It is not a matter of our lack of anything to keep us from serving.   It
just is.  What comes to mind with all this discussion, it shows not only a
lack of respect to the House, but also a lack of spiritual maturity as well.
Just take a look at the power of  knowledge Baha'u'llah has unleased upon
the world...
yet we still act like_____________(insert whatever here) 

In the introduction of the Kitab-i Aqdas page 7  "Abdul Baha has stated in
this Dispensation  'Equality of men and women, except in some negligible
instances, has been fully and categorically announced.' "   
And evidently, women serving on the Universal House of Justice is just going
to be one of those negligible instances.   hey you hear that....  we are
equal in all other cases... !!
But, we are promised that the reason will be clear as the noon day sun. ( my
paraphase) 

In the book Bahai  Administration  page 7 (Bahai Publishing Trust, 1968
edition)  is part  of Abdul'Baha's Will and Testament  where He states that
the Universal House of Justice is under the care and guidance of the Abha
Beauty and goes on to say what happens when we disobey, rebell, oppose,
contend with, dispute, disbelieve, deny, separate, and turn aside from what
they say....
 
My one wish is for the members of the Universal House of Justice just once
to make it thru one season  of pilgrims without having been ask the one  ol'
question about women on the House, and when will it be implementated....  I
am sure that when that happens we (goes for both men and women)  will have
reach spiritual maturity.

And I do  feel that no matter how many more times the Universal House of
Justice is elected, that women will not ever be elected to it.  Again, just
a matter of  "negligible instances."  as stated by Abdul'Baha.  

Of course, my answer to the whole thing is if you want to serve the House,
go get a Job at the World Center......  Hey, you never know.... 

What a blessing that has been bestowed upon us ladies!  Wow!  
Margreet...

PS.  I am fully aware of the station Baha'u'llah has set for us women, and I
am aware of the world goings on.   I just heard on the news that the China
conference is over and abortion is now a human right.    Imagine that,
murder is now a human right!  ( and for those who do not know, Bahais feel
that the soul is attached at the moment of conception, and it is at that
stage a living being... therefore abortion would be killing.) 




From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comSun Sep 10 14:06:25 1995
Date: Sat, 09 Sep 95 16:13:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Quddus -- part 5

[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]

Dearest Friends,

Now I know that all day long you've been sitting front the 
terminal, chewing your nails, pulling your hair, asking "So, 
where is Ahang with his wonderful postings on Quddus?  God, I 
can't wait!  Want to know more!!"  Well, despair no more, your 
prayers been answered!  Doctor to rescue ...

With your kind permission, instead of continuing with the theme 
on the unique Station of Quddus, I'm now going to switch to His 
Writings and say a few words about them.  Of course a great deal 
more remains to be said about His Station, but we'll just 
intermix them as the theme warrants.

So, here we go with everything you ever wanted to know about 
Quddus' Writings but were afraid to ask....

I think its best to initially give a survey of His Writings.  
I'll first give you a list of what we have and then comment on 
the items that He Wrote and are presently not in possession of 
the Faith.  OK?

As was mentioned yesterday, the credit for collecting and 
publishing some of the Writings of Quddus must go to the Hand of 
the Cause Fadil-i Mazandarani.  He collected 6 items from Quddus 
and published them all in his "Tarikh Zuhuru'l-Haqq", vol. 3.  
Though none of them are dated, a cursory analysis indicates that 
He wrote all of them after His return back from Atabat.  

So that this comment would make sense for some of the younger 
members of Talisman, allow me to give a *very* brief outline of 
Quddus' life -- this should help in giving everyone a frame of 
reference for our discussion of His Writings.  I emphasis that I 
like to keep it simple so that *everyone* benefit -- not just our 
renowned scholars!  But I'll give enough new materials along the 
way so that even the most learned among us would say:  "Gush, I 
didn't know that!"  So, no one will be bored.
 

Quddus was born two years after the Bab -- Baha'u'llah was two 
years older than the Bab, Who in turn was two years older than 
Quddus.  (interesting, no?)

It should be mentioned that various narratives such as 
Nuqtatu'l-Kaf, Tarikh-i Jadid, Nabil's narratives, etc., give 
varying years for His birth.  But He Himself says in one of His 
Writings that He is "two years younger than My Lord (the Bab)".  
(Another triumph for Nabil!) 

Unlike the Bab and Baha'u'llah, He was born in very humble 
settings (in His words "poor and devoid of wealth") with His 
father, Aqa Muhammad Salih, being a poor farmer engaged in rice 
cultivation.  From His mother side, His geneology can be traced 
to Imam Hasan -- and this is significant in light of a number of 
traditions about Him, (as an example see how Abdu'l-Baha in SAQ 
uses this fact and His name, Muhammad-Ali, to conclude that 
together with the Bab, They fulfilled St John's prophecy.)  In 
fact, right before His martyrdom, there was a trial, (much like 
the Bab's trial), where He was questions by various divines in 
attendance.  One of the issue raised against Him was accusation 
that He was not a Siyyid.  (Technically, to be a Siyyid, one's 
*father* must be a descendent of the Prophet, otherwise, one 
receives the title of "Mirza" -- indicating, in most cases, one's 
mother is from the family of the Prophet.)  Anyway, His clever 
response was:  "How are the Imam Husyan and Hasan related to the 
Prophet?"  Which of course the answer is through their mother, 
Fatimih!  So, His Siyyidness remained in tact, but they killed 
Him immediately after the trail anyway.

He spent the first 12 years of His life in His native town, 
today's Babul.  There are many evidences available that indicates 
from early childhood He was truly exceptional and possessed of 
innate knowledge.  His remarkable piety, devotion and brilliance 
was noted by His childhood teacher Mulla Muhammad Hamzih 
Shariatmadar.  This man was one of the chief Islamic leaders of 
the area and played a very significant role in protecting Quddus 
during later years and Quddus shortly before His own martyrdom 
entrusted His Writings to this man.  He is also the person that 
after Quddus' brutal martyrdom collected His remains (literally 
pieces of His body) and buried them in their present location.  
Shariatmadar has left us a very detailed narrative of Quddus' 
life.

But far more importantly, very recently a 100 page autobiography 
of Quddus has been located, titled Kitabu'l-Quddus, which the 
manuscript is *probably* in His own hand.  (I told you I'll have 
juicy stuff...)  More on this later ...

Anyway, at the age of 12, this bright youngster, was sent to a 
school nearby town of Sari.  Sometime later He joined a small 
group of students in Mashhad, and enrolled in the school of Mulla 
Jafar where He spent some 6 years.  Mulla Jafar, like Mulla 
Shariatmadar, was a Shaykhi and a number of future Letters of 
Living (e.g. Mulla Husayn) were his student.

Again all accounts of this period, point to His extreme piety.  
He would, very much like the Bab in Bushihr, devote long hours of 
days to intense praying and meditation.  His uprightness, 
devotion and attention to minute details of the Islamic law were 
truly exemplary.

When one thinks about it, all the Holy Figures have spent some 
portion of their life in seclusion and intense meditation.  This 
is indeed true of Quddus.  Another important consideration is the 
careful attention They paid to details of religious laws.  In 
case of Quddus, recall to mind the words of Aqay-i Kalim, who met 
Quddus in Tihran in early 1846.  

    "The charm of his person, his extreme affability, combined 
    with a dignity of bearing, appealed to even the most careless 
    observer.  Whoever was intimately associated with him was 
    seized with an insatiable admiration for the charm of that 
    youth.  We watched him one day perform his ablutions, and 
    were struck by the gracefulness which distinguished him from 
    the rest of worshipers in the performance of so ordinary a 
    rite.  He seemed, in our eyes, to be the very incarnation of 
    purity and grace."

(A personal note:  its too bad we stopped reading the Aqdas on 
Talisman.  The laws are infinitely more important than all these 
other stuff we talk about ...  But, heck, what do I know?! ...)

At the age of 18, He moved to Attabat and enrolled in the classes 
of Siyyid Kazim Rashti and became one of the disciples of the 
Shaykhi leader.  Nabil says that He studied there for 4 years, 
but, I figure only 3 years -- the math simply doesn't add up 
otherwise.  Whatever the right figure might be, what is important 
is Quddus' behavior during this period.  Several reports of this 
period indicates that He would be the last to arrive and the 
first to leave the lecture, never spoke during the classes and 
kept pretty much to Himself -- pretty much like the Bab Who spent 
about 9 months in Siyyid's classes and behaved the same way.  But 
the main difference between the Two was that Quddus dressed as a 
dervish, was consumed with Sufi thoughts, and was extremely poor.

Did the Bab and Quddus know each other in Attabat?

Unfortunately, I don't know the answer.  With neither of Them, do 
we know precisely when they were in Atabat, but we do have pretty 
good estimates.  Given that, there seems that they must have 
overlapped for a while -- at least 2 months.  Anyway, I haven't 
been able to resolve this issue.  If anyone can help with this 
question, then in space of two days and two nights, should a 
capable amanuensis be found, I shall reveal verses the equivalent 
of thrice the Qur'an in thy honor!

Getting back to our story, after Atabat, Quddus returned back to 
His native town Barfurush and remained there for one year til he 
heard of Siyyid's death.  This one year at Barfurush was the 
beginning of very intense persecution that he would suffer later 
at the hand of chief religious leader of that region, the 
deplorable Sa'idu'l-Ulama.  The cause of this persecution is very 
important since at a later stage the very root of the sever 
persecution of the Babis is based on this and it has to do with 
the tension between Usulis, Akhbaris and Shaykhi.  As much ink 
has already flowed on this topic, I'll spear the good people of 
Talisland with ugly details.

Which brings us to the Writings of Quddus.  (You were saying, 
"Damn, that boy forgot all about the Writings and instead is 
giving us a history lesson!"  Relax, there is a method to my 
madness...)

Some of the Writings of Quddus that Fadil-i Mazandarani has 
published are from this period.  Fadil implies that all 3 letters 
of Quddus (1. p 407-9, 2. p 409-14 and 3. p 414-18 of 
Zuhuru'l-Haqq, vol 3) are during this year of stay at Barfurush.  
Fadil doesn't really give a date for these letters, but strongly 
implies that they were from this period, which I must take an 
exception with Fadil on the second letter.  In my view, the 
second letter is from the period of Quddus' return back from 
pilgrimage.  At any rate, this is an insignificant point.

Before I end this posting, let me say a word about Quddus' 
handwriting.  Those of your that have suffered through MacEoin's 
Sources for the Babi Doctrinal and History, may remember that he 
blasts Quddus for his totally unreadable handwriting.  In fact, 
MacEoin has nothing good to say about Quddus' Writings and point 
blank says how fortunate we are not to have more of His Writings.  
(I'll deal with this last point later and show you what an 
utterly stupid comment it is which goes to the quality of this 
so-called scholar!!)

But for now, I just have one question for Dr. MacEoin.  Where in 
God's Kingdom did you ever see the handwriting of Quddus? 

The answer, my friends, is that he hasn't!  As with many other 
things in his book, he is just full of BS. 

The truth is there is only one piece of Writing that is confirmed 
to be in the hand of Quddus.  I have a copy of it and MacEoin has 
never seen it.  Its a single page letter.  The quality of 
penmanship is the most exquisite that one has ever seen!  Very 
much in the style of early Baha'u'llah's hand.  A facsimile will 
adorn the opening page of the book on His life and Writings.  

Well guys, I said I'll be brief, but I wasn't.  I said that I'll 
survey His Writings but I didn't.  Hell, with so many lies, you 
can just call me "MacEoin".  (But please don't.  It'll ruin our 
friendship.)

OK, so that you won't be too upset with me, I leave you with one 
last jewel.  Remember earlier mention was made about Quddus' 
Writings about Abdu'l-Baha and how in the most wondrous and 
majestic language Quddus describes the Station of the Master?  
Well, guess how He refers to Abdu'l-Baha...

He refers to Him as "sirru'llah" (The Mystery of God).

That's right folks, you heard it first right here on Talisman!  
This wonderful appellation by which Baha'u'llah refers to the 
Master in the Tablet of Branch, has its roots in the Writings of 
Quddus.

Don't you think that's the neatest thing?  Absolutely amazing!  
What an incredible connection!  Stay toned.  More neat surprises 
to come ...

lovingly, ahang.

From cbuck@ccs.carleton.caSun Sep 10 14:07:07 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 95 1:34:53 EDT
From: Christopher Buck 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Cc: Christopher Buck 
Subject: Shi`ism Universalized?

Nima writes:
^^^^^^^^^^^
IMHO, the Baha'i Faith is nothing but Shi'ism and
Sufism universalized.
___________
	Speaking for myself, I see the Baha'i Faith as an outright
paradigm shift. To grossly oversimplify the shift: from *surrender*
(including mystical notions of self-absorption in the Divine) to
*unity*.

	Carryovers of Shi`i and Sufi images I interpret in light of what
Wansbrough calls *symbolic transfer* and what I shall christen as
*symbol transformation*.

	I also see elements, in the Faith, of overt rejection of certain
Shi`ite excesses. I realize this is a radical posture I am taking. I
am also keenly aware that Baha'is with training in Islamics tend to
emphasize continuities over discontinuities.

	In terms of self-identification in matters of faith, I do not
see myself as simply a warmed-over Shi`ite. 

	As to Rumi, I believe the Mathnavi functioned as a second Qur'an
precisely because it supplemented the Qur'an--complemented it, if you
will--rather than extending it.

	I expect I'll take some flak for these views, but I firmly
believe that Baha'u'llah's break from Islam and subsequent
developments in the course of that break will prove to be far more
significant than analysis in terms of renewal. I see Baha'u'llah's
kerygma of renewal more as a rhetorical device than as a substantive
assertion, although there is much that is substantive in that assertion.

	If Baha'is are warmed-over Shi`ites, then Denis MacEoin is
right. In reference to Mary Day's post, this could mean that our
grand-daughters will wear head scarves in compliance with the Tablet
of `Abdu'l-Baha that MacEoin translates in *Rituals*.

	Christopher Buck 




From burlb@bmi.netSun Sep 10 14:10:49 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 95 01:17 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
To: "Marguerite K. Gipson" 
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: women on UHJ

> Bahais feel
>that the soul is attached at the moment of conception, and it is at that
>stage a living being... therefore abortion would be killing.) 
>
Hi Margee!
   According to the UHJ, there are situations and conditons under which
abortion may be the thing to do, and the decision is left to the woman in
consultation with her doctor.  None of us individuals have a right to pass
judgement on others, or to proclaim their medical treatments and/or
decisions "murder" or "killing" -- also we must beware lest we offend the
heart of any woman (or man for that matter) who lost a child due to abortion,.

Burl 
>


From rstockman@usbnc.orgSun Sep 10 14:12:48 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 95 07:00:11 
From: "Stockman, Robert" 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: General


     I am now back to Talisman after an absence of about 10 days, a period 
     too long and with too many messages -- about 300 -- to allow me to 
     read everything.  You all write a lot!
     
     The trip to Yellowstone was marvelous.  My best friend and I covered 
     the 1500 miles in 26 hours, and after a long night's sleep to recover 
     hiked the next day for five hours.  The day after we hiked to the top 
     of Mount Holmes; 19 miles round trip and 3000 vertical feet.  The day 
     after we rested, mostly, and drove around the park in the rain.  Our 
     last day in the park involved a mere 4-mile hike.  Altogether we saw 
     four black bears, a 200-head buffalo herd, several hundred elk, 1 
     deer, a couple dozen antelope, four or five moose, about three coyotes 
     (hard to tell the number in the woods), and I was hit on the head by a 
     flying squirrel (who quickly jumped off my head and scampered up into 
     a nearby tree.  It was a cute little thing).  The 30-hour drive back 
     to Chicago was highlighted by a six-hour lightning storm (the flashes 
     were all around us, but NEVER within 10 miles of us. The storm, which 
     lasted for almost 400 miles of driving, was extraordinary.)  We also 
     met a fascinating old man who told us of the time when two grizzly 
     bear cubs walked into his cabin while he was shelacking the ceiling.  
     He tried to shoo them out and in charged the mother bear, fierce to 
     defend her cubs.  He jumped back on his five-foot high platform--not 
     much of a defense against a bear weighing 650 pounds and standing 8 
     feet on its hind legs!  He hit her with a crowbar on the back and it 
     just made her mad.  She swung at him with her claws, missed, and 
     knocked three "2 by 4" studds out of his new wall (he had just nailed 
     them top and bottom, so they were not firmly in place).  Desperate to 
     defend himself, he poured the entire gallon bucket of shelack on the 
     bear, blinding her.  She dashed out of the cabin and was seen the rest 
     of the summer, shiny as a mirror, as she walked the area with her cubs 
     (I guess her eyesight recovered just fine).  Now he doesn't go outside 
     very far without bear repellant.
     
     Anyway, one of the reasons for my trip was a rite of passage, as it 
     were, or a last moment of freedom; for as of Thursday I started my 
     second job!  I am now 3/4 time at the National Center Research Office 
     until June, because I have now started a one-year appointment as a 
     visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at DePaul University 
     in Chicago.  I have been teaching part time at DePaul since 1990, and 
     when the professor of Islamic Studies got a Fulbright to go to Morocco 
     they asked me to consider the position until she returns.  I spoke to 
     people at the National Center and we all agreed that it strengthens 
     the Research Office (and the Institute for Baha'i Studies, which we 
     are slowly developing) if I have an Assistant Professorship on my 
     resume.  So I am now doing both jobs.  This is not as difficult as it 
     sounds because of my three classes at DePaul each quarter, two of them 
     are Religion 100, "Introduction to World Religions," which I have 
     already taught about 12 times at DePaul.  I have one new course 
     preparation this quarter and one next quarter; the spring quarter my 
     third course, "Concepts of God in the Western Religions Traditions" I 
     have also taught before.  Furthermore, visiting professors do not 
     advise students or have to serve on committees; that will save me 
     time.  I have already been working 60 hours a week, about 50 at the 
     Center and 10 at DePaul; now I expect it will be about 40/20 National 
     Center/DePaul.
     
     Nevertheless I expect to be extremely busy until June, when I will 
     resume full-time work at the National Center and part-time teaching at 
     DePaul.  This means I will appear much more rarely on Talisman.  I 
     simply do not have the time to keep up.
     
     For those wishing to reach me, September-November I will be at DePaul 
     Tuesdays and Thursdays and at the Baha'i National Center Mondays, 
     Wednesdays, and Fridays (though not all of those days; when I drive in 
     from Indiana I rarely reach the office before 10:30 a.m., and 
     sometimes I have to leave early to get home for feast or LSA).  I will 
     be in South Bend weekends, and also working.  My DePaul University 
     phone has voice mail; its number is 312-325-7000, x1271.  My DePaul 
     e-mail account is rstockma@wppost.depaul.edu, and I should know how to 
     access it in a week or so.  January through June my DePaul teaching 
     will fall on MWF mornings and early afternoons, so I will be at the 
     National Center Tues/Thurs and some MWF late afternoons.  I will also 
     be driving from South Bend to Chicago (a 2 hour drive) at odd times, 
     sometimes leaving as early as 6 a.m.  Ugh.
     
     I ask for patience for those who need Research Office assistance; I 
     may be slower in responding.  But all of this should ultimately prove 
     good for the Research Office; I will know religion better, and have 
     more academic experience.  The entire exhausting process will also 
     have a fitting reward at the end; my wife and I just received 
     permission to go on pilgrimage June 24-July 2, 1996.
     
           -- Rob Stockman

From rstockman@usbnc.orgSun Sep 10 14:13:12 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 95 07:00:04 
From: "Stockman, Robert" 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: interpreter/expounder


In a recent message it was noted:


To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: Is Quddus a Manifestation?

[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]

Dear Chris:

I deeply appreciate your encouragement -- it shows that at least 
one person is reading the stuff, so perhaps it isn't a waste of 
time after all.  I was beginning to wonder if *anyone* was 
reading, or were people just politely tolerating me.

You aptly wrote:

> What does all of this mean? Are Quddus's theophanic locutions
> simply ecstatic utterances representing an extension of the 
> Bab's own revelation? Is Quddus the Babi *al-Hallaj*?

> Or are we to read the writings of Quddus--which the Bab 
> referred to as *evident magic* or *palpable sorcery*--a little 
> more literally? If read literally, especially in light of the 
> praise the Central Figures of the Faith lavish on him, the 
> writings of Quddus could be interpreted as revelation. 

> Quddus proclaims himself a Manifestation. Quddus writes like a
> Manifestation. In the Master's interpretation [or, in one of 
> his two interpretations] of the *Tale of the City* in the heart 
> of the Qur'an, Quddus figures as an Apostle along with the Bab.

I fully agree with everything you said.  There is absolutely no 
question that His Writings form part of the Babi Revelation and 
that He ranks as a Manifestation of God.  To appreciate Quddus' 
caliber of discourse, one must turn to His Writings.  
Unfortunately, outside of the 6 short pieces that Fadil has 
published of them (which are *not* at all representative of His 
Writings), nothing else has been printed of Him.  We'll have at 
least another 20 items by Quddus (and perhaps some of His 
utterances) published soon.  

Revelation, is Revelation.  Nothing else compares to it.  Mirza 
Abdu'l-Fadl in his masterpiece, Fara'id explains that when those 
endowed with understanding come upon the Revealed Word, they will 
immediately recognize it's potent and sublime character.  So, to 
appreciate the nature of Quddus' Writings, the best we can do is 
to turn to them.  Hence, my humble efforts to get His Writings 
published.  Let the community see for itself what wondrous words 
He wrote.  (BTW, in my view, this is the only way to neutralize 
the poisonous comments of MacEoin and Amanat -- individuals who 
had no allegiance to the Faith, hence utterly failed to 
understand the transcendent character of Quddus' Writings.)

You saw what Baha'u'llah said about His Writings and how in the 
most direct language Quddus refers to this Dispensation.  
Abdu'l-Baha also had seen them -- in all probability in Baghdad 
as that's when they were all collected and transcribed.  

In a Tablet Abdu'l-Baha says:  

      "Hadrat-i Quddus, ruhy lahu'l-fada, yik Kitab dar tafsir 
      Samad nazil farmudand.  Az unvan-i Kitab ta nahayatash Iny 
      Ana'llah ast"  (His Holiness Quddus, may My spirit be 
      sacrificed for Him, Revealed a Book as commentary on Samad 
      (Singleness).  From the Title to the end utters:  I am 
      God.)
      
Again, elsewhere Abdu'l-Baha states:

      His Holiness Quddus, may My spirit be sacrificed for Him, 
      was the essence which manifested that (the Bab's) Sun of 
      Truth.  He was a brilliant Light, luminous Star, the 
      essence of purity and quintessence of transcendence.  And 
      of course a hundred thousand 'I am God' was Revealed by His 
      blessed Tongue.  However, this incomparable Essence, tells 
      that He knows none other than His Lord (the Bab) and that 
      He is His wondrous Reflection and his faithful Servant.
      
One could go on for quit a while and quote extensively from 
Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha about the nature and the wonder in 
the Quddus's Revealed Words.  But I think through the few 
quotations that we've seen in the past 2 days, a clear picture is 
coming to focus.


You further commented:

> So, Ahang, my question is this: We know Quddus is important.
> But why is he important? It would be a tautology to say Quddus 
> is important because the Central Figures say so. The question 
> remains: What is Quddus's role? What did he do that surpasses 
> Mulla Husayn? Or are we simply to accept Quddus's importance as 
> a matter of faith?

This is an excellent question and really must be attempted by 
those much abler than I -- such as yourself.  But now that people 
are tolerating my incoherent ramblings, let me try an answer.

What the Principle Luminaries of our Faith (to include Shoghi 
Effendi) say about Quddus *is* important.  For one thing, they 
serve as a guide for us to look for the right things.  
Abdu'l-Baha's characterization of Quddus' Writings help us to 
know what Quddus' literary signature was like -- it was the most 
luminous projection of Divine Attributes through His sayings of 
"I am God."  And if nothing else, such statements by the Master 
has been of tremendous help in deciding what is by Quddus and 
what is possible forgery!  

Further, how are we to understand the station of Quddus?  Through 
history?  Hardly.  He is Who He is!  In rank and station a 
Manifestation of God Who appeared under the shadow of yet 
another.  In fact the truly amazing thing about the Bab is that 
Two other Manifestations appeared with Him -- Baha'u'llah and 
Quddus.  And that Both the Bab and Quddus had no other purpose 
than to pave the way and extol the Supreme Station of 
Baha'u'llah!  (Amazing stuff!  I tell you, we stand far too close 
to the towering shadow of the Founders of our Faith to be even 
able to gain a barest glimpse of their sublime station.)

Now, having said this, you queried about Quddus' role.  You asked 
"what did he do that surpassed Mulla Husayn?"  I think you're 
looking for some kind of historical explanation.  Again, we must 
turn to those on Talisman with proper training and expertise on 
such matters, but since I happen to be logged on the computer let 
me comment.

A distinguishing feature of the Bab's and Baha'u'llah's 
Dispensations is that during the course of their Ministry, 
because of exiles, They were removed from their community.  By 
mid point in the Bab's Ministry, this became a real practical 
problem.  While He had given some initial instructions to His 
chief disciples to spread throughout the realm and execute 
various instructions (mostly about teaching the new born Faith), 
by the summer of 1847, the Bab realized that it was propitious to 
launch a more organized effort to propagate the Cause.  At any 
rate, some of the Letters of the Living needed to be re-focused 
in their efforts.  They needed on-going guidance.

His problem was that He was banished to Mah-Ku and in effect cut 
from His community.  For all practical purposes, the community 
had no leader to serve as a rallying point to provide daily 
management of the affairs.  This is where, in God's inscrutable 
wisdom, Quddus came in.  Quddus became a defacto leader of the 
Babi community in lieu of the Bab.  He had the God-given 
spiritual capacities to serve this purpose.  

Now, remember from history, how when Mulla Husayn came on foot to 
Mah-Ku, the Bab instructed him to go back on foot and search for 
the "Hidden Treasure" in Mazandaran.  It was for the next nearly 
two years that Quddus became the focus of all significant Babi 
activities.  He was the principle teacher of the new Message in 
Mashhad, which the Bab lent his utmost support by issuing the 
call:  Hasten to Khurasan.  Quddus was the very reflection of the 
Bab and recall how the Bab even bestow upon Him, His own title!  
Quddus is the one that gave the title of Siyyid Ali to Mulla 
Husayn -- a few historians have reported this title came from the 
Bab, but there is good evidence to the contrary.  And of course 
the final act of this divine drama was played out in Mazandaran 
and all the available Letters of the Living (11 of them) stood 
under the shadow of Quddus during that siege of Fort Tabarsi -- 
of which 10 fell as martyrs.  Fort Tabarsi episode, to be sure, 
is the most significant single event of the Babi Dispensation, 
save the Bab's Night of Declaration.

You asked:  what did Quddus do that surpassed Mulla Husayn.  The 
answer is given by Nabil.  At the instruction of the Bab, Mulla 
Husayn had no trouble to recognize and instantly begin to obey 
Quddus -- remember what Baha'u'llah says in K1 of Kitab-i Aqdas!  
Anyway, from the fall of 1847 to March of 1849, til his last 
breath, Mulla Husayn served his newly found Lord, Quddus.  Again, 
this is what the Bab wanted him to do -- to follow the commands 
of Quddus as if they were the Bab's own self. 

In the final analysis, the importance of Quddus lies in the 
importance of the Bab.  Quddus is nothing more than a reflection 
of the glory of the Bab.  He is the Moon which received its light 
from the Sun of Reality of the Bab.

To understand Quddus, to approach His Writings in a prayful 
attitude, provide us a window to understand the Supreme Station 
of the Bab, which in turn will guide us to the Threshold of 
Baha'u'llah.

with deepest love, ahang.

From derekmc@ix.netcom.comSun Sep 10 14:43:09 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 10:52:39 -0700
From: DEREK COCKSHUT 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Abortion and the Baha'i Faith.

In the letter of the Universal House of Justice of January 1993 on 
Violence and Sexual Abuse of Women and Children, the matter of rape is 
dealt with in a very direct manner.The victim  is entitled 
to the full support and backing of her community in whatever action she 
may take , which the letter states includes if she decides after 
consulting her docter and considoring the Writings ,termination of the 
pregnancy.So not only can a woman have an abortion in those 
circumstances, she has to be supported by the community, in addtion to 
offering love and caring, by  financial assistance if required, as I 
view this ruling.I have also regarded the Teachings on this 
matter  as a prohibtion in respect of a form of Birth 
Control.In the final analyis we have to trust the judgement of the 
person intimately involved that they are following the Writings in the 
Faith.Abortion is a sad and intensely painful experience for a woman to 
have to undergo, Love is needed as I see it not calls to 
Judgement.Kindest Regards Derek Cockshut

From mfoster@tyrell.netSun Sep 10 14:43:46 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 12:57:01 -0500 (EDT)
From: "Mark A. Foster" 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Abortion 

To: talisman@indiana.edu

Talismanians -
    
    Burl and Linda beat me to it, but I also wanted to comment on 
Margreet's reference to abortion:
    
    Margreet is a dear soul, and I doubt that she meant what she said 
literally. However, I will leave it to her to defend her comments (if 
she so chooses).
    
    As I read her comment, she stated that abortion is killing, which, 
if we assume that life starts at conception, is certainly the case. The 
issue is whether it is murder. That gets into the legal aspects of 
terminating a pregnancy. Questions such as these have been left to the 
Universal House of Justice, which, to my knowledge, has declined comment 
- except to say that a woman should not have an abortion "merely because 
she wants one" and that the final decision is in the hands of the woman 
and her physician. 
    
    As I understand it, though I may be incorrect, the House is telling 
us that abortion is at least (?) permissible in cases of medical 
difficulties. However, the question of exactly what would constitute a 
medical difficulty has not, as far as I know, been established as policy 
by the Supreme Body. For instance, would it include psychological 
trauma? At least for now, the decision is an individual one. It seems to 
me that the present policy (or lack of one) is, given the volatility of 
this issue in many parts of the world, understandable.
    
    Blessings,
    
       Mark   

From brburl@mailbag.comSun Sep 10 14:44:32 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 13:05:08 -0500
From: Bruce Burrill 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Buddhist/Baha'i unity

Moojan,

Thank you for your posting on the similarities between the Buddhist Four
Noble Truths and the Baha'i writings. This raises several questions. Do you
feel that when we look at the fuller Buddhist context of the FNT and fuller
Baha'i context of the Baha'i passages you quote that the similarities hold?

Given that the FNT is a specific application of a general formula of the
Buddhist notion of causality, _paticcasamuppada_, conditioned co-production,
the claim that the Baha'i quotes are up to the same sort of process as found
in the FNT seems less than cogent.

> "The Fourth Noble Truth is the Path leading to the ending of
suffering. It is the Noble Eightfold Path. All of the elements of
this Path are also supported in the Baha'i writings." <

Could you give us a detailed example with the first the Eightfold path, Right
View/Understanding?

Bruce


From LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduSun Sep 10 14:46:27 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 95 11:56:01 EWT
From: LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.edu
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: abortion

Dear Burl, thank you for your reasonable comments on abortion.  I am appalled
when I hear Baha'is discuss abortion in the same way that our fundamentalist
Christian neighbors do.  I will not comment further.  I don't want to start a
new war.  But I do wish that Baha'is would look at difficult social issues in a
braoder light and with a bit more compassion.  Linda

From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comSun Sep 10 14:46:58 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 95 12:24:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: Shi`ism Universalized?

[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]

Dear Chris,

I just wanted to say that I appreciate your comments that while 
the Faith has preserved certain elements of Shi'ism, we would 
fail to accord Baha'u'llah and the Bab their rightful dues by 
reducing their Revelation simply to resurrection of Shi'ite 
theology and doctrine.  I see such oversimplications in a number 
of places.

You also wrote:

> As to Rumi, I believe the Mathnavi functioned as a second 
> Qur'an precisely because it supplemented the 
> Qur'an--complemented it, if you will--rather than extending it.

> I expect I'll take some flak for these views ...

Yes, brother, you're about to.  :-}  Prophecy fulfilled.

As important as Rumi is, we can't begin to exaggerate his import 
or attribute Divine Inspiration to him -- until and unless 
someone can show a Text from our Scripture to this effect.  
Certainly, the notion that Mathnavi is in some way supplementing 
and/or complementing the Qur'an, would have been foreign to Rumi.  

Now, I should explain, that I'm using the terms suppl. and compl. 
in the sense that the beloved Guardian used them to refer to the 
10 supplementary Tablets of Baha'u'llah (Bisharat, Ishraqat, ...) 
and the Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha.  It implies that there 
is something in the addition Text that the original lacked.

And I don't think you meant to imply that Qur'an perhaps lacked 
certain things that Rumi came along and *added*.  I think what 
Rumi, 'Attar, Jami, Hafiz, Abu-Sa'id Abu'l-Khayr, ... did was 
simply to restate the Qur'an.  Because of their eloquence, their 
poetry happen to appeal to a large segment of the population.  
But it really is no more than that.  


Again, thanks for saying we are not "warmed-over" shi'ites.  I 
could picture my grandfather, a former Zoroastrian, rolling over 
in his grave...

lovingly, ahang.

From sbedin@gov.nt.caSun Sep 10 16:27:54 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 12:58:53 MDT
From: Stephen R Bedingfield 
To: rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.com
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Approaching the House (was missing Hands...)

Greetings Ahang-jan,
 
Your posting about approaching the House on issues brings up some interesting
points, especially concerning the intentions of those approaching ones.
Storming the citadel, as you say, is clearly out of place.
 
Ahang, you said (quoting me quoting you):
> > > I don't know why the list of Hands available in various places 
> > > doesn't get modified in face of clear and irrefutable Texts.  My 
> > > guess is that the House is waiting for certain individuals to pass 
> > > from the scene before making such modifications.
> 
> > Well, I guess you could put a precis together and ask the House.
> 
> Actually, I think its best to wait.  On a number of occasions 
> different members of the House explained that sometimes its best 
> *not* to ask.  Because, once you ask, then you're stuck with the 
> answer.

Yes, I have heard this too though not from House members themselves.
Is this line of reasoning not intimidating?  I feel anyone can approach
the House of Justice with any concerns, comments or recommendations.  In the
case of recommendations or seeking endorsement of a view, of course, you
should have your impartial research completed, and, depending on the issue, 
have had the Research Dept collaboration/assistance on the issue.
 
What does being "stuck with the answer" mean?  Do you mean that the answer
does not meet with the expectations/approval of the inquirer?  I guess that
is the inquirer's spiritual test.
 
If being ""stuck with the answer" means that it then becomes unalterable, then
this conclusion is unwarranted.  For example, often the House will not
comment on an issue because it is not timely; or the House will advise that it
does not know because the references have not been found, or the research not
undertaken, and it is unwilling to advise; or the inquiry is such that it
demands an interpretation which the House will not make (is not able to make).
 
An example on a non-legislative issue: a Knight of Baha'u'llah recently
told me that "u" was quite surprised that the House of Justice was reviewing
Shoghi Effendi's list of Crusade "virgin" territorries.  But of course, even
this, set by Shoghi Effendi himself, is not immutable as the designation of
"virgin" goals was not interpretation but a directive as Head of the Faith.
 
 
> For example, if the authors of the "Service of Women" paper had 
> kept things at a low key, continued with their research and along 
> the way discussed the matter with the Research Dept and not gone 
> public with it, then the House of Justice would have never been 
> *forced* into making a pronouncement.  From everything that I 
> understand, they didn't want to make a statement and would have 
> wished that the researchers kept things quite for a while til 
> their findings reached a mature state -- which presently is no 
> where near such a stage! -- and worked with the World Centre 
> towards a better understanding of the issues by everyone, but, 
> alas, ...

I agree that their "findings" were no where near a mature stage, though
I am NOT one to talk as I have not even contributed one posting to
Talisman's women / UHJ discussion.

 
> Anyway, I understand the Encyclopedia folks approached the House 
> on the question of the missing Hands and were told to stick to 
> the 50 listed Hands.  Thank God, no body tried to fight this 
> decision and turn it into another impasse.  So, in a few years 
> time, perhaps this issue (with sufficient documentation) can be 
> brought to the attention of the House.
> 
Yes, of course.

Loving regards, my friend,

Stephen

From haukness@tenet.eduSun Sep 10 16:28:21 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 14:33:15 -0500 (CDT)
From: John Haukness 
To: LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.edu
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: women

Allah-u-abha Friends: So perhaps we have an extension of Islam here, the 
correlation between Fatima and the Greatest Holy Leaf (who I believe is 
the greatest heroine in any era, an appellation from no less source than 
her father, I think I might be correct on this, if not I can murder 
another of my pseudonym's) actually I think this topic may head into the 
painful for some catagory so I will try my best to stay clear of that, 
but the painful part I will at least have to identify, is that the 
tradition we are talking about fromFatima to Bahiyyih Khanum would be, 
what that they were very reserved women, I don't know what word to use 
except reserved. But when Linda mentions Mary M. what distinction are we 
talking about besides Mary M and Fatima? That is who effected society 
more? Do we know? Is this possibly to quantify? I guess I would surmise 
that the Greatest Holy Leaf affected society the most. But I enjoy 
Linda's question. Seems to me our other Khanum is a very effective 
outspoken women and she happens to be a Hand. Can we not be devotional to 
the Greatest Leaf though? Is our NSA chair a woman this year, or was it 
last, seems her and her husband rotate. Anyway let's get on with the 
elevation of women. Respecting Linda's thoughtful post.

From haukness@tenet.eduSun Sep 10 16:28:37 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 14:41:44 -0500 (CDT)
From: John Haukness 
To: Ahang Rabbani 
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: Is Quddus a Manifestation?

Allah-u-abha Friends: Of course Ahang we are all reading this stuff, some 
of us are too stunned to let you know. It's great! But as an aside, your 
comment that Quddus is a Manifestation, I am not convinced. so I have to 
be left out of the statement so of course we realize He was a 
Manifestation of God. Yes I am reading very slowly Abdul Baha's 
appellation of Quddus, did I miss something, I guess I want to read 
precisely those words in precisely that order from Bahaullah, the Bab, or 
Quddus, 'Quddus is a Manifestation of God' but I don't think I read it as 
precise as that. There always has to be a last to fall in line I guess.



haukness@tenet.edu


From nima@unm.eduSun Sep 10 16:29:11 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 13:48:22 -0600 (MDT)
From: Sadra 
To: Ahang Rabbani 
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: Shi`ism Universalized?

> Certainly, the notion that Mathnavi is in some way supplementing 
> and/or complementing the Qur'an, would have been foreign to Rumi.  

Dear Ahang & Talizens--

My grandfather is currently using my Persian copy of the Mathnavi, so I 
don't have the text in front of me right now, but please read the Arabic 
prolegomena: "hadha kitabu'l Mathnavi wa huwa'l usul usul usul usul 
din..." This is the book of the Mathnavi and it is the kernel of the 
kernel of the kernel of the kernel of the religion (i.e. Islam)..." 
Although I believe this opening was added by his son Sultan 
Valad, I'm not completely sure on this, though, certainly Rumi himself 
thought his Mathnavi to be some kind of supreme ta'wil of the Quran, thus 
complementing it, as did Ibn `Arabi of his Futuhat al-Makkiyya.

Regards,
Nima

From haukness@tenet.eduSun Sep 10 16:29:24 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 14:54:58 -0500 (CDT)
From: John Haukness 
To: "Mark A. Foster" 
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Abortion 

Allah-u-abha Friends: I did not see this in Marguerite's post that we 
annot have an abortion in terms of rape or medical problems and I'm 
wondering why others see that she did. I assumed she was talking about 
our present day use of abortion as a convenience and I find that from the 
writings she is correct. I am not arguing that the current practice of 
abortion for birth control is not a hard struggle for people and that 
compassion is essential for us, and support for all people involved. But 
it seems to me, in my opinion, from my reading of the writings, that Marg 
is correct, that we support the women's decision in cases of rape or 
medical complications but that Baha'is in birthcontrol decisions support 
the child. Are not we supposed to rely on House decisions?

From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comSun Sep 10 16:29:34 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 95 14:26:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: Approaching the House (was missing Hands...)

[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]

Dearest Stephen:

I think you're quite correct in your admonishment.  I stand 
corrected.  Thanks very much.

Incidentally, I *really* appreciate your gentle and loving ways.  
You help in setting a fine example of how *Baha'i* consultation 
should take place.  Thank you very much for that, too.

lovingly, ahang.  

From Alethinos@aol.comSun Sep 10 16:36:04 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 16:16:19 -0400
From: Alethinos@aol.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: America 

Dear Terry:

    Somehow there continues to be a gross misunderstanding on the primary
elements of this issue. Nowhere have I stated that in order to redeem America
we have to blast it. That would indeed be completely counterproductive.
Nowhere have I stated that in addressing a new vision of America to our
general audience we should denegrate the land they were raised in and that
they love.

   Socrates and Plato both loved Athens, and wanted desperately to help it to
truly achieve greatness. This could not be done by simply praising all of its
wonderful qualities while ignoring the very fundamental elements that had
caused the weakening; nor could it be done by designing a whole host of
euphemisitic terms and metaphors with the express purpose of avoiding
*stepping on toes*. 

   The method we need to use was, in general, laid out by the Gaurdian
himself. While repeatedly pointing out the strengths and positive elements of
America - illustrating where the Baha'i Faith and America have so much in
common - he also showed the fundamental weaknesses that needed to be
addressed. 

  In order to successfully deliver the message we do indeed have to strike
that resonanting patriotic cord within our listener. I have no problem with
this because I too love this country. But the *problems* with this country do
not lie in its strengths - so there is no point in waving the flag and trying
to have everyone believe us when we say how much we love America if we are
also trying to offer the healing medicine (which generally tastes terrible to
the patient) - you know kids don't buy it when mom and dad try to convince
them that the green stuff from the bottle REALLY DOES taste goooood. 

You suggest that we present corporate capitialism as the *bad guy* - the
promoter of capitialism, alien to the true spirit of America. Unfortunately
this approach won't work, and never has worked really. While there is a
romantic notion of populism in America it has never really manifested itself
efficiently. I think the reasons are many why this movement has never caught
on. On the cultural level it has always been presented as a very sterile,
spatan type of lifestyle - dull and boring to an America that views itself as
fast-moving, alive, energetic. And it does harken back to the puritans - and
all the most negative elements of that sub-culture. 

Your reference to the SCLC and the Movement of MLK would be a more successful
approach.

I will write more later - gotta take the kids swimming now . . .


jim harrison


Alethinos@aol.com  

From jrcole@umich.eduSun Sep 10 16:50:20 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 16:37:37 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: women sufis


Linda:  I'm not sure exactly what you meant to say in suggesting that
Rabi`ah was the only woman Sufi Nima could come up with.
 
Medieval biographical dictionaries of Sufis often had a section at the
back devoted entirely to women; this is true, e.g. of the Indian Safinat
al-awliya'.  It seems clear that in gender-segregated Muslim communities
women threw up their own leaders, including mystical ones; in places like
India such women often had cross-gender and cross-communal adherents.
 
It is true that women Sufi leaders have been much less studied than the
men; it is also true that their works and words (malfuzat) did not tend
to get transmitted institutionally through Khanqahs, and so, in a
manuscript culture, were lost in enormous numbers.  But this is a problem
of visibility to history and to us, and of the focus of historiography,
which has until recently been male-oriented.  But as for the reality of
large numbers of women mystics of some importance in Islamic history,
this does not seem to me to be in doubt.
 
 
cheers   Juan


From jrcole@umich.eduSun Sep 10 22:34:34 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 16:49:17 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: hidden motivations


Ahmad:  I'm sorry, but I still do not feel that you have engaged with my 
points in a thorough and intellectually cogent way.  

I also have to say that I am disappointed that you chose to suggest that 
I made these arguments out of hidden motives.  I do not know what you 
meant by this exactly, but where I come from, them's fightin' words.  
They are also contrary to the spirit of Talisman discussion, where we 
assume everyone's good faith.  Since you are new and may be unaware of 
this convention, I will not make a big deal out of it.  But if I hear any 
more about hidden motives, I will have no choice but to do so.

As for your premises, that `Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi were 
omniscient and propositions drawn from their statements always inerrant, 
I agree that this is a widespread belief in the Baha'i community.  Had 
you been on Talisman earlier, you would have been presented with a good 
deal of textual evidence from the Writings that this point of view is 
simply unfounded.  I am reluctant to repost all of it now, but perhaps 
you could contact Sen or Eric to see if either has it conveniently 
archived and can share it with you.

Finally, you have not responded to my point about principle, i.e., 
that `Abdu'l-Baha says that equal human rights for all under the law is a 
key teaching of Baha'u'llah; it seems fairly obvious that for women to be 
excluded from some forms of administrative rights solely on the basis of 
their sex is for them to be denied a human right and is discriminatory.
In what way is this compatible with Baha'i teachings over all?


regards    Juan Cole, History, Univ. of Michigan

From Don_R._Calkins@commonlink.comSun Sep 10 22:34:56 1995
Date: 10 Sep 1995 15:31:54 GMT
From: "Don R. Calkins" 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Baha'i Administration

All -
Why, in so many of the discussions here on the administration of the FAith,
including the role of women, has there been so much emphasis on power?  It
appears to me that too much of the discussion has been based on the
philosophies of an over-masculinized, authoritarian, paternalistic old world
order.  It seems to me that if we are to truly have a *new* world order, it
will require abandoning power as the basis for *all* relationships, including
between the individual and insitutions.  

For about the past 6000 years, civilization has been increasingly dominated
by power.  Since the formation of the Universal House of Justice completing
the Baha'i Administrative Order, this pre-occupation with power seems to have
been taken to the rediculous extreme.  I'm beginning to wonder if this is
part of the reason for women not being on the Universal House of Justice.  Is
it possible that humanity is being asked to develope to the point that
equality can be attained without power?

Don C



He who believes himself spiritual proves he is not - The Cloud of Unknowing


From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comSun Sep 10 22:35:24 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 95 15:19:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Rumi

[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]

Nima jan:

Of course you know infinitely more about Rumi and this sort of 
things than all the rest of us, but just to continue to learn 
from you let's pursue it a bit more...

Even if the Mathnavi's introduction was written by Rumi, to say 
that Mathnavi contains the essence of Qur'an ("usul din"), is not 
a confirmation of the complementary aspect of Mathnavi.  ("Asl"= 
the essence, seems to be a favorite word of Rumi in Divan-i 
Shams, no?)

Now, what I'm hoping you will take a few minutes to share back 
with us is in what way does Mathnavi or Divan-i Shams *add* 
certain details to Qur'an?

Let me offer an example of the sort of thing I'm looking for:  
the Qur'an anticipated appearance of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, but 
remained silent on many aspect of their Lives.  But Rumi's 
Divan-i Shams does offer some *additional* (hence complementary!) 
information, such as the fact that the Bab will appear in Shiraz, 
will go on Pilgrimage, will be martyred in Tabriz, and that 
Baha'u'llah will be born in the realm of Nur (in Mazandaran), His 
Ministry will last 40 years, His son, Abbas, will success Him, 
many martyrs of this Dispensation, etc.  I think if we're able to 
point to these sort of details that Rumi provides which are 
clearly absent in Qur'an then a credible case is made for his 
divine inspiration and the supplementary nature of his poetry. 

Does that make any sense?  

I really think this could be pretty interesting ...  It could be 
a fairly major effort to search through Divan-i Shams (and 
Mathnavi) for references to the Babi and Baha'i Dispensations.  
But, what a great gift that would be ...  And no one more capable 
than thy august self to tackle it!

much love, ahang.

From Member1700@aol.comSun Sep 10 22:52:33 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 20:18:33 -0400
From: Member1700@aol.com
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Abortion

I must concur with Burl and with Linda on this issue.  As I understand it, it
is not only in circumstances of rape or incest (the ultimate horrors) that
the decision concerning abortion is left to the woman involved, but under all
circumstances.  
   I think that we all understand that using abortion as a form of birth
control is forbidden in the Faith.  But, in the actual events, there are
thousands of different circumstances that might lead a woman to seek an
abortion as the right decision.  And therefore, as the House of Justice has
indicated, this decision must be left to the individual woman--with her
taking into account the advise of doctors, the teachings of the Faith, and if
necessary advise of the institutions of the Faith.  Yet, still the decision
is hers and no institutional decision can be enforced upon her.  
    Under such circumstances, it seems to me that the proper position of the
community is to extend compassion and support to anyone in such a painful,
tragic situation.  

Regards, 
Tony

From mfoster@tyrell.netSun Sep 10 22:53:56 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 19:19:20 -0500 (EDT)
From: "Mark A. Foster" 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Univ. Shi`ism/Sufism 

To: talisman@indiana.edu

Talismanians,
    
    As I see it, there is truth to what Nima wrote about the Baha'i 
Faith being a universalization of Shi'ism and Sufism. From my POV (point 
of view), each new Dispensation represents the dialectical synthesis of 
those that came before it. If, for instance, the essential message of 
Moses was obedience, and that of Jesus was individual love, then the 
central theme of Islam was loving obedience (or submission). 
    
    Likewise, the mysteries of return in Hinduism, expressed as 
transmigration (or metempsychosis), which did not, as far as I know, 
clearly distinguish between humans and animals (much as the Tanakhian 
notion of nifish was applicable to both animals and humans), was 
resolved in the Buddhist concept of reincarnation which, IMV, affirmed 
the distinctiveness of the human species - much like the mysteries of 
return were, in the relationship between Elijah and John the Baptist, 
elucidated of the Christian Dispensation. 
    
    The conflicts within and between the various chapters 
(Dispensations) of the book (religion) of God are resolved in future 
chapters. However, there are always new conflicts (mysteries) introduced 
by each of the divine Revelators which remain to be synthesized in 
future eras. Moreover, the ministry of each Manifestation, according to 
the Bab, is the resurrection (perfecting) of the previous religion, and 
the first to recognize the Manifestation of God is the greatest 
representative of the virtues called forth by the previous Messenger.
    
    I would not, myself, want to refer to the Baha'i Faith as a 
universalized form of Shi'ism or Sufism. However, it may be mostly a 
semantic matter. IMHO, the basic principle is sound. 
    
    Blessings,
    
       Mark
               


                                                

From Member1700@aol.comSun Sep 10 22:55:57 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 20:32:05 -0400
From: Member1700@aol.com
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women, Saints, and Power

If it will make anyone feel any better, Kalimat Press recently did include
some of the prayers of the Greatest Holy Leaf in its most recent children's
prayer book.  It seemed to me that, since she had revealed prayers, she
certainly intended them to be said by someone.  We may have missed a few
generations there, but I intend to start with this one to get things back on
track.  (Yes, I do plan more children's prayer books with her prayers in
them.)  
    As to equality having nothing to do with power, ha! (Forgive me, I really
must laugh here.)  I don't think that any impartial person would take that
argument seriously for a second.  
    A friend of mine attended a women's conference and spoke with some
feminist delegates who were generally against religion.  Their beliefs were
that all religions were sexists and had teachings that reinforced patriarchy.
 (Of course, I don't agree, and neither did she, but that was the feminist
line at the time.)  Anyway, she tried to introduce them to the Baha'i Faith,
explaining that one of the basic principles of the Faith was the equality of
men and women.  
    They were utterly unimpressed and replied that ALL religions claim that
they teach the equality of men and women.  They had only one question for
her:  "In this religion of yours, is there any possibility that the highest
office [meaning, the head] of the community might be held by a woman?"  They
had heard all the Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. arguments--and this was
their acid test.  When she answered no, they were uninterested in hearing
anything further.  

Warmest, 
Tony

From brburl@mailbag.comSun Sep 10 22:56:36 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 20:31:11 -0500
From: Bruce Burrill 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: POV - before or after?

Mark,

> "From my POV (point of view), each new Dispensation represents the
dialectical synthesis of those that came before it. ... Likewise, the mysteries
of return in Hinduism, expressed as transmigration (or metempsychosis),
which did not, as far as I know, clearly distinguish between humans and
animals ..., was resolved in the Buddhist concept of reincarnation which,
IMV, affirmed the distinctiveness of the human species...." <

Would you say that your POV is what came to light as a result of a careful
study of the supposed "dialectical synthesis" of the supposed dispensations,
or could it be that the supposed "dialectical synthesis" is just a back-reading
of your POV?

Hinduism (or what we generally understand as Hinduism) is essentially a
post-Buddha phenomenon, an amalgam of the Brahmanical Vedic traditions
with the non-Brahmanic (non-Vedic) forest traditions, of which Buddhism
was a major player. Reincarnation/rebirth was _not_ the coin of the realm,
and within pre-Buddha Brahmanism it was only one of a number of
possibilities considered. It was only with the muscular influences of
Buddhism, Jainism and yoga, did Brahmanism adopt reincarnation as part and
parcel of its world view. The Bhagavad Gita illustrates this very nicely.

Buddhism regards being a human as a precious and rare thing. It is something
that can be lost by over-reaching oneself and becoming a god, or it can be
lost in the other direction. It is not so much that the man wills, but that the
will mans.

Bruce


From burlb@bmi.netSun Sep 10 22:57:18 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 95 19:32 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
To: Member1700@aol.com
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women, Saints, and Power

Tony told the story:
>.  When she answered no....

        Why did she answer no?  The answer is YES!  Being a member of the
Universal House of Justice is *not* the highest station in the Baha'i Faith
-- not even close. Not even in the stadium, let alone the ballpark!

The absolute "Highest Station" is not available to any of us -- the station
of Prophet of God.
But for the rest of us, Abdul Baha delineates the ones that are open to us:
"The *rank and station*, the pleasure and peace, of an individual
have never consisted in his personal wealth,
but rather in his excellent character, his high resolve,
the breadth of his learning, and his ability to solve difficult
problems."  Abdul-Baha

1. The highest station, the supreme sphere, the noblest,
most sublime position in creation, whether visible or
invisible, whether alpha or omega, is that of the Prophets
of God, notwithstanding the fact that for the most
part they have to outward seeming been possessed of
nothing but their own poverty. 

2.  In the same way, ineffable glory is set apart for the Holy Ones and those
who are nearest to the Threshold of God, although
such as these have never for a moment concerned themselves
with material gain. 

3.  Then comes the station of those just kings whose fame as protectors of
the people
and dispensers of Divine justice has filled the world,
whose name as powerful champions of the people's
rights has echoed through creation.  These give no
thought to amassing enormous fortunes for themselves;
they believe, rather, that their own wealth lies in enriching
their subjects.  To them, if every individual citizen
has affluence and ease, the royal coffers are full.
They take no pride in gold and silver, but rather in
their enlightenment and their determination to achieve
the universal good.

4.  Next in rank are those eminent and honorable ministers
of state and representatives, who place the will of
God above their own, and whose administrative skill
and wisdom in the conduct of their office raises the science
of government to new heights of perfection.  They
shine in the learned world like lamps of knowledge;
their thinking, their attitudes and their acts demonstrate
their patriotism and their concern for the country's advancement.
Content with a modest stipend, they consecrate
their days and nights to the execution of important
duties and the devising of methods to insure the
progress of the people.  Through the effectiveness of
their wise counsel, the soundness of their judgment,
they have ever caused their government to become an
example to be followed by all the governments of the
world.  They have made their capital city a focal center
of great world undertakings, they have won distinction,
attaining a supreme degree of personal eminence, and
reaching the loftiest heights of repute and character.

5. those famed and accomplished  of learning, possessed of praiseworthy
qualities and vast
erudition,...  In the
mirror of their minds the forms of transcendent realities
are reflected, and the lamp of their inner vision
derives its light from the sun of universal knowledge.
They are busy by night and by day with meticulous
research into such sciences as are profitable to mankind,
and they devote themselves to the training of students
of capacity.  It is certain that to their discerning taste,
the proffered treasures of kings would not compare
with a single drop of the waters of knowledge, and
mountains of gold and silver could not outweigh the
successful solution of a difficult problem.  To them, the
delights that lie outside their work are only toys for
children, and the cumbersome load of unnecessary possessions
is only good for the ignorant and base.  Content,
like the birds, they give thanks for a handful of
seeds, and the song of their wisdom dazzles the minds
of the world's most wise.

6. sagacious leaders among the people
and influential personalities throughout the country,
who constitute the pillars of state.  Their rank and station
and success depend on their being the well-wishers
of the people and in their seeking out such means as
will improve the nation and will increase the wealth
and comfort of the citizens.
   
 What can be regarded as honor, abiding happiness, rank and station, whether in
the here or the hereafter?  
...a diligent attention to truth and righteousness... dedication and resolve
and devotion to the good pleasure of God
 (Secret of Divine Civilization, pages 20-24)

What is the Spiritual Station of a Hand of the Cause of God? Knight of
Baha'u'llah? Martyr?
Educator? Scientist? One who defends the Faith in their writings? A worker
for world peace?
A champion of race unity?

What is The Highest Station to which a woman or man can aspire within the
Baha'i Faith?
It is certainly NOT being on the UHJ, a position to which aspiration itself
would be anthema.



Burl 

>
>


From burlb@bmi.netSun Sep 10 23:30:47 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 95 19:32 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
To: Member1700@aol.com
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women, Saints, and Power

Tony told the story:
>.  When she answered no....

        Why did she answer no?  The answer is YES!  Being a member of the
Universal House of Justice is *not* the highest station in the Baha'i Faith
-- not even close. Not even in the stadium, let alone the ballpark!

The absolute "Highest Station" is not available to any of us -- the station
of Prophet of God.
But for the rest of us, Abdul Baha delineates the ones that are open to us:
"The *rank and station*, the pleasure and peace, of an individual
have never consisted in his personal wealth,
but rather in his excellent character, his high resolve,
the breadth of his learning, and his ability to solve difficult
problems."  Abdul-Baha

1. The highest station, the supreme sphere, the noblest,
most sublime position in creation, whether visible or
invisible, whether alpha or omega, is that of the Prophets
of God, notwithstanding the fact that for the most
part they have to outward seeming been possessed of
nothing but their own poverty. 

2.  In the same way, ineffable glory is set apart for the Holy Ones and those
who are nearest to the Threshold of God, although
such as these have never for a moment concerned themselves
with material gain. 

3.  Then comes the station of those just kings whose fame as protectors of
the people
and dispensers of Divine justice has filled the world,
whose name as powerful champions of the people's
rights has echoed through creation.  These give no
thought to amassing enormous fortunes for themselves;
they believe, rather, that their own wealth lies in enriching
their subjects.  To them, if every individual citizen
has affluence and ease, the royal coffers are full.
They take no pride in gold and silver, but rather in
their enlightenment and their determination to achieve
the universal good.

4.  Next in rank are those eminent and honorable ministers
of state and representatives, who place the will of
God above their own, and whose administrative skill
and wisdom in the conduct of their office raises the science
of government to new heights of perfection.  They
shine in the learned world like lamps of knowledge;
their thinking, their attitudes and their acts demonstrate
their patriotism and their concern for the country's advancement.
Content with a modest stipend, they consecrate
their days and nights to the execution of important
duties and the devising of methods to insure the
progress of the people.  Through the effectiveness of
their wise counsel, the soundness of their judgment,
they have ever caused their government to become an
example to be followed by all the governments of the
world.  They have made their capital city a focal center
of great world undertakings, they have won distinction,
attaining a supreme degree of personal eminence, and
reaching the loftiest heights of repute and character.

5. those famed and accomplished  of learning, possessed of praiseworthy
qualities and vast
erudition,...  In the
mirror of their minds the forms of transcendent realities
are reflected, and the lamp of their inner vision
derives its light from the sun of universal knowledge.
They are busy by night and by day with meticulous
research into such sciences as are profitable to mankind,
and they devote themselves to the training of students
of capacity.  It is certain that to their discerning taste,
the proffered treasures of kings would not compare
with a single drop of the waters of knowledge, and
mountains of gold and silver could not outweigh the
successful solution of a difficult problem.  To them, the
delights that lie outside their work are only toys for
children, and the cumbersome load of unnecessary possessions
is only good for the ignorant and base.  Content,
like the birds, they give thanks for a handful of
seeds, and the song of their wisdom dazzles the minds
of the world's most wise.

6. sagacious leaders among the people
and influential personalities throughout the country,
who constitute the pillars of state.  Their rank and station
and success depend on their being the well-wishers
of the people and in their seeking out such means as
will improve the nation and will increase the wealth
and comfort of the citizens.
   
 What can be regarded as honor, abiding happiness, rank and station, whether in
the here or the hereafter?  
...a diligent attention to truth and righteousness... dedication and resolve
and devotion to the good pleasure of God
 (Secret of Divine Civilization, pages 20-24)

What is the Spiritual Station of a Hand of the Cause of God? Knight of
Baha'u'llah? Martyr?
Educator? Scientist? One who defends the Faith in their writings? A worker
for world peace?
A champion of race unity?

What is The Highest Station to which a woman or man can aspire within the
Baha'i Faith?
It is certainly NOT being on the UHJ, a position to which aspiration itself
would be anthema.



Burl 

>
>


From sw@solsys.ak.planet.gen.nzSun Sep 10 23:31:18 1995
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 95 15:08 NZST
From: S&W Michael 
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: women on UHJ

Dear Marguerite

Your message re the UHJ is somewhat unfair.  I am quite convinced that
there is no one in this discussion that has 'disobeyed, rebelled, opposed
or contended with the House, disputed with or disbelieved in the House, etc
etc...

WE HAVE BEEN ASKING QUESTIONS ... (ie. investigating, etc. etc. - quite
permissible, and indeed encouraged, within our Faith)

Indeed, as I have said several times (and others have too) because the
House of Justice is the House of Justice, then we all (I think all) accept
that the House is completely and utterly right in the decision that it has
made regarding the status of women on the House.  And further that as long
as the House continues to legislate against women being on the House, that
it will be right!!

I think it's very important to be aware of subtle, and not so subtle,
distinctions like these in our discussions.

To fill in the 'gap' you've left, I think we're acting like mature,
inquiring, scholarly, Baha'is.

Kind regards
Suzanne Michael


From jrcole@umich.eduSun Sep 10 23:33:41 1995
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 23:30:02 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
To: Burl Barer 
Cc: Member1700@aol.com, talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women, Saints, and Power



Burl:  You seem to me to have missed the point o Tony's story.  *All* the 
world religions told those women that women could attain the highest 
spiritual stations in the religion.  But there cannot be a female Pope, 
mufti, Dalai Lama, etc.  Ultimate power and decision-making authority 
rests in male hands in the world religions, which is the definition of 
patriarchy.  The Baha'i Faith is in this regard no different from the 
others, unfortunately, even though the attitudes toward women in its 
scriptures are more "feminist" in general than is the case with most 
other religions.

The women were saying that all religions are patriarchies in the final 
analysis, and they were not interested in joining a patriarchy.  I don't 
blame them.  (Feminist theory typically extends the anthropological 
notion of patriarchy, which has to do with descent being counted in the 
male line, property being inherited mainly by males, the eldest male in 
the household being the decision-maker, etc., to *any* system in which 
final power and authority can rest only in male hands).  Now, Baha'is could 
argue that at the level of local and 
national communities, the Baha'i Faith is not in principle a patriarchy.  I 
think that is potentially true.  But so is it true that many Catholic 
communities, given the shortage of priests, are increasingly actually 
being run by women.  The Catholic Church is nevertheless a patriarchy, as 
is Islam, where gender segregation often ironically creates a fairly 
independent sphere of action for women in the form of women-only meetings 
and organizations.

The German sociologist Max Weber defined authority as the likelihood that 
a given command would be obeyed.  In the Baha'i Faith ultimate authority 
clearly rests with the Universal House of Justice, both ideally and in 
the real world.  And women do not partake of that authority.

I can understand Baha'is arguing that we are stuck with a 
"Patriarchy-in-the-Last-Analysis" on textual grounds and must simply 
therefore accept that these are the rules of the game if one wants to be 
a Baha'i.  I don't agree with this stance, but I can respect it.  I cannot 
understand, however, why anyone would deny that we *have* a 
patriarchy-in-the-last-analysis.  That just seems to me an instance of 
wishing away uncomfortable realities.  


cheers,   Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan



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