Friday, January 28, 2011

Two UHJ's?

What defines our Baha'i-dom?

jet, Jan 28, 2011:

Here are three interesting quotes from the Master about the Covenant. They say that beginnings and ends are the most important, that you leave the best for last, and the Master certainly did that in America. In November, when He was preparing to leave for England, He spoke again and again about the Covenant. He held banquets in New York and Washington to celebrate what we now call the Day of the Covenant. Certainly, He put what He considered His most distinctive message at the end of that journey. The same is true of these citations. My first quote is in the Master's farewell address to the believers in California.


"The friends in Los Angeles and San Francisco are very firm in the Covenant. If they sense the least violation on the part of anyone, they shun him entirely; for they know that such a person is engaged in extinguishing the lamps of faith ignited by the light of the Covenant, thereby producing weakness and indifference in the divine Cause.
For instance, the firm ones teach a person. Then the violators go to him and instill suspicion until he becomes lukewarm. There have been violators here in Chicago for twenty years. What have they done? Nothing. Have they been able to teach anybody? Have they been able to speak in churches or address audiences elsewhere? Have they been able to make anybody firm in the Cause?
They are doing nothing except extinguishing the lamps we ignite. The friends in San Francisco are exceedingly firm. They do not receive violators in their homes. Recently a violator went to that city. The Baha'i friends turned him away, saying, "You are not with us; why do you try to come among us?" Today the most important principle of faith is firmness in the Covenant, because firmness in the Covenant wards off differences. Therefore, you must be firm as mountains." (Promulgation, 381)

The second quote comes at the end of a talk He gave in Chicago a few weeks before, on 16 September, 1912, at the home of Corinne True. Again, He was about to leave town.

"Therefore, you must read the Tablets of Baha'u'llah. You must read the Tablet of the Branch and regard that which He has so clearly stated. Beware! Beware! lest anyone should speak from the authority of his own thoughts or create a new thing out of himself. Beware! Beware! According to the explicit Covenant of Baha'u'llah you should care nothing at all for such a person. Baha'u'llah shuns such souls. I have expounded these things for you, for the conservation and protection of the teachings of Baha'u'llah, in order that you may be informed, lest any souls shall deceive you and lest any souls shall cause suspicion among you. You must love all people, and yet if any souls put you in doubt, you must know that Baha'u'llah is severed from them. Whosoever works for unity and fellowship is a servant of Baha'u'llah, and Baha'u'llah is his assistant and helper. I ask God that He may cause you to be the very means of agreement and unity, that He may make you radiant, merciful, heavenly children of the divine Kingdom; that you may advance day by day; that you may become as bright as these lamps, bestowing light upon all humanity. Salutations and farewell!" (Promulgation, 323-324)

My third quote I blogged several years ago on my Badi' blog. It was called:
Two Universal Houses of Justice?, or, The Covenant defines Baha'i-dom


At one point, Mahmud's Diary recounts, the Master even discusses the possibility of there being one day two Universal Houses of Justice. Sure, several centuries ago there were as many as three Popes at the same time, so why not two Universal Houses of Justice? Such an eventuality is, to say the least, utterly inconceivable for Baha'is. Here is Mahmud-i-Zarqani's summary of what the Master said,

"...He spoke about differences that arise within religions after the ascension of their Founders, the Manifestations, to the heavenly abode. But the Blessed Beauty has shut the door on such differences so that whatever the House of Justice commands, all must obey and submit to it. He said that if the Baha'is should become divided into two branches, each establishing a House of Justice of its own in opposition to the other, both would be false. Baha'u'llah wrote His Covenant with His own Pen..." (Mahmud, 127-8)

So ... the very second that there was disagreement on that issue, both sides would cease to be Baha'is, for a Baha'i is defined as someone who agrees with the Covenant.

(from “Tell the socialists; The Covenant Clause in our Heritage," blogged Nov 05, 2004)

Jim offered the following comment on this post:
Hi John,
Yes, the Baha'i principle of non-association with Covenant-breakers is probably the most serious one of our Faith.  Also in Mahmud's Diary -
Mahmud records how Mr. Howard MacNutt foolishly associated with a declared Covenant-breaker and then showed up at a couple of Baha'i meeting where Abdu'l-Baha was speaking:
"Today He (Abdu'l-Baha) called on Mr MacNutt and spoke to him in strong terms about his relationship with the Covenant-breakers and showed him a letter Mr MacNutt had written to Chicago offering help to and praising Dr Nutt, a friend of Kheiralla. The Master asked, `Is this your writing?' Mr MacNutt replied, `Yes, but my intention was something else.' He tried to give a different angle to his purpose but could not. The Master was saddened about Mr MacNutt but His purpose was to admonish and warn him against his own conduct."
(Mahmud's Diary, page 393)
"As Mr MacNutt's apparent equivocation and lack of firmness seemed to be causing his degradation in the eyes of the friends, he came to the Master and implored Him to recommend him to them. The Master replied, `The remedy depends upon your sincere repentance and your open denouncement of the violators in the meetings of the friends.' In compliance, Mr MacNutt rose and gave an account of his journey to Chicago and his meeting with Kheiralla. Some felt that he spoke ambiguously. 

The Master asked him to explain his actions in plain words so that the friends might be satisfied and this blemish on his character be removed. Again he testified in clear terms of his faith in the Covenant and his rejection of the Covenant-breakers. The Master went to the podium and expressed His pleasure at Mr Harris's talk and for Mr MacNutt's words of repentance. The Master then went upstairs and called Mr Hoar, Mr Harris, Mr Dodge and other friends to Him and asked them to embrace Mr MacNutt and exhorted them to have the utmost love and unity among themselves. He encouraged and inspired them to spread the divine word and to diffuse the fragrances of God. He told them that they must sacrifice all other affairs for the accomplishment of this great affair.
Despite this, the Master and the friends, in their inmost hearts, were saddened by Mr MacNutt's earlier actions. Some felt that he was not trying hard enough to show his humility and firmness in the Covenant. After the Master's departure from America, Mr MacNutt went to California and other regions of America. The believers stayed away from him. He wrote many letters of repentance to `Abdu'l-Bahá, who sent him many encouraging and kind words.

Wednesday, November 20, 1912 [New York]
The Master again called some of the friends and asked them to show kindness and love to Mr MacNutt and to be patient with him. Some of His words were these:
"You must all arise in unison to serve the Cause of God. You must work hand in hand to teach the Cause and know that the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh will descend upon you. My hope is that New York will excel all other cities because at the beginning it had precedence over them. God willing, it shall be so again. The favors of the Kingdom of God are great, the attention and bounties of the Blessed Beauty are fixed upon you and His hidden hosts are assisting you. Arise in this arena and you shall see what will transpire. 
I am but one of His servants. After the ascension of the Blessed Beauty, the Ottoman people and government arose against me as did enemies of the area from different nations and religions. In such a state everyone was attacking me from outside and even my brothers from inside opposed me. But in a short time the enemies were frustrated and brought low so that some of them cried, `Would to God that Bahá'u'lláh had not ascended because this Cause has become even greater, its fame has spread to more places, and its support has become stronger.' Therefore, we must arise in servitude so that His confirmations may surround us from all sides. Undoubtedly whenever you arise to serve and proclaim the Cause you shall be assisted and shall attain success. Rest assured." "
(Mahmud's Diary, page 400-402)
Although Abdu'l-Baha publicly asked the friends "to show kindness and love to Mr. MacNutt and to be patient with him", Mr. MacNutt wasn't able to re-establish the friends trust in him apparently.  
Hi Jim,

Yes, Howard MacNutt did have a tough time for a while there. Mahmud was not around for it, but in the end the Master did affect a reconciliation, and had MacNutt handle the job of compiling, translating and editing Promulgation; he even had him write the intro "so that thy name will be remembered forever." MacNutt is an example of a believer who had to be fired in the oven before he became firm.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I am thinking of the Dr. Taherzadeh's paraphrasing of Abdu'l Baha's explanation that it is similar to the case of a person who is infected. A 100 healthy people associating with an infected and infectious person will not change the infected person's condition, but the one infectious person can infect 100 people and bring down their condition of health to sickness. This is very strange and mysterious power which the Covenant Breaker has. I strongly suspect this is a great factor explaining why several high-ego centered scholars who have been attracted to the Faith, have ultimately rebelled and left it. They want the right to judge for themselves.
I also think it may be a sad comment on the actual frailty of the Western or modern Bahai community's beliefs. Despite the repeated waves and waves of encouragement and repetition of the single idea of "submission to God's will " which we say over and over every day in the Obligatory Prayer, our faith is still not built on the rock. We may still be digging down, however slowly, looking for that rock foundation of our inner soul. This modern state I am comparing to the state which Dr. Taherzadeh mentioned as the state of his his father, and those around Abdu'l Baha and of course Baha'u'llah. He said these people became magnets, they were no longer ordinary metals. Their certitude had become mountainous. They were in much much much less danger of losing their faith when coming in contact with a Covenant Breaker.
Regards from Japan,