Fahrenheit 445

Well, Baha’i Rants’ prediction that the boycott of Kalimat would not be restricted to the US, where it began, is slowly becoming true:

In fact, I would not at all be surprised to see other NSAs soon following the lead of the US in this decision. In that case, it would confirm my suspicions that it did originate from the House of Justice (and/or the ITC).

Just recently the UK NSA boycotted Kalimat. Not only does this mean that Kalimat is in further danger of closing, but more and more it also seems that this is not an isolated action taken by the NSA of the US. Rather, it was probably a decision taken at the highest level (ITC/UHJ) and delegated down to them:

Below you will find the latest letter from the UK NSA to all local assemblies in their jurisdiction. To make it interesting, the UK letter (in blue) invoking a boycott of Kalimat is contrasted in color with the US NSA letter (in red) :

23 July 2006

December 29, 2005

Dearly loved Friends

Dear Bah??’? Friends,

The National Spiritual Assembly has taken the decision that Baha’i Books UK and its agents will cease to distribute books and other items marketed by Kalimat Press with immediate effect.

Enclosed for your information is a copy of our letter of today’s date addressed to Kalim??t Press. We ask you to comply with the decision we have made that all national and local Bah??’? agencies cease to distribute books and other items marketed by this publisher. However, you may continue to sell whatever you may have in stock until your inventories are depleted. Individuals are free, of course, to decide to purchase books from any publisher.

Baha’i Books UK and its agents may continue, however, to sell whatever Kalimat titles remain in stock until their inventories are depleted. Further, individuals are free to decide to purchase books from other suppliers.

Our decision was regretfully reached as a result of increasing concern in recent years that a number of titles handled by Kalim??t Press, aside from those which have enriched Bah??’? literature over the years, contain matter inimical to the best interests of our Faith. It is highly inappropriate for Bah??’? institutions, which are obligated to safeguard such interests, to provide channels of distribution for publishers promoting such titles.

The National Assembly’s decision was reached as a result of increasing concern in recent years that a number of titles published by Kalimat Press, aside from those which have enriched Baha’i literature over the years, contain matter inimical to the best interests of the Faith. The National Assembly believes that it would therefore be inappropriate for it, as the institution obligated to safeguard such interests in the United Kingdom, to provide channels of distribution for such material.

With loving Baha’i greetings,

With loving Bah??’? greetings,

National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United Kingdom

NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAH??’??S OF THE UNITED STATES

As you’ve noticed, the two letters are almost identical. Were they simply polished and lightly edited based off a ?master’ letter out of the ITC?

You make the call.

Related Links:

Karen’s commentary on her blog

Alison’s commentary and podcast on her blog

Boycott of Kalimat

Fahrenheit 245

Website of Kalimat Press

NSA letter to LSAs (pdf file)

NSA letter to Kalimat Press (pdf file)

It’s a little known fact. . . [4]

Do not adjust your monitor… This is another installment of “Its a little known fact…”

I feel it my duty to tell you that you will be shocked and awed by what you read below. So for your own safety the factoid will not appear at the top, as it usually does. Instead, we’ll take a more gentle approach…

In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha’u’llah writes:

God hath prescribed matrimony unto you. Beware that ye take not unto yourselves more wives than two. Whoso contenteth himself with a single partner from among the maidservants of God, both he and she shall live in tranquillity.

This has always been a bit of a sticky wicket for Baha’is because Baha’u’llah says ‘more wives than two’ – not, more wives than one. To be fair the next sentence does nudge towards monogamy but keeping true to the letter of the law, it does allow polygamy.

But as you probably have noticed, no Baha’i around has more than one wife. So what gives? Shoghi Effendi was asked about the apparent allowance for bigamy and his secretary wrote on his behalf in answer:

He [Bah??’u’ll??h] made plurality of wives conditional upon justice; `Abdu’l-Bah?? interpreted this to mean that a man may not have more than one wife at a time, as it is impossible to be just to two or more women in marriage.
[11 February, 1944 to an individual believer]

The common sense argument is made that Baha’u’llah used words very carefully to allow for a gradual shift to monogomy. At the time of the revelation of the Most Holy Book, Baha’u’llah Himself had three wives and many Baha’is of the time also had more than one wife. This is understandable since most of the Baha’is then were still transitioning from an Islamic religious background and had mainly entered into bigamy while still technically Muslims. As well, a Baha’i culture had yet to develop. Therefore, it was Baha’u’llah’s wisdom that they were not suddenly forced to drastically change their lives to abide within the new laws. You can imagine the jarring and unjust result this would have had on family life.

Yet, that is not all there is to it. As you read above, Shoghi Effendi says that Abdu’l-Baha explains: since the precondition of justice must be fulfilled, and since it clearly can not be fulfilled by mere mortal men, this means that the precondition can never be met; which therefore, means that polygamy is abolished completely.

Still with me? Alright. Here’s the thing.

First, we must acknowledge that nowhere in the Aqdas is polygamy preconditioned upon justice (or the equal treatment of both wives). This is an addition by Abdu’l-Baha. Perhaps Baha’u’llah told Abdu’l-Baha orally about this but to my knowledge there is no written document authored by Baha’u’llah laying out this precondition.

But in the Tablet in which Abdu’l-Baha is quoted, He is not referring to the Aqdas. Ofcourse, this is difficult to notice as the quote is taken out of context and inserted in the notes. In fact, the probability is that Abdu’l-Baha is referring to the Quranic law when he says “law of God” since in the Quran there is a verse as follows:

And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course.

Second, according to the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha (written to and for Baha’is about Baha’i laws), He did not say that the precondition of justice can not be met. In fact, He says the opposite:

“Concerning bigamy, this has been promulgated, and no one must abrogate it. ‘Abdu’l-Baha has not abrogated this law. These are false accusations and lies (spread by) the friends. What I have said is that He has made bigamy bound on a precondition. As long as someone does not attain certitude regarding the capability to practice justice and his heart is not at rest that he can practice justice, he should not be intent upon a second marriage. But if he should be sure and attain certitude that he would practice justice on all levels (and conditions), then a second marriage is lawful. Just as has been the case in the Holy Land: the Baha’i friends wished to marry a second wife, accepting this precondition, and this servant [Abdu’l-Baha] never abstained (from giving permission), but insisted that justice should be considered, and justice actually means here self-restraint; but they said, that they will practice justice and wished to marry a second wife. Such false accusations [charges that Abdu’l-Baha prohibited bigamy] are the slanderous whisperings of those who wish to spread doubts and to what degree they already succeed in making matters ambiguous! (Our) purpose was to state that bigamy without justice is not lawful and that justice is very difficult (to achieve).”
[Amr wa Khalq, Volume 4, p. 174]

“You asked about polygamy. According to the text of the Divine Book the right of having two wives is lawful and legal. This was never prohibited, but it is legitimate and allowed. You should therefore not be unhappy, but take justice into your consideration so that you may be as just as possible. what has been said was that since justice is very difficult (to achieve), therefore tranquillity (calls for) one wife. But in your case, you should not be unhappy.”

[ibid. Volume 4, p. 174]

It is obvious from reading the above that Abdu’l-Baha gives a much more naunced take on this whole matter. Which isn’t surprising if you knew His general approach to things. Notice that in this situation Abdu’l-Baha is talking about justice not as a one time thing – boom! there is justice – or a black and white delineation…but rather, He is referring to justice as a continuum: “…so that you may be as just as possible.”

By the way, the source is probably not familiar to Western Baha’is so it bears some elucidation. It is a provisional translation of Amr wa Khalq which loosely translates to Faith and Knowledge. It is similar – but not equal – to a book most Western Baha’is are familiar with: Lights of Guidance. It is a four volume compilation of writings about Baha’i laws which almost all Persian Baha’is have as part of their Baha’i library.

In any case, according to Abdu’l-Baha, there is a condition and contrary to the prevalent myth: it can be met. In fact, He himself gave permission and blessing for polygamous marriages to take place by Baha’is.

So there you go: under Baha’i law, polygamy is permitted. Bet you didn’t know what. Well, that’s why its called a little known fact.

(And ladies, remember that eventhough there has been a lot of talk about a plurality of wives, the Kitab-i-Aqdas is applied mutatis mutandis so technically you have the right to be exasperated by two people leaving the toilet seat up)

But what does this all mean? To be honest, the allowance for polygamy has no implication in our modern lives. After all, we as Baha’is must abide by the laws of our country and as you’ve probably clued in, most of the civilized world has taken a shine to monogamy.

And yet, there is a real benefit to thinking and talking about this law. Not for its practical implementation in our lives (yeah, you wish) but for the insight into relativism. If you haven’t yet read Brendan’s essay on Moral Relativism, please do so. It explains the concept much better than I could ever hope to. For the flexibilty inherent within this law not only allowed the early believers to live harmonious lives, it also allows future generations the same flexibility.

Breaking News: Rocket Hits Baha’i Gardens

katyusha

There are reports that the Baha’i gardens on Mount Carmel have been hit. Thankfully there were no casualties.

Nothing official has come from either the Universal House of Justice (internal) nor the Baha’i News Service (external). The latest public news release is about a Baha’i school in Tonga.

In any case, every Baha’i living and serving in Haifa is assumed to be in bunkers waiting this out. Our prayers and thoughts go to them and everyone else in harms way. May God’s hand protect them.

Daily Express article excerpt:

Hezbollah targets included Acre, the ancient Crusader city of Richard the Lion Heart and home to Arabs and Jews alike. One rocket landed in the holy gardens of the Bahai Temple.There were no casualties.

San Francisco Chronicle article excerpt:

In fact, the seemingly indiscriminate Hezbollah rocket attacks have targeted both Jewish and Arab towns throughout northern Israel, including Acre, the ancient Crusader city of Richard the Lionheart and home to Arabs and Jews alike. One rocket hit the holy gardens of the Bahai Temple. There were no casualties.

Corruption and Espionage at the Indian NSA

Steve has linked to a story concerning the NSA of India by Hindustan Times recently.

In a complaint filed in a city court, a few trustees of the National Spiritual Assembly of Bahais of India have been accused of espionage by their colleagues. Apparently, they were supplying classified documents from India’s defence establishments to Israeli and Iranian spying agencies and making huge amounts in foreign currency.

My interpretation of this situation is that it is an internal power struggle and these accusations are merely a volley from one camp against another. The UHJ must be extremely embarrassed at this public airing of dirty laundry.

There have been similar incidents in the past but they have always been resolved privately. The UHJ has been struggling with the NSA of India for quite some time. It is no secret that it is among, if not the most, corrupt and troubled NSA. The watchword of the UHJ has been patience and more patience. But they can not continue to be forebearing anymore. This is simply out of control.

Although this is totally an internal matter, and Baha’i Rants believes the charges to be totally false, the tragic consequence is that it will have far reaching effect outside of the Indian NSA’s little turf war and do much damage to the Baha’i Faith. And specifically, put the Iranian Baha’is in even a more precarious situation.

UPDATE: NSA of India officially denies allegations as baseless.

Related:

Chile Temple Finally Underway

The Baha’i House of Worship in Chile is finally underway. According to a recent interview with the CBC, the firm of Soheil Mosun has started to manufacture the necessary components to graft together the massive transluscent walls of the building.

No word yet how things are going on the ground in Chile but we can assume that things are going well since the special firm of Soheil Mosun would never be commissioned to start otherwise.

You can read the CBC article here.

Soheil Mosun.png