House of Baha’u’llah in Baghdad Destroyed – BREAKING

Communique from the Universal House of Justice – June 27, 2013:

With shattered hearts, we have received news of the destruction of the Most Great House — the House of Baha’u’llah in Baghdad. While the precise circumstances attending this outrageous violation are as yet unclear, its immediate consequence is without doubt, and must be emphatically stated: The peoples of the world have been robbed of a sanctuary of incalculable sacredness.

So deplorable an act, coming on the eve of the unprecedented worldwide convocation of Baha’u’llah’s young followers and their friends, calls to mind that mysterious interplay of crisis and victory through which His indestructible, irrepressible, inexorable purpose will finally be consummated.

We supplicate the Blessed Beauty to confer upon His faithful followers throughout the world fortitude and resolve in the face of this grievous blow. More information will be provided as it becomes available.


Analysis and Thoughts
The house of Baha’u’llah in Baghdad has a storied past. It is or, rather, was located in the North East section of present day Baghdad. Before the capital grew to reach and envelop it, al-Kadhimiya or Kazmain was a town 5 kilometers outside of Baghdad. It was and remains a pilgrimage site for Shi’ite Muslims due to the location of al-Kadhimiya mosque and shrine complex where the earthly remains of the Seventh and Ninth Imams rest. In fact the small town grew around the mosque and shrine which was named after the Seventh Imam (Musa al-Kadhim). Click for a Google Map view

Due to its proximity to the shrines the House of Baha’u’llah had been used as a hostel for Shi’ite pilgrims coming from Iraq and the surrounding countries. As you can imagine, due to its location to the Shi’ite shrine, the idea of returning the property to the Baha’i authorities is out of the question. Even if the government of Iraq was so inclined (which they obviously were and are not) the political and religious milieu would never allow it. The proximity of Sadr city doesn’t help either.

And yet, since the overthrow of Saddam Hussain and the re-establishment of the Baha’i community (with the election of the new NSA of the Baha’is of Iraq in 2004) the Baha’i World Centre had started the process of attempting to regain ownership of the property. They were able to broach the subject at various times and with different levels of the civil government as well as with the US and other nations undertaking reconstruction operations in Iraq. All avenues of dialogue failed to yield any results.

Although we do not have confirmation of this, it is my opinion that the destruction of the house was a deliberate act to accomplish two major objectives: first, to remove the question of ownership – as there is nothing left standing to own (except of course the land) – and second, to build in its place a larger and more modern pilgrim hostel which will accommodate more Muslims and further remove the possibility of returning the property to Baha’is.

While the destruction of the house is a major blow to the hopes of Baha’is everywhere, the Baha’i World Centre does have the necessary architectural plans and pictures to reconstruct the building. But they will be unable to do so if in its place stands a new, larger Shi’ite pilgrim hostel. Even if the land is now returned to the Baha’i international community, rebuilding the house of Baha’u’llah would entail the destruction of the newly built pilgrim house and that would be simply out of the question for obvious reasons.

Allow me to repeat that this is merely conjecture on my part. But it is based on an understanding of the various stakeholders and their motivations; including the current Iraqi government controlled by Shi’ites, the Iranian government (which is more or less running the show in Iraq today), the high value of real estate in Baghdad and specifically this neighborhood, etc. Needless to say, I hope that I am wrong.

But if the above does come to pass, it will have severe consequences for Baha’is everywhere. Not only because as Baha’is we abhor the destruction and desecration of yet another holy place but also because of the spiritual significance of this particular building.

While most Baha’is are comfortable with the idea of pilgrimage meaning a trip to Haifa, Israel and the surrounding areas (Bahji, Akka, Mazra’ih), this is simply wrong. None of those places are Baha’i sites of pilgrimage. If this ‘little known fact’ surprises you then you’re not alone. Most Baha’is today unfortunately don’t know any better.

This common ignorance is due to two reasons: first, both actual pilgrimage sites are inaccessible and second, the Universal House of Justice incorrectly uses the word pilgrimage (hajj) to refer to the act of visiting the significant Baha’i sites in the Holy Land instead of the correct word: visitation (ziarat).

Upon a superficial investigation you will find that the common answer to this concern is that Abdu’l-Baha designated the Shrine of Baha’u’llah at Bahji (the Point of Adoration) as a place of pilgrimage. The source of this is note 54 of the Aqdas but I have been unable to find the actual supporting source. That is, in which tablet does Abdu’l-Baha write this? What is the exact quote? It is curious that a proper source is not provided anywhere and even more curious that for the average Baha’i this is enough.

Now that the House of Baha’u’llah has been destroyed, and may be replaced by a new Shi’ite pilgrim hostel, removing it permanently from the grasp of Baha’is, what are Baha’is to do? I suppose we can continue to do what we are doing now; pretend that the trip to Israel is actually pilgrimage.

But that is a rather hollow pretense. Baha’i pilgrimage is obligatory and has been enjoined upon all (except those who are unable of course) and so understandably, Baha’is wish to go. But they can’t really.

This presents an interesting thought experiment. What is special about a holy place? is it the brick and mortar and shingles? if it is those things, then through the eventual passage of time the structure will need to be renovated or replaced. And it is reasonable to expect that over enough time it will be renovated and restored to such an extent that it is completely replaced with new material.

Is what makes the holy site ‘special’ the location? That is, we can rebuild the building with new material, as Baha’is hope and plan to for both site of pilgrimage, and it would still be ‘special’? what if we are somehow able to use a very large earth move or other construction machinery to uproot the building whole from the ground it sits upon and re-locate it? is the earth under it now ‘special’? is the building in another location just as special?

These questions may seem facetious to you but I submit that they are not. What are your thoughts? Please share them in the comments below.

Update:
The Universal House of Justice has shared this letter with the Baha’is of the world as an update to the tragic events described above:

  • Nima

    It’s a deplorable act and what goes around comes around.

    The above was well written and I agree with you on the definition of pilgrimage, and you ask some interesting questions at the end.

    What makes a site special in my opinion is a combination of all the things you have mentioned however if I had to choose one then it would be the location itself knowing that perhaps the building is no longer there however it was that spot where it used to be.

  • Baquia

    Interesting. What if a massive earthquake were to shift the house and the land it was above, say, 5 meters North of its original location? would the ‘old’ location have any significance?

  • carrollstraus

    God will deal with the men and the motives. As t which aspect is holy I would defer to the Universal House of Justice to answer the question.The House is not “wrong”–they are divinely guided. YOU are ‘wrong” to say such a thing Please reword your statements.

  • Anton Bronnikov

    Baquia,
    I like the way you are going with it 🙂

    Let me make it even more complicated. I heard a story about Abdu’l-Bah?? when He was in Main
    near Green Acre. Once while walking He suddenly stopped and told to his
    companions that at that very sport a Mashriqu’l-Adhk??r would be built in the future.
    Then He continued that the temple is already build and existed in spiritual world.
    So, maybe the same is with the Houses of the Bab and Bah??’u’ll??h? They could
    destroy the material structure but in spiritual realm holy places still exist.

  • Baquia

    Carrol, can you please clarify, who is wrong about what?

  • Dan Jensen

    Baquia, I think Carroll doesn’t like your phrase “the Universal House of Justice incorrectly uses the word pilgrimage (hajj)” because it suggests that the Universal House of Justice is incorrect about something.

  • Dan Jensen

    Well done, Baquia. Thanks for the perspective.

  • Baquia

    Dan, thank you. It wasn’t clear to me what she was objecting to.

    According to Baha’i administration:

    “Though the Guardian of the Faith has been made the permanent head of so august a body he can never, even temporarily, assume the right of exclusive legislation. He cannot override the decision of the majority of his fellow-members, but is bound to insist upon a reconsideration by them of any enactment he conscientiously believes to conflict with the meaning and to depart from the spirit of Bah??’u’ll??h’s revealed utterances.”

    The above suggests that not only can the UHJ be wrong, they can be so wrong as to “depart from the spirit of Baha’u’llah’s” revelation.

    For those interested in further exploration of this, see: Is the Universal House of Justice Infallible?

  • Starr* Ayn Saffa

    In the Tablets of Abdu’l-baha, p 337. he states the point of adoration will change in the future. I suggest this is the future unfolding and that ‘may’ be why Baha’ullah did not protect this place of ‘visitation/pilgrimage’:

    Question: “Wither shall we turn in our prayers?” There is an appointed center toward which one must direct himself in prayer, but at present this center is not unfolded because of Wisdom. In its time it shall be announced. At present in those regions you should direct yourself, as formerly to the East. The appointed and certain center will be announced in its time.

    You also asked: “To Whom should we turn?” Turn to the Ancient Beauty. If it be the will of God, the blessed likeness (of the Manifestation) will be sent in its proper time, so that, in the material world of the heart, thou mayest direct thyself to that holy likeness and thus be saved from imagination and phantasy. However, in the Temple (Mashrak-el-Azcar) the blessed picture must never be placed (or hung) on the wall. This you should know. – Tablet of Abdu’l-baha Page 337

  • Alison Marshall

    Baha’u’llah has answered your question. What makes a holy site holy is its relationship to God. When that relationship is severed – ie, with a new revelation – the site is no longer holy.

    “Salman, the honor, exaltation, greatness, and renown of all names depend
    on their relationship to God. For instance, consider the religious
    edifices that have become exalted among the various peoples. They are
    all circumambulating around these buildings to which they make
    pilgrimage from distant lands. It is clear that the preexistent Beauty –
    may his splendor be glorified – has related himself to them, even
    though everyone knows that God has never and will never stand in need of
    a building, and his holy essence is related to all places equally.
    Rather, he has declared these houses of God and other such edifices to
    be the cause of the triumph and success of his servants, so that none of
    the people would be deprived of the wonders of his grace. Blessed are
    those who follow the command of God, implement his decree, and are among
    those who attain the goal. These buildings and those who circle round
    them are honored in the sight of God as long as this relationship is not
    severed. But after its link to God is abrogated, if anyone were to
    circumambulate such a structure, he would merely be circling his base
    self, and is considered by God as among the people of hell-fire.”

    Baha’u’llah: Commentary on a Verse of Rumi, para 8

    http://whoisbahaullah.com/explore/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=41&Itemid=48

  • Nima

    haha interesting. By spot I refer to the exact positioning based on geographic coordinates irrelevant of the soil. The original location is where it’s at. If it were to flood and become unrecognizable I would still pay homage but by then “rowe” comments below come into play.

    @rowe It’s good to question. Questioning should not ever be deemed disrespectful if the context of it is to enhance thought, open discussions, and increase understanding.

  • Baquia

    Thank you Alison. I would intuitively agree with Baha’u’llah’s explanation of holy places. My questions were more towards ‘what ifs’. As in, what if the place is destroyed? is the city dump (where the carted bricks and pieces of the building are taken) now holy? or is the ’empty’ space holy? or both? or none?

  • Baquia

    Anton, yes I see what you mean. This chimes with what Alison wrote (quote from Baha’u’llah) about the spiritual significance of material matter. As Bruce Lee may have said, “It is a finger pointing to the moon. Do not concentrate on the finger! or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”

  • Baquia

    A reader emailed me pointing out that a similar idea had been shared in Scott Adams book, “God Debris”:

    “What makes a holy land holy?? he asked.

    ?Well, usually it’s because some important religious event took place there.?

    ?What does it mean to say that something took place in a particular location when we know that the earth is constantly in motion, rotating on its axis and orbiting the sun? And we’re in a moving galaxy that is part of an expanding universe. Even if you had a spaceship and could fly anywhere, you can never return to the location of a past event. There would be no equivalent of the past location because location depends on your distance from other objects, and all objects
    in the universe would have moved considerably by then.”

    ?I see your point, but on Earth the holy places keep their relationship to other things on Earth, and those things don’t move much,? I said.

    ?Let’s say you dug up all the dirt and rocks and vegetation of a holy place and moved it someplace else, leaving nothing but a hole that is one mile deep in the original location. Would the holy land now be the new location where
    you put the dirt and rocks and vegetation, or the old location with the hole??

    ?I think both would be considered holy,? I said, hedging my bets.

    ?Suppose you took only the very top layer of soil and vegetation from the holy place, the newer stuff that blew in
    or grew after the religious event occurred thousands of years ago. Would the place you dumped the topsoil and vegetation be holy??

    ?That’s a little trickier,? I said. ?I’ll say the new location isn’t holy because the topsoil that you moved there isn’t itself holy, it was only in contact with holy land. If holy land could turn anything that touched it into more holy land, then the whole planet would be holy.?

    The old man smiled. ?The concept of location is a useful delusion when applied to real estate ownership, or when
    giving someone directions to the store. But when it is viewed through the eyes of an omnipotent God, the concept of location is absurd.

    ?While we speak, nations are arming themselves to fight holy lands for control of lands they consider holy. They are trapped in the delusion that locations are real things, not just fictions of the mind. Many will die.?

  • desirivans

    Good day,

    Interesting.

    I believe that render a material location/place holy is the event that have
    taken place there.

    If God have manifested Himself in something or someone and some have faith in
    it then the place is consider holy to such group. But who can prove it
    objectively.

    Do you realize that we live permanently in the past.

    There is no present.

    Every sound, light you feel or hear came from microns second before.

    Even the image of yourself in the mirror is your image from the past. The time
    the light reach the mirror and reflect from it and reach your eyes and to your
    brain , to your sympathetic nerves and analyzing it , some microns seconds have
    already elapsed.

    So if some events have taken place in the past, in distant past we can consider
    it as in the ”present”. We only have to give it life in our being.

    For me there is no specific place that is holy.

    Why you don’t say that every human being is holy.

    Because GOD dwell in every one’s being. It’s a reality which can feel and touch
    with the spiritual sense.

    Know and discover your reality and you will discover God in yourself and in
    every human, in very things around you.

    If Bahaullah’s House have been destroyed it’s no alarmist.

    Don’t put your faith in rust and dust but rather experience Bahaullah in your
    being and your whole will become holy.

    The building represent the past for the incumbencies but only faith is the
    present.

    Regards.

  • Maureen Sullivan

    Though I’m not an astrologer it seems to me that the location is fixed in relation to the heavens (stars) no matter what buildings or structures are standing…or not. The site of the former World Trade Center in NYC comes to mind as sacred ground that will continue to be so until the end of time. I hope that the shattered hearts of Baha’is everywhere will find healing.
    In my experience all ‘pilgrimages’ begin and end in the heart.

  • Baquia

    Maureen, we are hurtling through space at an astonishing speed and the other heavenly bodies are constantly in motion as a cosmic ballet. So any point relative to another point is constantly changing. But I do agree and appreciate the last sentiment you shared, that all pilgrimages begin and end in the heart.

  • josh

    Just as there is salat (obligatory “prayer”) and do’a (all other prayers); there is hajj (obligatory pilgrimage), and ziyarat (pilgrimage to the Shrines in Haifa-Akka and others). There is no mistake being made by the Universal House of Justice in its language whatsoever. This is a non-starter.

  • edpricefl

    The Universal House of Justice released today (07/18/2013) a new letter on the topic of the recent destruction of the Baghdad House of Baha’u’llah. It might be wise to revise/update this blog entry to report accurately the current situation.

    Regardless of the words to be used or not used for the term pilgrimage, the writer overlooks that the Universal House of Justice is empowered by Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha to legislate on matters not found in the Sacred Text. Hence, while the Aqdas designated pilgrimage sites are at present unavailable due to political conditions, it is perfectly lawful for the House to designate alternative pilgrimage locations for the Baha’is of the world. God willing, in the future, political conditions will eventually make the Aqdas designated pilgrimage sites available and then the House will adjust the guidelines accordingly.

    The writer asks what makes a pilgrimage site special. Is it the wood and mortar or is it something more ethereal and abstract? Let us remember that this Sacred House in Baghdad is not the first Baha’i property which the aggressive enemies of the Faith have spitefully destroyed. For example, a decades ago the House of the Bab in Shiraz was destroyed. The Bab’s House had been fully refurbished during the Ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, under His careful direction by one of the Afnan. More recently, the ancestral home of Baha’u’llah in Takur was destroyed. Certainly, long before such events took place we can be sure that the foresighted leaders of the Faith made extensive photos, drawings and whatever documentation was needed so that, at a future propitious time, these structures will be rebuilt accurately, probably down to the perfect positioning of every single nail and piece of wood. When the Baha’is of the future come to visit or to perform pilgrimage to these sites, everything will be perfect, just as it was. It will not matter that the specific wood and stone that was dragged away years ago will have been replaced. The Spirit will be present and all the holy memories will be recalled. It will be a beautiful place of pilgrimage.

    We only have to wait for the situation to be resolved in God’s good time.

    All the best,
    Ed

  • Baquia

    Josh, the word ‘ziarat’ in English is ‘visitation’, not pilgrimage.

  • desirivans

    Hi Allison,
    Good day

    ?’But after its link to God is abrogated, if anyone were to
    circumambulate such a structure, he would merely be circling his base self, and
    is considered by God as among the people of hell-fire.”

    And as been taught in the Writings the same Spirit is
    manifested within different bodies in different ages and only the materials laws
    that change but the spiritual laws remain the same eternally.

    Is really the materials laws more important that the
    spiritual ones.

    So refer to the Writings with the coming of the next
    revelation the believers of the precedent ones are in ?’hell- fire’’

    So from the Revelation of Jesus Christ and Muhammad there
    is only 610 years.

    And you expect that the world should have been converted
    to Christian during that 610 years for the whole humanity to be safe from hell
    fire.

    In such miserable conditions in all aspects of life at
    that time all, the Christian are the
    people of Hell if they have not recognized prophet Muhammad.

    And the same perpetuated with the coming of Bab and Bahaullah.

    With the same reasoning why the House and Shoghi Effendi
    said that Bahaullah was following the Muslim laws at that time He had several
    wives.

    You will see my comments and the reply of the House at ?’It’s
    a little Known fact’’.NEW ADDRESS. Desir0101.
    desirivans

  • Roland Green

    Baquia states that “While most Baha’is are comfortable with the idea of pilgrimage
    meaning a trip to Haifa, Israel and the surrounding areas (Bahji, Akka,
    Mazra’ih), this is simply wrong. None of those places are Baha’i sites of
    pilgrimage.” I respectfully disagree. It is true that Baha’u’llah has designates
    specific sites for ?official’ pilgrimage. These will, I humbly believe, become
    available to Baha’is in the future in God’s good time.

    Where
    in its communications with Western believers, does the House differentiate
    between hajj and ziarat in encouraging pilgrimage to the World centre of the
    Faith? The House simply encourages those who are able to come on to those Holy
    sites in Bahji, Akka, Mazra’ih to come on
    ?pilgrimage? as those before went on pilgrimage in the time of the
    Master and Guardian.

    Commonly accepted definitions of pilgrimage include:
    “A
    journey to a sacred place or shrine 2. A
    long journey or search, especially one of exalted purpose or moral
    significance.? To assert therefore, as Baquia does, that a journey to
    Baha’u’llah’s, the Bab’s and Abdu’l-Baha’is shrines are not an act of pilgrimage
    is therefore very problematic indeed. Are they not sacred places? Are the
    journeys of Baha’is to them not ones of exalted purpose and moral significance?
    Why is it ?simply wrong??

    In
    fact, there are several instances in Memorials of the Faithful in which
    Abdu’l-Baha refers even to
    the resting place of eminent Baha’is and asserts that their graves should become
    places of pilgrimage in the future. For example, regarding Jinab-iMunib, he
    states on page 147 (of my edition) that ?his grave is in Smyrna, but it is off
    by itself, and deserted. Whenever this can be done, the friends must search for
    it, and that neglected dust must be changed into a much-frequented shrine, so
    that pilgrims who visit there may breathe in the sweet scent of his last resting
    place.? This is not unlike the custom in several religions where believers visit
    the graves of saints and other holy persons of those religions.

    As
    for the sacred House in Baghdad and the Shrine of the Bab, it is rather early to
    speculate in my view that these will not eventually come into the full
    possession of the Faith, be entirely rebuilt and become points of pilgrimage for
    hundreds of millions of Baha’is in the future. This may take many decades or
    even a century or more, but, as history has shown us, the unfolding of each
    major world religion in the past has not always been in conformity with the
    expectations and assumptions of the people, societies and cultures of the first
    few centuries in which they grew from their nascent states to eventually evince
    their worldwide recognition and sovereignty as the Faith is also inexorably
    destined to do.

  • Baquia

    The definition that matters is within the Baha’i context, not a dictionary. There are two distinct categories: ziarat and hajj or visitation and pilgrimage, respectively.

  • Roland Green

    The definition that matters is the one accepted or approved by the Head of the Faith and focus of the covenant.

    In note 29 of the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Shoghi Effendi quotes a tablet of Abdu’l-Baha to an individual believer which specifies an obligation to visit the “the Most Holy Shrine” where Baha’??’llah’s sacred remains are interred. Abdu’l-Baha states: “these three Holy Places are consecrated to pilgrimage” meaning the Most Holy Shrine in Bahji, Most Sacred House in Baghdad and the House of the Bab in Shiraz.

    A journey to Bahji and the related areas of Akka, Mazra’ih and Haifa is, ipso facto, an act of pilgrimage since it fulfills the required pilgrimage to the Most Holy Shrine in Bahji which is “consecrated to pilgrimage” as speciified by Abdu’l-Baha. The House of Justice is therefore not in error, as you claim, in appropriately categorizing visits to Bahji and related areas as pilgrimage rather than visitation. As you must be well aware, several features of the Baha’? World Order exist through the Master’s authorized interpretations.

  • Roland Green

    Following up on my post re definition that matters being “the Bahi context” that Abdu’l-Baha has specifically designated
    pilgrimage to the Most Holy Shrine in Bahji, I would like to quote His
    exact words in the Synopsis and Codification of the Aqdas (Note 26):

    “But there is no obligation for everyone to visit such places, other than
    the three, namely: the Most Holy Shrine, the Blessed House in Baghdad and the
    venerated House of the Bab in Shiraz. To visit these is obligatory if one can
    afford it and is able to do so and if no obstacle stands in one’s way. Details
    are given in the Tablets. These three Holy Places are consecrated to pilgrimage.
    But as to other resting places of martyrs and holy souls, it is pleasing and
    acceptable in the sight of God if a person desires to draw nigh unto Him by
    visiting them; this, however, is not a binding obligation.”

    Pilgrimage
    to the Most Holy Shrine, in a Baha’i context, is therefore hajj and not
    ziarat as you erroneously state by claiming that pilgrimage only to two of these places is hajj. As you must be aware, several
    fundamental principles of the Baha’i Faith rest on Abdu’l-Baha’s
    interpretations ranging from monogamy to the institution of the
    Guardianship. The principle of hajj to the Most Holy Shrine is no
    different and the House is certainly not incorrect, as you assert, in
    upholding this fundamental principle of pilgrimage to Bahji and its
    related areas.

  • Baquia

    Yes, Roland. Now please show me the actual Tablets. That is, please provide the actual citation. Not hearsay.

    That is, the actual Tablet by the Master so we can all read it and see for ourselves. You know, “see with your own eyes and not with the eyes of others”.

  • Roland Green
  • Baquia

    No, that is not a citation. That is simply copy/pasting what you already wrote. A citation would be producing the actual tablet referred to.

  • Baquia

    Such a touchy reaction for a simple request: you point to ‘a tablet’ and I ask to see it for myself. Is that such a dangerous request? Why the emotional overreaching?

  • Baquia

    “consecrated by Abdul-Baha”

    where? can you please produce the tablet?

  • Baquia

    Roland, this is as simple as simple gets. I’m asking for the source and you keep writing volumes about everything except the actual source.

    It is in the definition you yourself provide above:

    “A quotation from or reference to a book, paper, or author, esp. in a scholarly work.”

    In this case the alleged author is Abdu’l-Baha in a tablet. So please provide the tablet. The actual tablet. Not references to the tablet, not rewording of the tablet.

  • Roland Green

    Baquia, It is indeed as simple as simple gets for citation purposes. I have provided you with ample citation of the source.

    The book which is the source/reference for the quotation is the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas published by the UHJ in 1973. The author of the Tablet is Abdu’l-Baha. I have already provided you with what he states in the actual Tablet and you can read it for yourself in the BRL online link provided. Everyone here can read it for themselves. You know I don’t have the actual Tablet in my possession to “provide” you with. Indeed, very few Baha’is in the world have the actual Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha in their possession. I suggest you write the BWC and they may provide you with a copy of the actual Tablet. But that is far beyond what a citation is. Asking me to provide it is like asking an author of a book which has 400+ citations (footnotes/references) to provide the actual books, papers, articles cited. This simply is not done and you should know this.

    We shall agree to disagree on this extremely simple matter.

  • Baquia

    Dear Roland, I know that you do not have the Tablet in question. That is my point my Baha’i brother! You are mistaking a secondary source (the mention of it in the KiA) as a primary source (the actual Tablet itself).

    Isn’t it rather bizarre that we don’t have the actual Tablet so we can both read it and discuss it? in its stead we have a bit of vague hand waving.

    I’m only trying to point out this vital difference between secondary and primary sources. That is why the brief mention isn’t enough for me and shouldn’t be for any thinking Baha’i.

  • Roland Green

    Dear Baquia,

    I am not sure why you are suddenly placing an emphasis on secondary versus primary sources in the context of a discussion about what citation means. I am not making a “mistake”, as you put it, since one cites what is available and in this instance it is the 1973 publication in which the Tablet is included.

    There is nothing that is “bizarre” about this. Tablets available in various Baha’i English publications (secondary sources) consisting of translations of thousands of Tablets by the Central Figures of the Faith are often cited.

    I referred earlier, as an example, to Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablet eulogizing Thomas Breakwell. We don’t demand to see the original Tablet to be satisfied that it is indeed from Abdu’l-Baha. Neither do we demand that the original Tablets in which Abdu’l-Baha condemns the use of opium and certain other drugs be produced. This could possibly lead to a new reductio ad absurdam approach in which all Baha’i texts in English are not valid unless one can produce the primary source. All secondary sources could possibly then become redundant in this paradigm shift.

    However, if you insist on having the primary source for this specific Tablet in which Abdu’l-Baha designates pilgrimage to the Most Holy Shrine as one of the three places for which pilgrimage is a “binding obligation”, I suggest you follow my previous suggestion which may help resolve your perplexity. Simply contact the House of Justice and ask them for a copy of the Tablet. The Research Department may be happy to oblige you as it has done for several Baha’i scholars who wish to more closely review primary sources during the course of their research on various subjects.

  • Baquia

    Roland, I have and they refuse to provide it. Perhaps you or others shall have better luck. It is a simple matter to request that a tablet that is referred to be quoted specifically instead of vaguely reworded. Better yet, that it be provided for all to see.