It’s a little known fact. . . [3]

You know it!

Back by popular demand, here is the third installment in this series. For those of you who don’t know what this is all about, its basically a fact or trivia that for some strange reason, 99.99% of Baha’is don’t know of.

Now, I’ve been getting some feedback which goes something like this: “Meh, I knew that.” I think those that respond like that don’t really get what this is all about. It isn’t about what you may know or not know; its about something which the vast majority of the Baha’is out there don’t know. Oh, and if you do know, then good on ya mate! We’re all very proud of you.

So without further ado, lets get down to business:

Its a little known fact. . .that Baha’is are not forbidden from reading covenant-breaker material.

Shocking! Scandalous! Get my oxygen mask! Where’s that thorazine drip? Nuuuurse!!

Once you are appropriately medicated and are ready to go on, I will tell you that indeed this is true. See for yourself:

To read the writings of Covenant-breakers is not forbidden to the believers and does not constitute in itself an act of Covenant-breaking.
(Universal House of Justice — October 29, 1974)

The House of Justice has instructed us to say that, as you are no doubt aware, it is not prohibited for Baha’is to read the writings of Covenant-breakers…
(Secretariat — October 12, 1978)

And yet there is a persistent myth that Baha’is are forbidden or not allowed to (according to Baha’i law or authoritative instructions) to read material which was written by a covenant-breaker.

That this myth exists and is perpetuated is inexcusable – hence our shattering of it. But it is understandable once you remember two things. One, that the UHJ strongly discouraged Baha’is from reading such material (many individuals misinterpret this to mean that they are not free to decide for themselves) and two, that covenant-breakers aren’t looked upon too kindly. Well, that’s putting it diplomatically. In the minds of most Baha’is, they are categorized, in terms of attractiveness, somewhere among psychopaths and lepers (or a psychopathic leper). In short, they are to be shunned and avoided, at all costs.

A rather extreme measure, I’m sure you’ll agree. So why not then go one step further from discouragement to outright banning if covenant-breakers are so nasty?

I think the answer is that to do so would be to go against the most fundamental principle of the Baha’i Faith: individual and independant investigation of truth. And it is telling just how much this verity is prized that when it goes up against such a charged facet of the Faith as covenant-breakers, it comes out on top.

Interestingly enough I had a conversation a while back on LJ’s Baha’i forum on this very topic. One of the moderators (who finds it vital to their existence to correct me – especially when I’m not wrong) piped in and screamed:

WRONG!

And then went on to post quote after quote (like the above) which actually showed that Baha’is are not forbidden from reading covenant-breaker material. I don’t have a link to that because my comments as well as others’ were censored by the same moderator. But this moderator also ‘corrected’ me in this other thread. I mentioned that the UHJ only has legislative authority and then I was told ‘incorrect’ by the moderator and given quotes which shows that the UHJ only has legislative authority. Another person did something similar in this thread (here it is without censorship). If you need to go lie down after reading that, I don’t blame you. It seems that this whole topic evokes such a strong emotional reaction from Baha’is that they enter a state of temporary insanity. But I digress.

So the next time some Baha’i implies or says that they are forbidden from reading covenant-breaker material, you can show that this is patently, categorically, and absolutely false.

Just be ready to duck in an alley to escape the shrapnel as they explode in a hot flash of indignant (or is that ignorant) rage.

  • http://sholeh.calmstorm.net/blog/ Sholeh

    I have a question: why is it so important that people are not forbidden to read CB material? Most, if not all, Baha’is I know, are aware of this. So I am at a loss when I try to understand what your point here is.

    Please do not link to my personal journal. If you have a problem with me, please bring it up to me via email, which is clearly stated. You have not done so, which shows that you either enjoy sowing dissention, or that you have a grudge against me for some reason. I am not perfect, nor do I claim to be. I am doing the best I can, as do we all. If I am wrong, I’m wrong, heaven forbid! If you’re wrong…well, it seems that you will never admit it. I’m so sorry if you feel attacked, or mistreated. But think about how your actions and words affect others, as well. Thanks.

  • http://sholeh.calmstorm.net/blog/ Sholeh

    I have a question: why is it so important that people are not forbidden to read CB material? Most, if not all, Baha’is I know, are aware of this. So I am at a loss when I try to understand what your point here is.

    Please do not link to my personal journal. If you have a problem with me, please bring it up to me via email, which is clearly stated. You have not done so, which shows that you either enjoy sowing dissention, or that you have a grudge against me for some reason. I am not perfect, nor do I claim to be. I am doing the best I can, as do we all. If I am wrong, I’m wrong, heaven forbid! If you’re wrong…well, it seems that you will never admit it. I’m so sorry if you feel attacked, or mistreated. But think about how your actions and words affect others, as well. Thanks.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/1082818 Baquia

    Sholeh (I’m assuming that it is you),

    As a moderator you continuously censor my contributions with impunity. You lash out at me and call me a ‘covenant-breaker’ and worse. You repeatedly put vile words in my mouth and then attack me for supposedly saying them.

    And when I call you up on these things…you erase the whole thread and disappear into the ether!

    Just recently your bias showed itself when I posted a reply on LJ on a discussion about ‘irfan. You erased my contribution because it contained a link to Juan Cole’s provisional translation of Baha’u’llah’s Tablet of the Sacred Night.

    Then it was pointed out to you by others that there is nothing wrong with a provisional translation or Cole’s site (and that bahai-library.org actually links to it). You did not replace my post after learning that or apologize to me.

    In fact, as a moderator you should have checked the facts before you censored my legitimate post but even overlooking this, you could have simply said, “oops! sorry Baquia, please post your contribution again as I made a boo-boo”.

    That you didn’t shows just how biased and fanatical you are. And if you’ll notice, eventhough I have the ability to erase your post, I didn’t. I’m here responding to it like a mature human being.

    Which is much more than I can say for you and your KGB like tactics over on LJ.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/1082818 Baquia

    Sholeh (I’m assuming that it is you),

    As a moderator you continuously censor my contributions with impunity. You lash out at me and call me a ‘covenant-breaker’ and worse. You repeatedly put vile words in my mouth and then attack me for supposedly saying them.

    And when I call you up on these things…you erase the whole thread and disappear into the ether!

    Just recently your bias showed itself when I posted a reply on LJ on a discussion about ‘irfan. You erased my contribution because it contained a link to Juan Cole’s provisional translation of Baha’u’llah’s Tablet of the Sacred Night.

    Then it was pointed out to you by others that there is nothing wrong with a provisional translation or Cole’s site (and that bahai-library.org actually links to it). You did not replace my post after learning that or apologize to me.

    In fact, as a moderator you should have checked the facts before you censored my legitimate post but even overlooking this, you could have simply said, “oops! sorry Baquia, please post your contribution again as I made a boo-boo”.

    That you didn’t shows just how biased and fanatical you are. And if you’ll notice, eventhough I have the ability to erase your post, I didn’t. I’m here responding to it like a mature human being.

    Which is much more than I can say for you and your KGB like tactics over on LJ.

  • Phillip

    Of course it’s true — Covenant-breaker materials can be perused, though it’s discouraged. Second-guessing “why” in these matters is generally an exercise in revealing one’s own prejudices… so here I go! My feeling is that a provisional translation such as that of the Tablet of the Sacred Night is a decided non-issue — it is scripture. What is particualrly discouraged is writings AGAINST THE FAITH. It is not that someone becomes a disease and any contact with them is potentially likely to lead to infection; it seems to me that it is just inadvisable to expose oneself to poisonous attacks against the Faith, especially by a former Baha’i, who can more subtly argue against the Faith.

    Calling independent investigation of truth “the most important principle” is a little misleading. What is most important in the Faith is to know and worship God, and by extension His Manifestation in this day. Of course, I agree this should be done by independent investigation. But regarding Covenant-breakers — reading writings against the Faith is not independent investigation — what one needs to do is to investigate its claims with fairness. In this country people get the “courtroom” approach to seeking truth, as if listening to proponents and antagonists is the best method. This is not stated anywhere in the Writings. The way to seek truth is clearly stated in the “Tablet of the True Seeker” in the Iqan — purify your soul, remove all dust and dirt of hatred and fear.

  • Phillip

    Of course it’s true — Covenant-breaker materials can be perused, though it’s discouraged. Second-guessing “why” in these matters is generally an exercise in revealing one’s own prejudices… so here I go! My feeling is that a provisional translation such as that of the Tablet of the Sacred Night is a decided non-issue — it is scripture. What is particualrly discouraged is writings AGAINST THE FAITH. It is not that someone becomes a disease and any contact with them is potentially likely to lead to infection; it seems to me that it is just inadvisable to expose oneself to poisonous attacks against the Faith, especially by a former Baha’i, who can more subtly argue against the Faith.

    Calling independent investigation of truth “the most important principle” is a little misleading. What is most important in the Faith is to know and worship God, and by extension His Manifestation in this day. Of course, I agree this should be done by independent investigation. But regarding Covenant-breakers — reading writings against the Faith is not independent investigation — what one needs to do is to investigate its claims with fairness. In this country people get the “courtroom” approach to seeking truth, as if listening to proponents and antagonists is the best method. This is not stated anywhere in the Writings. The way to seek truth is clearly stated in the “Tablet of the True Seeker” in the Iqan — purify your soul, remove all dust and dirt of hatred and fear.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Phillip, thanks for your thoughts. I’m a little puzzled when you disagree that independant investigation of truth is not the most important principle since it is the prerequisite for finding God and knowing God. Is it not?

    It precedes everything. Without it, nothing else of value can follow.

    Also, how can one “investigate its claims with fairness” as you suggest if one does not also read what disagrees with it? Is not justice the best beloved of all in His sight? and wouldn’t justice imply that one investigate all matters pertaining to the issue?

    As I’ve already stated, coccooning oneself away from such perceived negative influences does not serve to elevate one’s soul. If this be the Faith of God, then no mortal schemes can foil ir or even alter its course. So what are some afraid of?

    I think they are afraid to use their own minds. It is much easier to simply believe without investigating and knowing. But conviction borne of ignorance is simply fanaticism and taqlid. Both are things which Baha’is are forbidden in exercising.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Phillip, thanks for your thoughts. I’m a little puzzled when you disagree that independant investigation of truth is not the most important principle since it is the prerequisite for finding God and knowing God. Is it not?

    It precedes everything. Without it, nothing else of value can follow.

    Also, how can one “investigate its claims with fairness” as you suggest if one does not also read what disagrees with it? Is not justice the best beloved of all in His sight? and wouldn’t justice imply that one investigate all matters pertaining to the issue?

    As I’ve already stated, coccooning oneself away from such perceived negative influences does not serve to elevate one’s soul. If this be the Faith of God, then no mortal schemes can foil ir or even alter its course. So what are some afraid of?

    I think they are afraid to use their own minds. It is much easier to simply believe without investigating and knowing. But conviction borne of ignorance is simply fanaticism and taqlid. Both are things which Baha’is are forbidden in exercising.

  • Jaap

    Dear Baquia,

    Thank you for your thoughts, claiming that indepedent investigation of truth
    “precedes everything” is an absolute statement and therefore it excludes all other arguments.Don’t you see that this argument bites itself in it’s tail?
    Obviously I am not able to provide conclusive answers, but I do feel that independant investigation of truth can be used to determine in which direction you want your soul to travel.Once your direction is chosen do you need to continue questioning your direction through indep. invest.? Furthermore,it is not the argument itself that drives believers apart, but the claim to absolute truth
    by either one.Intentionality is more important here, some call this ego, and as far as this is concerned,Baha??’llah says in the tablet of the true seeker;

    “purify your soul, remove all dust and dirt of hatred and fear”

  • Jaap

    Dear Baquia,

    Thank you for your thoughts, claiming that indepedent investigation of truth
    “precedes everything” is an absolute statement and therefore it excludes all other arguments.Don’t you see that this argument bites itself in it’s tail?
    Obviously I am not able to provide conclusive answers, but I do feel that independant investigation of truth can be used to determine in which direction you want your soul to travel.Once your direction is chosen do you need to continue questioning your direction through indep. invest.? Furthermore,it is not the argument itself that drives believers apart, but the claim to absolute truth
    by either one.Intentionality is more important here, some call this ego, and as far as this is concerned,Baha??’llah says in the tablet of the true seeker;

    “purify your soul, remove all dust and dirt of hatred and fear”

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Jaap,
    the short answer to your inquiry as to whether one should continue to use independent investigation of truth after having decided on the direction of one’s soul… is YES!!

    For if it were no, then no one would ever have the bounty of discovering the next Manifestation of God! Think of it… hundreds of years later when the next Manifestation of God comes to this world, should Baha’is of that time do as other humans have done in the past? deny, torture, and ultimately kill Her/Him? saying, ‘we have set our souls on their journey, we no longer need independent investigation of truth to determine the validity of your claim’?

    Independant investigation of truth is not a destination, it is a journey with no end… for its ultimate goal is the attainment of God, Truth, the Essence of Reality.

    How sad, how sad, to be so blinded by prejudice and ignorance while professing to possess true understanding.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Jaap,
    the short answer to your inquiry as to whether one should continue to use independent investigation of truth after having decided on the direction of one’s soul… is YES!!

    For if it were no, then no one would ever have the bounty of discovering the next Manifestation of God! Think of it… hundreds of years later when the next Manifestation of God comes to this world, should Baha’is of that time do as other humans have done in the past? deny, torture, and ultimately kill Her/Him? saying, ‘we have set our souls on their journey, we no longer need independent investigation of truth to determine the validity of your claim’?

    Independant investigation of truth is not a destination, it is a journey with no end… for its ultimate goal is the attainment of God, Truth, the Essence of Reality.

    How sad, how sad, to be so blinded by prejudice and ignorance while professing to possess true understanding.

  • Pingback: The Biggest Mistake Baha'is Make

  • Pingback: Yes Virginia, Gay Baha’is Do Exist

  • Pingback: Boycott of Kalimat

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Brent, so you agree with me then, that Baha’is are not forbidden to read anything and everything. As for the analogy of poison: from cyanide to snake-poison, many varieties are used in medicine to cure and heal.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Brent, so you agree with me then, that Baha’is are not forbidden to read anything and everything. As for the analogy of poison: from cyanide to snake-poison, many varieties are used in medicine to cure and heal.

  • snorkle

    I had never encountered a covenant breaker (or even thought much about them) but finally did and this is what happened: at an Assembly meeting the secretary informed us a Baha'i couple had just moved into our (small) town because the wife had a job. The husband, we were informed, was going to take a year off to “teach the Faith”. I thought “Oh, I'll just be inactive for a year”. On the way out of the meeting, I mentioned to a couple of the Baha'is, “I'm going to be inactive for a year”. They asked why and at that point I realized it was the husband in our new Baha'i couple. Never met the guy. Never would. Simple as that. You will, perhaps, guess the rest. The husband turned out to be an “associate” of covenant breakers.

    This was a profound experience for me. I have never, before or since, felt so certain about anything. I didn't feel fear but nothing on earth could have dragged me to a meeting with this guy. The wife turned out to be fine, several of us knew her with no problems.

    So, while I do know that reading CB material is not forbidden, I don't do it. My choice.

    Personally, I think there is much more going on in life than we give it credit for. Science and reason are great stuff but other things matter as well. It's is not meant to be simple.

    This is my first post on bahairants and I'm looking forward to being here. I am a bit of an outcast in the Canadian Baha'i community because I say what I think and believe. I used to think I was “right” to do so but lurking here has been interesting — I would not want the Baha'i community to be this contentious so perhaps I will become convinced of the need for the repression of ideas in the Baha'i world. I still won't like it though.

  • Baquia

    snorkle, totally agree – let's wrap our ideas in bubble wrap and then sugar candy so that they never ever clash, lest they create a spark of truth.

  • snorkle

    Yes, the bubble wrap and sugar candy approach to consultation definitely sucks, baquia, and I do agree that many Baha'is try exactly that but it ends in tears, sooner or later.

  • snorkle

    Yes, the bubble wrap and sugar candy approach to consultation definitely sucks, baquia, and I do agree that many Baha'is try exactly that but it ends in tears, sooner or later.