Reply to Comment on the Covenant

I noticed recently that there was a comment added to my article about the covenant and I wanted to reply to it. I have to explain that this comment was a result of a contribution I made to a thread regarding the covenant on LiveJournal’s Baha’i community website. I guess Dave saw my post there and decided to comment.I wanted to respond to a few things which Dave Howden says. First:

“Second, Shoghi Effendi did not /need/ any scriptural evidence to move this authority from the Hands of the Cause to the Guardian.”

Well, as much as we all love the Guardian, there must be scriptural grounds for such a bold move. And lets remember that Abdu’l-Baha laid out the way the Baha’i administration would function, with the roles of the different institutions and such. All I’m saying is that the authority of declaring covenant breakers was given – by Abdu’l-Baha, mind you! - to the Hands. He didn’t give it to the Guardian. That’s a fact. But we do know that the Guardian changed this and took this authority for himself. All I’m asking is, on what grounds?

Surely you are not suggesting that since he was the Guardian he could just do whatever he wanted. That would be absurd, as well as a mockery and an insult to the Master. So if we then are talking about this from the principle that for everything there must be good reasons and grounds, then my question stands.

Second, Dave says:

“It is a natural step for the UHJ to assume this role, because it is the head of the Baha’i Community of the World.”

Again, lets go back to what Abdu’l-Baha said. The Universal House of Justice and the Guardian of the Faith are the head of the Baha’i world community. Not the House by itself. If we can agree on this fact (hopefully all it takes is a reading of the Will and Testament of the Master) then we can agree that there is nothing ‘natural’ about this step.

I’ll say it again just to be clear:

Abdu’l-Baha gave the authority of declaring covenant breakers to the Hands of the Cause of God (which were to be appointed by the Guardian).

He did not give it to the Guardian.
He could have.
But he didn’t.

He did not give it to the Universal House of Justice.
He could have.
But he didn’t.

And finally, regarding the comments on shunning. I don’t want to repeat what I’ve already written. I know that we are instructed to avoid covenant breakers. I also know that this was written for a time and I believe we are past that time. I also know that Abdu’l-Baha defined faithfulness to the covenant as being so spiritual that entering into a city is enough for people to say, This is a Baha’i. And He says until you attain this station, you aren’t faithful to the covenant.

I dare say there should be a lot of shunning going on because I know that I’m definitely not there. I also know that 99.999% of the Baha’is out there aren’t there.

  • http://spaces.msn.com/members/rickschaut Rick Schaut

    First, a caveat: what follows is my personal opinion. Don’t regard this as authoritative. If you have questions on these matters, the best thing to do is write the Universal House of Justice, and ask them about it.

    While `Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament clearly grants expulsion authority to the Hands of the Cause, it helps to remember that, until Shoghi Effendi appointed the first contingent of Hands, all previous Hands of the Cause had been so named posthumously. For a good portion of Shoghi Effendi’s ministry, there were no living Hands of the Cause who could fulfill the function.

    After Shoghi Effendi appointed that first contingent, the Hands might well have assumed this function, but another principle, that of gradual implementation of the Law and provisions of the Covenant comes into play. For example, there was National Spiritual Assemblies dating back to `Abdu’l-Baha’s time, yet both He and Shoghi Effendi felt that a sufficient number of National Spiritual Assemblies needed to be formed, and they had to reach a sufficient level of maturity, before the Universal House of Justice could be established. It seems reasonable to think that Shoghi Effendi fully intended to implement this provision of `Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament, yet felt that the institution of the Hands of the Cause needed to mature a bit before they could assume this function.

    As for the Universal House of Justice’s authority to expell covenant-breakers, Shoghi Effendi’s passing, and the fact that no one remains who has the authority to appoint Hands of the Cause, the issue becomes one not covered by the sacred texts and is, therefore, subject to legislation by the Universal House of Justice. It helps to keep in mind that protection of the Cause is a function shared by both institutions: the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice.

    Hope this helps.
    Rick

  • http://spaces.msn.com/members/rickschaut Rick Schaut

    First, a caveat: what follows is my personal opinion. Don’t regard this as authoritative. If you have questions on these matters, the best thing to do is write the Universal House of Justice, and ask them about it.

    While `Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament clearly grants expulsion authority to the Hands of the Cause, it helps to remember that, until Shoghi Effendi appointed the first contingent of Hands, all previous Hands of the Cause had been so named posthumously. For a good portion of Shoghi Effendi’s ministry, there were no living Hands of the Cause who could fulfill the function.

    After Shoghi Effendi appointed that first contingent, the Hands might well have assumed this function, but another principle, that of gradual implementation of the Law and provisions of the Covenant comes into play. For example, there was National Spiritual Assemblies dating back to `Abdu’l-Baha’s time, yet both He and Shoghi Effendi felt that a sufficient number of National Spiritual Assemblies needed to be formed, and they had to reach a sufficient level of maturity, before the Universal House of Justice could be established. It seems reasonable to think that Shoghi Effendi fully intended to implement this provision of `Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament, yet felt that the institution of the Hands of the Cause needed to mature a bit before they could assume this function.

    As for the Universal House of Justice’s authority to expell covenant-breakers, Shoghi Effendi’s passing, and the fact that no one remains who has the authority to appoint Hands of the Cause, the issue becomes one not covered by the sacred texts and is, therefore, subject to legislation by the Universal House of Justice. It helps to keep in mind that protection of the Cause is a function shared by both institutions: the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice.

    Hope this helps.
    Rick

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

    Alla’u’Abha Rick:

    “the issue becomes one not covered by the sacred texts”

    well, actually the issue is explicitly covered by the sacred texts. We know from them that the HoCG are the only ones who have this authority. Period. No one else is given the authority to declare anyone a CB. Not the Guardian, not the UHJ and not grandma Betty.

    The situation which we are in came about as a result of several factors: SE declaring his whole family CB AND having no children AND not leaving a will AND not speaking or writing about who he wanted to take his place AND leaving no instructions ala Abdu’l-Baha which would have even changed the guidance of his predecessor. A confluence of ALL of these factors puts us here.

    The UHJ did not ‘legislate’ on this as there is nothing to legislate on. Legislation is defined as “making laws, regulations, or enacting legislation”.

    So legislation is when you say something like ‘all Baha’is must wear pink shoes to feast’. There are no laws, regulations, etc. enacted to deal with this issue. What you’re suggesting is actually interpretation of the texts. That is, the situation was explained in a certain way. And we know that this is the sphere of the Guardian not the UHJ.

    Protection of the Cause may be a function shared by both the UHJ and the Guardian but, this is a redherring as the authority to declare anyone a CB was given by the Master to the HoCG.

    Its pretty clear really.

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

    Alla’u’Abha Rick:

    “the issue becomes one not covered by the sacred texts”

    well, actually the issue is explicitly covered by the sacred texts. We know from them that the HoCG are the only ones who have this authority. Period. No one else is given the authority to declare anyone a CB. Not the Guardian, not the UHJ and not grandma Betty.

    The situation which we are in came about as a result of several factors: SE declaring his whole family CB AND having no children AND not leaving a will AND not speaking or writing about who he wanted to take his place AND leaving no instructions ala Abdu’l-Baha which would have even changed the guidance of his predecessor. A confluence of ALL of these factors puts us here.

    The UHJ did not ‘legislate’ on this as there is nothing to legislate on. Legislation is defined as “making laws, regulations, or enacting legislation”.

    So legislation is when you say something like ‘all Baha’is must wear pink shoes to feast’. There are no laws, regulations, etc. enacted to deal with this issue. What you’re suggesting is actually interpretation of the texts. That is, the situation was explained in a certain way. And we know that this is the sphere of the Guardian not the UHJ.

    Protection of the Cause may be a function shared by both the UHJ and the Guardian but, this is a redherring as the authority to declare anyone a CB was given by the Master to the HoCG.

    Its pretty clear really.