Critique of ITC Study of Guardianship & UHJ – Part Two

Posted on April 1, 2009. Filed under: book analysis | Tags: |

This is part Two of a Critique by Hand of Cause of God David Maxwell of A Study for Auxiliary Board Members of the Guardianship & The Universal House of Justice Prepared by the International Teaching Centre (of the heterodox Bahá’ís).  Click here to read: Part 1 | Part 3| Part 4 | Part 5| Part 6

HOW AUTHORITATIVE IS YOUR INTERPRETER?

ITC Position:

Individual interpretations based on a person’s understanding of the Teachings constitute the fruit of man’s rational power and may well contribute to a more complete understanding of the Faith. Such views, however, lack authority. The believers are, therefore, free to accept or disregard them. Further, the manner in which an individual presents his interpretation is important. For example, he must at no time deny or contend with the authoritative interpretation, but rather offer his idea as a contribution to knowledge, making it clear that his views are merely his own. (5)

Critique:

Preposterous! The reader will note that in the first sentence of the above paragraph, the word *Teachings* is capitalized. It is customary in the Bahá’í Faith that any time capitalization is used in describing the Writings, that particular passage is recognized to be from the pen of one the Three Central Figures. While the ITC says that “...Such views (of the believers), however, lack authority,” they encourage the believers to continue doing so. Now, why should the believers be encouraged to read and perhaps question the Holy Writings and retain those ideas rather than to be encouraged to search the Writings further for additional enlightenment that may lead to a correct understanding of issues? A truly enlightened Bahá’í knows that Holy Writ is simply that, and may never be questioned. However, she is entitled to present her question to the one authorized by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to correctly answer the question. When a passage in the Writings seems perplexing, that believer should be entitled to have the auspices of the Institution of the Guardianship to correctly answer the question. The audacity of the bogus UHJ to deny their believers that right smacks of denial of the Faith itself, since those Writings are Holy Writ and carry the direction of God Himself! Only a guardian who is alive on this earth may interpret those Writings. Only a legitimate Universal House of Justice with a living-breathing guardian residing as its head may in any manner establish policy on any of those Writings.

What the bogus Universal House of Justice is promoting is that their authority transcends the authority of Bahá’u’lláh, and thus, God Himself!

No wonder there is confusion among the heterodox Bahá’ís who reject the Institution of the Guardianship as the Center of the Cause in this day. The bogus UHJinvites them to accept whatever each individual decides the Writings say to them, but they may not promote those ideas as “gospel” truth. After an individual comes to his/her own conclusion, they must ultimately turn to the bogus UHJ for the “final word” about the Teachings. It appears that the UHJ must continually fabricate some reason or other as to why they have no living guardian. With effort being consumed for merely justifying their position one wonders whether any time is available for promoting the Faith?

How much simpler the Orthodox Baha’is have it. Everything they read from the Holy Writings fits perfectly with everything else they read. They never have to ask about perceived differences among the Holy Books. They read for themselves, and turn to the Guardian for guidance only when they read something that they are not clear about. They never have to argue away anything. The living Guardian is their ultimate one-and-only- God-inspired authority. The Guardian considers each facet of any Holy Writing within the context of all the other Holy Writings for the basis of his pronouncements.

While the Guardian relies upon the entire context and scope of the available information,the bogus UHJ has to pick and choose among available segments for whatever they
believe will justify their position on any issue at any particular time. The process that the bogus UHJ demands of their believers, and it is my understanding that demand is the correct word, smacks in the face of one of the basic principles of the Faith, *the independent investigation of truth.* Humans are commanded by Bahá’u’lláh to search Holy Writ themselves (such Writings as written by the Three Central Figures of the Faith) to become educated in the ways and precepts of their Faith. Gleaning from the fount of knowledge of Holy Writ, being continually in its presentation and acting in conformance with that is the only manner in which a mature civilization may optimally function. How confusing to a believer it must be when an answer she receives may not fit with what she reads from the Writings the very next day. Is that not like being taught that two plus two equals five, then finding information in the Writings that postulates, just as you suspected, that two plus two equals four, rather than five?

The primary reason for there not being clergy in the Bahá’í Faith is that humans must now learn for themselves from the Holy Writings, and then apply that knowledge accordingly. The beauty of the Faith is that a means to reach pure understanding is always available to them. This is an essential blessing of these Teachings. Have not the sans-guardian believers elevated the members of their bogus House of Justice to the station of clergy, even though they do not classify them as such?

ITC Position:
What conditions did ‘Abdu’l-Bahá set for the appointment of the Guardian after Shoghi Effendi?

1. Must be hereditary
In His Will and Testament the Master “establishes the institution of the Guardianship as a hereditary office” (6) He does so with these words: [A]fter him will succeed the firstborn of his lineal descendants. (7)

In numerous instances, Shoghi Effendi states categorically that the Guardianship is a hereditary office. Below are two such examples: [I]n the explanation which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in one of His Tablets, has given to, and the emphasis He has placed upon, the hereditary principle and the law of primogeniture as having been upheld by the Prophets of the past-in these we can discern the faint glimmerings and discover the earliest intimation of the nature and working of the Administrative Order which the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was at a later time destined to proclaim and formally establish. (8)

Moreover, he who symbolizes the hereditary principle in this Dispensation has been made the interpreter of the words of its Author . . . .(9)

Critique:

It is interesting that the ITC mentions that the hereditary principle is symbolized by the guardian, (and not the other way around.) While the statement they cite is absolutely true as written, the bogus UHJ has *interpreted* it to mean otherwise. Those words from the “World order of Bahá’u’lláh” page 153, are so clear as to not be open for interpretation. Had there been some other *hidden* meaning, no doubt the author of that statement, the First Guardian, would have told us so. He did not. It states that the guardian symbolizes the hereditary principle, but mentions nothing about it being a part of the authorization process for becoming guardian in the first place. Various conditions outlined in the Will are intended for that. After satisfying the check-list in the Will, then and only then, does the new guardian become the symbol of the hereditary principle.

ITC Position:
2. Must be a male descendant of Bahá’u’lláh

In accordance with the hereditary principle, the Will and Testament of the Masterstipulates that the Guardian must be a lineal descendent of Bahá’u’lláh.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote:

Thus, should the first-born of the guardian of the Cause of God not manifest in himself the truth of the words:-“The child is the secret essence of its sire,” that is, should he not inherit of the spiritual within him (the guardian of the Cause of God) and his glorious lineage not be matched with a goodly character, then must he, (the guardian of the Cause of God) choose another branch to succeed him. (10)

The terms “first-born of the Guardian” and “another branch” [In Arabic Ghusn meaning “branch” is the singular form of Aghsán which means “branches”] show that Shoghi Effendi was directed to appoint either his eldest son or, if he was unqualified, another male descendant of Bahá’u’lláh This is consistent with Shoghi Effendi’s statement that the term Aghsán “refers to Bahá’u’lláh’s descendants.” (11)

However, Shoghi Effendi had no children and by the time he had passed away “all the surviving Aghsán had broken the Covenant.” (12)

Critique:

The International Teaching Centre uses a paragraph obviously written by someone other than Shoghi Effendi, from a book of his authorship (the phraseology used is not in conformance with that typically found in Shoghi Effendi’s writings.) Additionally, the statement is in conflict with one that Shoghi Effendi obviously wrote at another time. The statement they use is from (reference 11) The Bahá’í Publishing Trust, Lights of Guidance, 4th rev. 1996, 2001 printing page 472, #1548. Read it for yourself:

ITC Position:

25 September 1934

Dear Dr. Mühlschlegel,

I am directed by the Guardian to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated August 29th, and to express his appreciation of your highly-valued efforts for the translation of the “Kitáb-i-‘Ahd” into German. He hopes that copies of this precious tablet will soon be made available to all the friends, and that through its study their knowledge of the Teachings will be deepened, and their zeal for their spread stimulated and sustained.

The term “afnán” means literally small branch, and refers to the relatives of the Báb,both men and women. As the Báb’s only son died while in infancy, the former had no direct descendants. The “afnán” are, therefore, all indirectly related to the Báb. As to “aghsán”, it also means branch. But it is a bigger branch than “afnán”. It refers to Bahá’u’lláh’s descendants.

The “Kitáb-i-‘Ahd” is, as you know, Bahá’u’lláh’s “Book of Covenant”. It is entirely written in His own handwriting.

And in the light of the objections raised by some of the believers concerning the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, it is highly significant to note that this Book of Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh bears neither signature, nor seal, nor any date. It was shown to the believers, and was read in their presence nine days after Bahá’u’lláh’s ascension. The manuscript was in the possession of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá all through His ministry, and after His passing it was found enclosed in His own will. These two precious documents, namely the book of Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh and the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have both been carefully preserved and are now in the possession of the Guardian….

[From the Guardian:]

Dear and valued co-worker:

I greatly value these fresh evidences of your continued, your intelligent and most helpful labours for a better understanding and a wider diffusion of the essentials and fundamentals of our beloved Faith.

You are indeed a pillar of the Administrative Order, which, despite the storms and tests of recent years, is rearing its head in the heart of your beloved and promising country.

Persevere, be happy and confident. I will continue to pray for you from the depths of  my heart.

Your true and grateful brother,

Shoghi

— Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance (Volume 1)

Critique:

Upon reading the above segment, clearly written by two different individuals, please direct your attention to the following from Shoghi Effendi’s book, “God Passes By,” page 239, wherein he clearly describes the Aghsán as the sons of Baha’u’llah:

“…and directs, in particular, the Aghsán (His sons) to ponder the “mighty force and the consummate power that lieth concealed in the world of being.” He bids them, moreover, together with the Afnán (the Báb’s kindred) and His own relatives, to “turn, one and all, unto the Most Great Branch (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)”; identifies Him with “the One Whom God hath purposed,” “Who hath branched from this pre-existent Root,” referred to in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas; ordains the station of the “Greater Branch” (Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí) to be beneath that of the “Most Great Branch” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá); exhorts the believers to treat the Aghsán with consideration and affection; counsels them to respect His family and relatives, as well as the kindred of the Báb; denies His sons “any right to the property of others”; enjoins on them, on His kindred and on that of the Báb to “fear God, to do that which is meet and seemly” and to follow the things that will “exalt” their station; warns all men not to allow “the means of order to be made the cause of confusion, and the instrument of union an occasion for discord”; and concludes with an exhortation calling upon the faithful to “serve all nations,” and to strive for the “betterment of the world.”

While it is true, technically, that the sons of Bahá’u’lláh are included in His descendants, why does the bogus UHJ rank as more important a statement made by one of Shoghi Effendi’s assistants, rather than one made by Shoghi Effendi himself? Particularly when Shoghi Effendi’s statement is more definitive than the one used by the bogus UHJ?

This concludes Part Two of the Critique.

This is part Two of a Critique by Hand of Cause of God David Maxwell of A Study for Auxiliary Board Members of the Guardianship & The Universal House of Justice Prepared by the International Teaching Centre (of the heterodox Bahá’ís).  Click here to read: Part 1 | Part 3| Part 4 | Part 5| Part 6

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