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Abrahamic Bahai

Discussion in 'Baha'i Faith DIR' started by Quiddity, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. Popeyesays

    Popeyesays Well-Known Member

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    "Abbas" is a name. It is fairly wide-spread. That Abdu'l Baha used it is taken by some extremists to suggest that the current president of Palestine is a secret Baha`i. That's not true of course, anymore than the city in Iran known as Bandar Abbas is named after a Baha`i.

    Before 1915 or so Persians did not have 'last names'. One was identified by honorifics and place names and 'son of . . .'. When it became law in Iran for people to take last names, Abdu'l Baha chose 'Rabbani' for Shoghi Effendi.

    By the way, 'Effendi' is a Turkish honorific for someone of authority. General 'Chinese' Gordon took the title 'Effendi' when he became the Turkish appointed governor of Sudan--twice.

    Regards,
    Scott
     
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  2. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    BruceDLimber's post just reminded me of a question that may have gone under the rug (unintentionally, I think) in post# 63.

    I really don't understand how UHJ can legislate without interpreting? :confused:
    Doesn't a body of authority have to understand (hence interpreting the text) to legislate and create new laws?
     
  3. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Well-Known Member

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    Hi, Victor!

    To my knowledge, this isn't explicitly addressed in the Baha'i scriptures.

    They do assert that the House will be divinely-guided so that its decisions are infallibly correct, but the "mechanism" by which this happens isn't stated.

    So like it or not, they seem to imply, I think, that either:
    1. The House members will already be knowledgeable enough to make these correct, informed decisions, or
    2. God will give them sufficient understanding to arrive at these, or
    3. God will supply them with the decision itself.
    The third item strikes me as definitely not the case, though, given that the Baha'i scriptures say (paraphrasing) that God willing, decisions will be unanimous, but that failing this, a majority decision will suffice (and have the same reliability).

    And thus, interpretation as such may or may not be part of this process, I suppose.

    But our point was that the FUNCTION of the House is legislation (of things not covered in our scriptures), not interpreting scripture. Officlal interpretation was the sole domain of 'Abdou'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi (as conferred by Baha'u'llah onto 'Abdu'l-Baha and then 'Abdu'l-Baha onto Shoghi Effendi), and has not been available since then save by reading what they wrote.

    And as was mentioned, the House can amend or revoke its own decisons later if conditions change, but may never alter either the Baha'i scriptures or the official interpretations.

    Regards,

    Bruce
     
  4. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Thanks Victor for your question!

    Yes understanding is essential but I don't think you understand how interpreting is meant in this case...Primarily for Baha'is interpretation of our Writings can be their own personal ideas or and more importantly the "Interpretations" of our Writings by Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, these are considered offical interpretations. The House of Justice and I would request we use that term rather than "UHJ" does not interpret the Writings for us.... It can legislate on any matters that are not in our Writings. The House defers to the Interpretations of Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi as authorized interperters. So I hope this helps!

    :super: :super:
    - Art
     
  5. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    Thanks! I have been quite impressed with the Bahai members thus far. You guys have a good group here in RF. :)

    No. 1 really didn't add anything to my understanding (just being honest..:eek: ). I had already thought that House of Justice members have to know their faith quite well to even be considered into such a body of authority.

    No. 2 is basically similar to no.1 but with God's assistance.

    No. 3 what can I say to this one? :shrug:

    None of them really tell me how they gained knowledge. Did it come in pill form? Did it get injected into their brain? I don't say this to be fecetious, but to show that knowledge comes from trying to understand. Understanding submits itself to interpretation.

    So I would imagine the members of the House of Justice have been interpreting all their lives. And they still do to this day. I know I'm getting hung up on the word "interpret" but as I said I just don't understand how it's not being done. I mean, they have to read the interpretations of Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi and the interpretation doesn't stop there.

    When I say interpret I simply mean the basica Webster definition:
    to explain or tell the meaning of

    Text always struggles in explaining meaning. No matter how clear.


    PS - Meggie's [FeathersInhair] rabble rousing and Sharon's [Booko] squaking is rubbing off on me.....:D
     
  6. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    See post# 91...:)
     
  7. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Victor wrote:

    So I would imagine the members of the House of Justice have been interpreting all their lives. And they still do to this day. I know I'm getting hung up on the word "interpret" but as I said I just don't understand how it's not being done. I mean, they have to read the interpretations of Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi and the interpretation doesn't stop there.

    ..........................

    Hi Victor! I can see this is a difficult issue for you... The House DEFERS in all it's determinations to the Interpretations of Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi...So any thing that has been interpreted by Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi can never be "re-interpreted" or added to... That's pretty much it. The House deals mostly legislating areas that are not in the Writings or Interpretations as above:

    Already in "The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh" Shoghi Effendi has shown, beyond any doubt, that the function of making authoritative interpretations of the Teachings is confined solely and exclusively to the Guardian. Neither the Universal House of Justice, nor any other institution, person or group of persons can assume that function. That the Universal House of Justice will never infringe on the functions reserved to the Guardian is shown, not only by its own words and actions, but by Shoghi Effendi's statement in that same document: "Neither can, nor will ever, infringe upon the sacred and prescribed domain of the other." It is guaranteed by the fact that the Universal House of Justice as well as the Guardian are both "under the care and protection of the Abha Beauty, under the shelter and unerring guidance of His Holiness, the Exalted One".

    So this is the reality of our Faith and just one of it's disctinctive characteristics!

    - Art




     
  8. andyjamal

    andyjamal servant

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    Obviously, to understand anything percieved, interpretation must take place. As Baha'is we are obligated to study the Writings, strive to understand them, and act according to our understanding. So, yes, in this sense the members of the UHJ are constantly involved in interpretation of the Writings. And, surely, their consultation concerning matters of legislation is motivated by their individual interpretations. However, interpretation itself is does not fall within the sphere of the UHJ's legislative authority. In other words, they would never issue a statement declaring: "such and such a verse means thus and has theological significance in this manner; therefore the official Baha'i viewpoint on said concept is this..." Their statements are more like: "Our present state of affairs is thus. Baha'u'llah encourages us to act in this manner [insert quote here], therefore we should focus our energies on such and such in order to achieve this goal."

    It should be realized, though, that the Baha'i writings (including those of Shoghi Effendi and Abdu'l-Baha) are so abundantly clear, not only on traditional theological concepts, but also on a wide variety of concepts and topics relevant to the modern world and to future generations as well; making this matter essentially a non-issue in the Baha'i world--perhaps, this is why we've had trouble explaining it.:)
     
  9. Booko

    Booko Deviled Hen

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    Well, in practice a person would be unlikely to be elected to serve that institution if they didn't know the faith fairly well. But technically speaking, there's no requirement like you would have to be say, part of the College of Cardinals. In order to be a Cardinal, you have to have some credentials, like ordination for a start. ;) We don't have anything like that.


    Study of the writings, consultation, and of course, lots of prayers. That's what Spiritual Assemblies at all levels do.

    Well yes, in one sense "reading is interpretation." But interpretation in the sense of "Baha'u'llah used this word here and the symbolic meaning of that is X, which means the nature of God is X" ... uh, no they don't do that kind of interpreting.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Popeyesays

    Popeyesays Well-Known Member

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    Victor think of it in this particular meaning as AUTHORITATIVE INTERPRETATION. Abdu'l Baha and Shoghi Effendi had the power to do that. To say, this means such and such.

    I interpret all the time, but my interpretation is not authoritative. It's personal. I MUST do that for myself and be guided by authoritative interpretation while doing so. If you ask me what such and such means, I'll do my best, but you have to understand the proviso that I could be dead wrong.

    Regards,
    Scott
     
  11. Booko

    Booko Deviled Hen

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    Maybe an example? Baha'is are forbidden to consume alcohol. Um...ok...does that mean I drink de-alcoholized wine (which still has a trace of alcohol in it?) The House of Justice has "legislated" on this question and said:
    But this isn't a theological question. It's a question of how to apply a religous law.

    In requires interpretation in one sense, of course, because the members of that institution had to read the Writings and understand them.

    Exactly. As Bruce pointed out, we really don't have questions about what texts are authentic (a great timesaver!). And the sheer volume and clarity is also helpful. And finally, we are not thousands of years removed from our texts, so they are attuned to the conditions of our times, and we don't have any excuses to ignore parts we don't like because "it was meant for another time and is not outdated." I'm sure you've heard that before more than once. :)
     
  12. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    The whole "no priesthood" thing kinda gave that away. But I gotcha...:)

    I think this just clarified the issue for me. And perhaps this will help you all the next time ya'll talk to a Catholic (or at least a crazy catholic like me....:jester5: ). What you guys call interpret we call define. For us, there is no escaping interpretation. We all do it. But we don't all define things in a formal manner as to have others be bound to it.

    Thanks a bundle!
     
  13. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    That certainly makes things much easier, don't it? If the text says "no alcohol", it's rather difficult to explain that away, eh? We have some similar texts and some more unclear ones that cause division.
     
  14. Booko

    Booko Deviled Hen

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    Thanks, Victor! That is indeed helpful...hopefully I will remember this the next time the subject comes up.

    It might be interesting to do a little compare and contrast in Comparitive Religion between religions that have a very defined structure. Catholics (all kinds), Baha'is and LDS probably have more in common than we suspect.

    And those outside our faiths frequently misunderstand and assume we're all just mindlessly doing whatever we're told from on high. :D

    Well, yes. There are some things so clear that we simply can't get around them. The polity of our faith is one of them.

    You pretty much have two choices there, since Baha'u'llah defined how things were supposed to work within the faith:

    1. You believe Baha'u'llah was who He said he was, so you accept the polity and how it works.
    2. You don't believe Baha'u'llah was who He said he was, so...you're not a Baha'i.

    As you might guess, there are a few people who still try to have it both ways, but in the end it never amounts to much, and so that clarity Baha'u'llah gave us has helped us avoid sectarianism. That's helped a lot in avoiding distractions over the years.
     
  15. Popeyesays

    Popeyesays Well-Known Member

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    Lots of the Baha`i social laws are clarifications and simplifications of the religions before them.

    The Qur'an for instance goes to great lengths to define what is clean and unclean.

    Baha`u'llah took away all those worries by declaring that in this age there is NO unclean substance. This means doctors and nurses don't have to worry about bodily fluids making them 'unclean'. Foods are made lawful to anyone without having to worry about what is 'halal' and what is not.

    Baha`u'llah makes only two statements about what not to eat--the flesh of animals taken dead from a trap )this is obviusly because you have no idea how long the animal has been dead or what disease it might now be carrying). The skin and pelt are acceptable still, but not the flesh.

    The other injunction is that we not 'plunge our hands' into a common food bowl.

    Thus all the worries of 'Kosher' and 'Halal' are removed and life is much easier.

    Regards,
    Scott
     
  16. Cosmos

    Cosmos Member

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    This is simply not true, my friend. Many devoted Baha'is who are outstandingly active in the Baha'i Administration attempt to make the claim that the Universal House of Justice has authority over "spiritual matters" rather than "matters of state", as they are being taught to believe this is the truth. I, however, encourage all Baha'is of scholarly mind to read the 8th Ishraqat of the Aqdas:

    :lunar:

    It is the very opposite interpretation that is causing division within the ranks of the Baha'i Community, dear friend! Many have withdrawn or challenged the authority of the current UHJ as the Head of the Faith for various legitimate reasons. Please deepen yourself on the express command of Baha'u'llah and rescind any attempts by our Administrative Order in making our Administration anything more than safeguarding our rights as individual believers to worship as we choose or our UHJ from exacting excessive authority outside of aiding and assisting the teaching efforts or enforcing the will of the People (i.e. Believers). :slap:
     
    #96 Cosmos, May 8, 2010
    Last edited: May 8, 2010
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