October 26, 2014

Commentary on the Kitab-i-Aqdas -- a talk by Hand of the Cause Abu'l-Qasim Faizi, 1973

Dear friends of the United States of America. Your National Assembly has given me a special honor and privilege to talk to you about the Mother Book of the Bahá'í Faith, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. I first give you the outline of this page with the hope that you will follow the subject matter one by one, and I pray that it will be well received by all the dear ones in that vast country.

First, the order in Bahá'u'lláh's life and His writings. Second, the revelation of the Book of Aqdas, where, in what year, how long. Third, the two gifts given to mankind through the Book of Aqdas. Fourth, this book is a gate through which mankind enters the age of maturity. There are many reasons for these, but three will be given here. Fifth, is the last one, and most important one. What is it, what exists in this Book which makes it the Mother Book of our Faith and this Dispensation?

Now we will start one by one, and before I start I pray to God that He will confirm me and strengthen me to do justice to this great subject.

Simplicity is the basis and order of Bahá'u'lláh's life. It rules throughout His ways and manners of living, including garments, residence, furniture, His approach to His friends and followers, and as a matter of fact, to all the people of the world. The same order applies to His Writings. All are easy to read, to follow and understand. Almost every Tablet starts with the praise of God, and immediately after that, He starts to answer questions put to Him by the believers. His answers are always direct, frank, to the point, and concise. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule and there are obvious reasons for such exceptional cases. I mention three of these exceptions.

The first is the Tablet to the King of Persia, Násiri'd-Dín Sháh. The language is very exalted and in some parts the vocabulary is very powerful and difficult to understand. The reason is this, that the King had been surrounded by the divines, who always boasted of their knowledge of the Arabic language. Bahá'u'lláh, Who had never been to their schools, by using elaborate words and perfect melodious sentences desired to awaken and address the King and his entourage to the source of His revelation, the greatness of His Cause, and the exceptional power with which He had been endowed. When the King received this Tablet, he sent it to the divines of his country and asked them to compose a suitable answer, but none dared to even a sentence which could be compared with the perfection of words, style and melody used by Bahá'u'lláh in that great Tablet.

October 12, 2014

Shoghi Effendi, Expounder of the Word of God – by David Hofman

[This essay was originally presented to the Ninth Annual Conference of the Association of Baha'i Studies. 'The Vision of Shoghi Effendi', November 1984 in Chicago, where it was read on behalf of the author. See proceedings of the conference to be published by the Association in late 1991.]

When, in 1921, Shoghi Effendi acceded to the office of Guardianship of the Baha'i Faith, he was in his second year as a student at Balliol College, Oxford. The traumatic shock of the Master's passing had barely given way to consciousness of unbearable loss, when the second blow fell with the reading of the Will and Testament, and this totally dedicated, modest young man faced the awe‑inspiring, appalling prospect of his appointment. He was overwhelmed. After a brief stay in Haifa he committed the care of the Faith to the Greatest Holy Leaf and retired for eight months to solitude and preparation.

Upon his return to Haifa it quickly became apparent that he had assumed the full responsibilities of his office, while more gradually it was realized that the functions of that office were unique in the history of the world. Present‑day visitors to the World Centre, students of the Revelation and the hosts of new believers now entering the Cause rapidly become aware of his mighty works. They see the magnificent gardens at Bahji and on Carmel, the Shrine of the Báb, the International Archives Building, the great arc which he created on the Mountain of God upon which Baha'u'llah has established His throne; his translations into English of the Sacred Word are the daily food of anglophone believers and the foundation of translations into other languages; one whole generation and more witnessed the rise of the Administrative Order under his direction, responded to his constant call to spread the knowledge and establish the institutions of the Faith throughout the earth, and all stand amazed at the vast range of his achievements and the character of his leadership, a leadership which evoked in a handful of ordinary people powers and capacities which they did not know they possessed and which enabled them to achieve, under his guidance, tasks inconceivable and impossible without his God‑given genius.