Papers delivered at the Irfán Colloquium Session #132 (English)
Center for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, ItalyJuly 2–5, 2015.
An Homage to Memorials of the Faithful and to Eight of Its Heroes
by Julio Savi
Memorial of the Faithful is described as an inspiring “book of prototypes,” that not only portrays “all of the archetypes that the various personality theorists have given us in this century” and “all the human dichotomies” that we may find in our lives, but also addresses “us in our time . . . [and] on our own travels . . . [in our] tacit dimension, the silent root of human life.” These features of the book have lead the author to compose eight poems on eight of the personages of the book: Shaykh Salmán, Nabíl-i-Zarandí, Darvísh-i-Ṣidq-‘Alí, Shaykh Ṣádiq-i-Yazdí, Zaynu’l-‘Ábidín Yazdí, Shaykh ‘Alí Akbar-i-Mazgání, ‘Abdu’lláh Baghdádí and Jináb-i-Muníb. They have not been chosen because they were considered in any way superior to or better than all the others. They were chosen because some of their personal qualities and of the events in their lives raised louder echoes in the author’s heart and mind. The eight poems are presented, with short explanations of the details that have moved the author to write them.
Báb’s Tablet to Mullá Ḥasan Gawhar, The: A Provisional Translation and Notes
by Nima Rafiel
Among the Writings of The Báb there are epistles and letters addressed to prominent Shaykhís during His ministry, including the infamous Ḥájí Karím Khán Kirmání. When The Báb tasked one of His disciples, one of the Letters of the Living (ḥurúf-i-ḥayy), Mullá ‘Alí Bastámí to Iráq in 1846, he was apprehended and a forum consisting of both Shí’ih and Sunní clergymen, charged the author of the new religions dispensation with apostasy and deserving of death for the claims contained in His Writings. One of those present in the forum was a certain Shaykhí from Tabríz in Iranian Ádhirbayján, Shaykh Ḥasan Gawhar, who had been a student of Siyyid Káẓim Rashtí and had attempted to advance a claim of leadership among the Shaykhís after the former’s death. In the late Abu’l Qásim Afnán’s book, ‘Ahd-i-‘A‘lá: Zindigáníy-i Ḥaḍrat-i Báb, there can be found many reproductions of original tablets and letters of The Báb and of important figures from the Bábí Dispensation in Iran, including passages from a letter addressed to Mullá Ḥasan Gawhar. In this presentation, a provisional English translation of the Arabic tablet will be presented, in addition to offering some thoughts and comments on the content of the letter and the manner in which it fits into the context of The Báb’s revelation.
Concept of “Faithfulness” in the Baha'i Texts in English Translation, The
by Wendi Momen
The Bahá’í texts touch on many facets of faithfulness: being faithful as an individual; God being faithful to His people; believers being faithful to the Covenant established by Bahá’u’lláh; Bahá’u’lláh calling the believers of a former era to be faithful to the new Manifestation of God. For people, faithfulness is a state of being, an attitude of mind and soul that reflects itself in behaviour and deeds, a spiritual quality that manifests itself in relationships as, for example, loyalty, trustworthiness and reliability. This is a preliminary examination of the concept of faithfulness in Bahá’í English-language texts and the behaviours expected from those who are faithful.
Historical and Cultural Motifs in Baha'u'llah’s Tablet to Nasir al-Din Shah
by Sivan Lerer
This tablet is the longest amongst Baha’ Allah’s tablets which are addressed to kings and rulers. Although the tablet was composed in Edirne, it was revealed to the public during Baha’ Allah’s stay in Akko, in 1869.
History of the Concept of Religion, The: Its Effect on Discourses Pertaining to the Bahá’í Faith
by Daniel Grolin
The current concept of religion imposes itself in a way that impedes the way in which the Baha’i religion can present itself in the discourses of the West and places where its discourses dominate. This paper presents Foucault’s idea of effective history, and then uses the methodology to explore the history of the concept of “Religion”. The paper concludes the exploration of religion, by looking at the way Baha’i discourses changes and reconfigures the concept of “Religion.”
Memorials of the Faithful: Hagiography and Models to Set Examples in a Religious Community
by Iscander Micael Tinto
This paper presents a mode of suggesting examples of life to a religious community, which is that of hagiography: the story of the lives of the saints. In the Christian world, the life of Jesus was the example against which saints were measured, and the lives of saints were the examples against which the general population measured itself. In the Middle Age hagiography became a literary genre par excellence for teaching a largely illiterate audience.
Provisional Translation of the Persian Tablet of Aḥmad and a Review of Its Contents
by Foad Seddigh
The Persian Tablet of Aḥmad is one of the Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh revealed in Adrianople addressed to a person by the name Aḥmad who is a native of Káshán, a city in the Central Iran. It may not be regarded as a lengthy Tablet but it contains invaluable exhortations to its recipient, the people of the Bayan, as well as other people. The Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith selected certain paragraphs from this Tablet perhaps based on the suitability of their contents and then translated them into English. Such translated paragraphs appear, in scattered form, in the body of the authorized and authentic translation of the Bahá’í Scriptures in English. Since, the original sources for most of the small passages translated by the Guardian are not readily available, the author made an effort to search and to identify the Persian counterpart for those paragraphs of this Tablet translated by the Guardian. These passages constitute almost half of the Table. Then, translated passages were placed together in the same order as that appearing in the original Tablet. However, such paragraphs did not form a continuous text and presented many gaps in between these paragraphs which were to be filled by the author of this paper through the process of translation. Such task posed a challenge arising from the fact that the author's translation of the new passages required to be compatible with and conform to the style of the translation of the Guardian both in terms of the selection of words, and poetic expressions and sentence structure.
Reflections on the Memorials of the Faithful: From the Background of Early Christian Experiences
by Per-Olof Akerdahl
Memorials of the Faithful is a unique book for many reasons. A number of early Bábís and Bahá’ís have been described in this book and they have all been faithful to the Covenant in the Faith. The author is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Centre of the Covenant in the Bahá’í Faith, which means that the stories are told by a person Who was in a position where he really could tell if a person had been faithful to the Covenant or not. It is a book that is central in the Bahá’í history, written by a person who had lived that history and been as close as possible to Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. There are 65 headings but as some headings describes more that one person there are close to 70 persons described and they are all important in the history of these two Religions at least to some extent, some of them being on the list of apostles of Bahá'u'lláh.
Relevance of Abdu'l-Baha's Secret of Divine Civilization and Treatise on Politics on the Future of Iran, The
by Habib Riazati
The appreciation and practical implications of the concept of Modernity and Renewal in all aspects of humanity seems to be at the core of creating a New World Order as `Abdu’l-Bahá envisions for the future of the World as a whole and the future of Iran in particular.
Rethinking Human Nature: The New Homo Economicus
by Nava Ashraf
This presentation describes a short history of the assumptions underlying the nature of man within the discipline of Economics, and the exciting new developments in behavioral economics, which incorporates psychology and economics. Behavioral economics challenges the classical economic assumption about human nature, that we make decisions to maximize a narrowly defined self-interest. Rigorous experiments carried out together between scholars, practitioners and policy makers have led to testing cherished assumptions within the discipline and to finding innovative, practical solutions in the field. The presenter will draw on her own research, drawing inspiration from the Baha'i Writings and using field experiments conducted with local field organizations and governments to test new ideas in behavioral economics, such as altruistic capital.
Review and Content Analysis of Aflakiyyih, `Abdu’l-Bahá’s Tablet of the Universe, A
by Habib Riazati
Abdu'l-Bahá in the "Lawh-i-Aflákiyyih" translated as "Tablet of the Universe” describes different aspects of what he refers to as "the holy realities" and the reality as "established in both the hidden and manifest worlds", The realities that "capable neither of being defined by limits nor contained within the compass of signs and allusions"; He moreover, describes how through "the power of attraction and propagation," the existence has become manifested and been "set in order" and each and every being has "became the recipients and the manifestations of "the Divine conditions and Eternal signs. Emerging from behind the veils". He furthermore explains how natural "evolution" takes place within the realm of "creation". Lastly Abdu'l-Bahá touches on the various descriptions of the Universe as explained by Ptolemy and Al-Farabi.[The original Tablet in Arabic is published in Makátib-i 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. 1, pages 13-32. There is also a provisional translation of this Tablet that can be found at bahai-library.com/abdulbaha_lawh_aflakiyyih.]
Rise of Extreme Inequality in Wealth, The: Implications of Converging Trends in Amorality and Globalization
by Rama Ayman
The tremendous strides made in globalization, especially since WWII, have converged with a trend in growing amorality as the fabric of international business conduct in society. This convergence has led to extreme inequality within majority of nations in the world at a time when on aggregate wealth inequality between nations actually has been falling at impressive rates. Here, we shall discuss the impact the rise of amorality and globalization have had on wealth inequality and the guidance we observe in the Baha’i scriptures to alleviate extremes of wealth and poverty in the context of a world that increasingly selects amorality and acting in self interest as its new ethical foundation and globalization as its tool to optimize wealth concentration.
Significance of some Historical and Holy Places Cited in the Memorials of the Faithful
by Foad Seddigh
"Memorial of the Faithful" is not merely a book devoted to the biography of some believers and historical narrative of their lives, rather a depository of matchless beauty in Persian writing, an exquisite text of profound meaning, and a testimonial to the devotion to the Cause of God and the Covenant, of some believers among whom were low as well as high in rank, poor and rich, semi-literate and learned. In the book: "Memorial of the Faithful", ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in the course of portraying the life history of some believers, has cited many villages, cities, and sites, some of which are blessed by the foot-steps of the twin manifestations of God for this age, and others are important due to being the scene of significant historical events of the Faith.
Sugary Concoction of Mindless Hagiography, A: What is New about Memorials of the Faithful
by Moojan Momen
This paper considers the literary genre and literary history behind Memorials of the Faithful (Tadhkiratu'l-Vafa) as well as examining what is new about the book. The paper will first consider the genre of hagiography in Christianity and Judaism. It will then look at the specific literary precedent set by Faridu'd-Din's Tadhkiratu'l-Awliya (Memorials of the Saints), which is the oldest work of this genre in Persian. Finally it looks at the contents of ‘Abdu'l-Baha's book, giving some examples of the manner in which ‘Abdu'l-Baha highlights particular virtues that related to the needs of the Faith. Finally the paper will examine the manner in which `Abdu'l-Baha took this traditional literary format and used it in an innovative manner to make a profound statement about a fundamental principle of the World Order of Baha'u'llah.