Papers delivered at the ‘Irfán Colloquium Session #146 (English)

Centre for Bahá'í­ Studies: Acuto, Italy

July 5–9, 2017.

Analytical perspective of economic impact of unity, An

by Hooshmand Badee

Unity of humankind is Bahá'u'lláh's main mission. This analytical presentation focuses on economic consequences of unity. Economists are concerned about the opportunity cost of resources allocated to war, in both real and monetary values. As unity prevails, resources and in particular human resources become more useful, productive and creative, leading to an increase in human wellbeing. It will be established that unity along with components of spirituality are prerequisites for problem solving at all level of human society. We examine this from both Bahá'í­ and secular thinkers viewpoints. Alternative models and theories of unity and spirituality and their effectiveness in resolving conflicts will be examined. Universal acceptance of unity as a spiritual principle is essential to any successful attempt to establish human prosperity. It would therefore be suggested that there is a need for universal education and increasing awareness of the importance of unity. The Bahá'í­ writings provide a number of specific models that are effective for the creation of a relative unity in the Bahá'í­ community. However, establishing unity is not without challenges. Can we fix humanity's problems with the message of Bahá'u'lláh? Unity should be understood from social, political and economic perspectives, which could be threatened by unjust economic conditions such as poverty. It will be concluded that the Bahá'í­ community has invested in the process of establishing unity from its very inception with the result of increasing prosperity for the entire population. The experience of the Bahá'í­ community provides hopeful signs associated with the benefits of unity.

Ancient poems as a means of Revelation, in an early Tablet by Bahá'u'lláh

by Julio Savi and Faezeh Mardani

This paper offers a personal translation of a Persian Tablet revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in the 'Iraqí period. The Tablet is rich in quotations from ancient Iranian poets. Our paper examines the importance of poetry in the history of the Faith and in its Writings. It analyzes the quoted poems and the many poetical metaphors used in the Tablet. It ends with a short commentary on the contents of the Tablet: detachment is a fundamental prerequisite for attaining "unto the divine Presence."

Concept of Education in the Writings of Baha'u'llah, The

by Mozhgan Malekan

The term "education" in the writings of Baha'u'llah is based on a number of elements such as the nature and the ontological dimensions of human, and objectives and goals that are considered for education. There are different words that are used to describe "education" in the Baha'i writings— in general— and within the writings of Baha'u'llah— specifically. For example, tarbiah, ta'dib, and ta'lim, which stem from various root words, suggest distinct kinds of education and refer to different aspects of human beings. Since the Baha'i teachings emphasize and focus on education as a means for facilitating the process of creating humanity, the theoretical foundations and the practical principles of education are explained based on the aforementioned elements. This article is a brief description and explanation about the theoretical foundations and the practical principles of education as well as its objectives and goals in the writings of Baha'u'llah.

Days of Remembrance: Notes on Two Tablets

by Iscander Micael Tinto

The purpose of this article is to present a study of two tablets revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and collected, along with forty-three others, in Days of Remembrance, a beautiful book published by the Universal House of Justice to commemorate the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá'u'lláh.

In the introduction we read:

The observance of holy days occupies a central place in every religion. Through their commemoration, the calendar year becomes the stage on which the signal events associated with the life and ministry of the divine Manifestations of God are annually remembered and honoured. This remembrance has both a personal dimension, providing a time for reflection on the significance of these events, and a social dimension, helping to deepen the identity and foster the cohesion of the community ["¦] The present volume offers forty-five selections from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh revealed specifically for, or otherwise relating to, these nine Holy Days. The selections represent different revelatory modes, each reflecting facets of the greatness, the preciousness, and the peerless nature of this Day in which all the promises and prophecies of the past have been fulfilled "¦.
The two tablets are the Lawh-i-Náqús (Tablet of the Bell) and the Lawh-i-Ghulámu'l-Khuld (Tablet of the Deathless Youth). Both were revealed on the occasion of the birth of the Báb and are rich in important elements —such as metaphors, images and also repetitions of portions of other tablets—which make them very inspiring for the reader, especially at this historic moment, and offer new perspectives to our study of the Revelation. "ƒ

From the cave to the Khanqah: Baha'u'llah in Kurdistan, a reconsideration

by Ami Schrager

After spending a meaningful period in the caves of Sargalu mountains in Kurdistan, Bahāʾu'llāh decided to end his solitude and return to society. This crucial transition has few versions which describes how Bahāʾu'llāh transformed from an unknown Darwīsh to a famous Shaykh.

This presentation will re-examine the different versions of the account from its basic original tradition till the formal Bahāʾī version in "God Passes By". Hopefully, the examination of this important account will help us learn how a "story" turns into a "holy history".


Mathnaví by Rúḥu'lláh Varqá, the martyr: a few notes on its historical context and poetical content, The

by Faraneh Vargha-Khadem and Faezeh Mardani

A tentative translation of the Mathnaví by Rúḥu'lláh Varqá, the martyr, is presented. It is accompanied by a few historical remarks on the short life of this heroic child and a concise commentary of the content of his poem. After a few words on the mathnaví in Persian literature, the most important images presented in the poem are briefly explained: the motif of the cup-bearer and the cup, springtime motifs, love motifs. The poem is a hymn of love to the Blessed Beauty. However, in the final 10 verses after verse 31 the poet turns to 'Abdu'l-Bahá and it closes his eulogy with a quotation of a verse from one of the Master's poems (Ay Khudáy-i-Pur-'Aá¹­áy-i-Dhu'l-Manán), a rhetorical device called Taḍmín.

Power and the Baha'i community

by Moojan Momen

More than fifty years ago, Shoghi Effendi was writing that the thinking world has already caught up with the "great and universal principles enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh". He suggested that Baha'is needed to find ways of presenting to the world "the capacity of His projected World Order to re create society". This paper explores what exactly is meant by this latter phrase. It suggests that what could be meant is to examine the workings of the Baha'i community and to see in what way these present solutions to the problems facing society. This paper examines two inter-related problems: first the fact that a large proportion of people in our societies feel that they are excluded or that they are unable to participate fully in society because barriers exist that prevent this. They feel a lack of power to determine their own lives and an inability to develop fully. On account of this, they also feel a sense of injustice and consequent resentment. The second problem is that the balance between individual freedom and central authority in society has not been satisfactorily resolved, between individualism and collectivism. While authoritarian regimes have been overthrown and democracy established in many parts of the world, many are now saying that the balance has shifted too far towards individualism and a lack of central authority, that the rampant freedom of the market has led to a danger of falling into a situation of the "rule of the jungle", where the wealthiest and most powerful have free reign to do what they like. It is the contention of this paper that the workings of the Baha'i community present some possible solutions to these two problems.

Religious Clergy in the Baha'i Writings

by Vahid Rafati

From the beginning of the Bab's ministry in 1844 and up to the present, the Babi Movement and then the Baha'i Faith have faced the opposition of the Shi'i clergy. The bloodiest and most tragic events in Babi/Baha'i history have often been the result of the enmity held, and sentences issued, by the religious leadership of that branch of Islam. It should therefore be no surprise that the most important works of Baha'u'llah were revealed to the Shi'i clergy, and in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, for example, Baha'u'llah addresses a few religious authorities such as Shaykh Muhammad Hassan Najafi.

However, the Shi'i clergy are not the only group of religious leaders addressed by Baha'u'llah. Shaykhi figures such as Hajj Muhammad Karim Khan Kermani have been referred to in the Book of Certitude (Kitab-i-Iqan), and he was addressed both in the Kitab-i-Aqdas and the Lawh-i-Qina. Baha'u'llah further addressed the religious leadership of the Bayanis as well as Azali figures such as Mirza Hadi Dowlatabadi.

To prepare a comprehensive list of all those religious leaders who have been addressed in general Tablets of Baha'u'llah, or in particular works by Him, requires thorough research. Nonetheless it is worth noting that one of the most extensive works of Baha'u'llah, which by itself is a book, is his Tablet to Muhammad Taqiy-i-Najafi, known as the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. His father, Shaykh Muhammad Baqer Najafi, as well as Mir Muhammad Hussein (the Friday prayer leader of Isfahan,) Hajj Mulla Ali Kani, Sayyed Sadeq Sangelaki, and Hajj Mulla Hadi Sabzavari, are just some of the other key religious leaders whom Baha'u'llah has addressed.

It should also be noted that the addressees in the writings of the Baha'i Faith are not limited to the Shi'i nor the Muslim clergy more broadly; leaderships of all religions have been addressed whether by Baha'u'llah, Abdul-Baha, or in the works of the Guardian. Some have even been the recipients of specific Tablets, as is the case with Baha'u'llah's Tablet to Pope Pius IX, the Tablet of Aqdas, the Tablet of Hardegg, which were revealed to the Christian clergy. Zoroastrian religious leaders, such as Manikchi Sahib, have been addressed in several Tablets by Baha'u'llah and Abdul-Baha. Many passages in the Surih-ye-Muluk are revealed to the entire religious leadership.

It may also be added that Mohyeddin-e Qazi of Qaneqein, Abdurrahman Karkuri, from the Sufi orders, have been the recipients of the Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys.

Shaykh Hadi Najmabadi, one of the greatest mujtahids of the Qajar period, was the addressee of one of Abdul-Baha's works; he also wrote to figures within the Sunni religious leadership such as Shaykh Muhammad Abdu and Shaykh Muhammad Bakhit, the Grand Mufti of Egypt.

Finally, a work of Baha'u'llah that deserves our special attention and will be studied with particular emphasis is the Tablet of Burhan, revealed by Baha'u'llah to the greatest mujtahids of the Qajar period.


Situation of Iran in the 19th Century as Reflected in the Baha'i Writings, The

by Vahid Rafati

Taking into account the length of time and variety of events in 19th century Iran on the one hand, and on the other hand the vast amount of Baha'i writings which reflect the situation of Iran and Iranians, requires that we limit our study by focussing on the key events over this period.

Broadly speaking, the major issues in Iran during the 19th century that are reflected in the Baha'i writings can be said to cover four major areas.

  1. Issues related to government / politics / institutions / leadership
  2. Issues related to religion, religious life, and Shi'i Clergy
  3. Issues related to science, culture, education and journalism
  4. issues related to social life, economic, ethics, and social relations.

Writings of the Baha'i Faith regarding those issues are sometimes intended to be analytical in their nature. Sometimes they are reactions to, or evaluations of, the conditions and circumstances. The reflection of these issues in the Baha'i writings is at times to explain the difficulties and pains, to prescribe remedies, and to analyse the problems and the issues to show how to address them. One of the leading issues regarding Iran in the 19th century which is reflected in the Baha'i writings is the emphasis on corruption and backwardness in the country's political and social institutions. Tyranny, inequality of rights in society, power-seeking, the question of Marja-ye-Taqlid (Source of Emulation) in the religious life of the Shi'is, superstition, blindly following religious leadership, illiteracy, lack of science and technology and more than anything else the need for change and modernization in all four fields referred to above are major issues that have been dealt with in the Baha'i writings.

In studying the issues of 19th Century Iran, the necessity for the separation of politics from religion, access to education, the removal of prejudice in all forms, the conduct of Jihad by words and by statements rather than weapons or force, the necessity for relations across faiths, the promotion of industry and innovation, adopting the modern sciences of the West, the pursuit of justice, and the need for equality between men and women are among those major issues that have been repeatedly and emphatically reflected upon in the Baha'i Writings. There are even some special works and treatises written to deal with these many problems. The emphasis in the Baha'i writings for resolving these problems is people's universal participation, common consultation, and accepting the responsibility of individuals.


Station of Baha'u'llah elucidated in the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá

by Habib Riazati

The main objective of this presentation is to explore the systemic nature of the revelations of God and the cohesive relationships between the various components of the messages conveyed by the Manifestations of God. In another word, the purpose of this presentation is to show, by examples from the writings, that the proper understanding of Bahá'u'lláh's Writings is impossible without immersing in the interpretations and elucidations of Shoghi Effendi.

Women Advance: The Relationship between the Bahá'í­ Teachings and the Women's Movement

by Wendi Momen

This is a preliminary exploration of the relationship between the advancement of women and the Bahá'í­ teachings on the equality of women and men. It traces the emergence and development of the women's movement from its roots in the 18th century through the 19th and 20th centuries and into the 21st. It sets this phenomenon against the Bahá'í­ teachings as expressed in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, the interpretations and talks of `Abdu'l-Bahá, the works of Shoghi Effendi, the statements and letters of the Universal House of Justice and the statements of the Bahá'í­ International Community; and considers whether there is any causal relationship between the two.