Papers delivered at the ‘Irfán Colloquium Session #5 (English)

Bahá'í National Center: Wilmette, Illinois USA

March 31 – April 2, 1995.

Theme: "Kitab-i-Aqdas"


Choice Wine: The Kitab-i-Aqdas and the Development of Baha'i Law

by Anthony Lee

Near the beginning of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh issues this warning:
Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power. To this beareth witness that which the Pen of Revelation hath revealed Meditate upon this, 0 men of insight! (K5)
Yet, often the Aqdas has been regarded by Bahá'ís as precisely a fixed and static code of divine law, rather like an updated version of the Islamic sharí'ah. This paper will argue for a different interpretation.

It is suggested by internal evidence and the little that is known of the book's history that the Kitab-i-Aqdas consists of an initial Tablet of laws revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, which was supplemented with verses in answer to questions put to Bahá'u'lláh by the believers over a period of three or four years. The final verse of the book may have been added as late as 1882. After the text of the Most Holy Book was completed, Bahá'í law continued to be supplemented by the revelation of the Questions and Answers, by Tablets of law revealed after the Aqdas (some portions of which were explicitly made part of the book), by the interpretations of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi and by the legislation of the Universal House of justice. Throughout this period, the body of Bahá'í law has continued to grow and develop in an organic manner.

This paper will trace the early development (and astonishing transformation) or three basic Bahá'í laws: 1) the law of marriage which initially allowed a man to marry two wives, but through the interpretations of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi came to require monogamy, 2) the obligatory prayer which was changed from an initial prayer requiring nine prostrations to a choice of three prayers of different lengths: and, 3) the law of inheritance which seems to have moved from a modified Muslim system of fixed categories of inheritance to a system of individual bequest through a personal will The paper will argue that it is a mistake to regard the Kitáb-i-Aqdas as the revelation of a new sharí'ah, a fixed and static system of divine law. Rather, the laws of the Aqdas provide a flexible foundation for a New World Order.
Click here to read this paper online.

Considerations Relating to the Inheritance Laws of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Some

by Sen McGlinn

This presentation will suggest some considerations which might be borne in mind when interpreting the inheritance laws. There has been much discussion about the equity, or lack of equity, concerning the way in which male and female heirs are treated in the Kitab-i-Aqdas: Linda and John Walbridge, for instance, inferred some sociological features of a Bahá'í society from its supposed inequalities.1 But reading the text itself I am not at all sure that we find the inequalities there.

The inheritance laws of the Aqdas are written with the assumption that the deceased is a man. Thus Bahá'u'lláh explicitly says that the residence and personal clothing of the deceased go to the male, not female, offspring [K25]. 'Abdu'l-Bahá interpreted this as meaning that the residence and personal clothing of a deceased man remain in the male line [n44]. Shoghi Effendi says in the Synopsis [p. 155] that the residence and clothing of the deceased father pass to the male, not to the female, offspring.

A lot of analysis has been made about the effects this law would have were it applied in a Bahá'í society, but the assumption appears to be that the pattern of property ownership in a Bahá'í society would be similar to that in Middle Eastern societies--in which the man or father is generally the absolute legal owner of the family home, if indeed it is owned. Why this pattern should be projected onto a Bahá'í society escapes me. Even Islamic law had formally permitted women to retain their earnings as their own property: "to men is allotted what they earn, and to women what they earn" [4:32]. In a society in which both boys and girls are educated in a trade or profession, and everyone is expected to work, it does not seem plausible that men would retain their present overwhelming preponderance of property ownership. Thus even if the civil law does not specify the joint ownership of marital property, one would expect that it would frequently happen that the wife would own a share of, or even all of, the family home.

The question then arises: what happens when the deceased is a woman and owns a share of the family property? According to the notes to the Aqdas, though the law is formulated with the presumption that the deceased is a man, its provisions apply, mutatis mutandis [n38], when the deceased is a women. The mutatis mutandis principle ("changing what has to be changed") indicates a direction for interpretations but is hardly explicit: what has to be changed, and how?

There is one explicit statement from Bahá'u'lláh [Q 37] that (despite the apparently clear text of the Aqdas [K25]), "the personal clothing of the mother should be divided in equal shares among the daughters." This is in contrast to the clothing of a man, which goes to the eldest son if he is still alive, and if not, goes not to the children of the eldest son but rather to the second son, and so forth [n44]. This seems clear enough. In the Questions and Answers, Bahá'u'lláh adds "the used clothing of the mother should be divided in equal shares among the daughters, but the remainder of her estate, including property, jewelry, and unused clothing, is to be distributed, in the manner revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, to all her heirs. If however, the deceased hath left no daughters, her estate in its entirety must be divided in the manner designated for men in the holy Text. " [Q 37]

The "remaining property" can comprise all or part of the family home, and other property. To consider the family home first, what is "the manner revealed in the Aqdas" when the deceased is a woman? When the deceased is a man, the principle is that the principal residence passes to the eldest son. So when the deceased is a women, would the residence pass to the eldest daughter, or, following the example of the personal clothes, would it be equally divided amongst the daughters? If she should have no daughters at all, at least, it would clearly go to the sons [Q 37] and be distributed in the manner designated for men in the Holy Text - thus to the eldest son if he is still alive, then the second son [n44].

Perhaps there is no pressing need to take a position on this question. It is at any rate clear that Bahá'u'lláh has provided for a completely different kind of inheritance pattern than that which prevails in the East, or for that matter in the West. In a Western society at present, if one partner dies, the other generally becomes the sole owner of at least the personal residence, so that the children inherit it only when both parents have died. Under Bahá'u'lláh's inheritance pattern, if one partner dies--assuming joint ownership of the family home--The remaining partner becomes in effect a partner with the children, since the eldest son, or the daughters (collectively or eldest), inherit the portion of the home which was owned by the deceased partner. This makes the children a full part of the family, rather than the family having a core (man and woman) and a periphery (children). And such a pattern is appropriate to a society in which women are expected to learn and practice a trade or profession. Rather than assuming that a widow is helpless and needs a son to take care of her, as I read the law it is assuming that she is able to take care of herself.

The significance of this may be primarily symbolic rather than economic. The family home is a symbol of the unity and continuity of the family, and this provision that the children inherit at the death of either parent means that the family home is not left half-tenanted, as it were: when a man dies the eldest son in some respects takes his place, and the male and female principles continue as joint guardians of the family hearth. When a woman dies, her daughter(s) take her place. Thus rather than indicating distinct roles for men and women, the inheritance law could be interpreted as emphasizing the need for the union and harmony of these two fundamental forces.

The Walbridges argued that the Bahá'í laws of inheritance favor men over women in order to establish family responsibility as a male obligation, and so ordain a "mildly patrilinear family." Supposing one accepts the link between inheritance (specifically, inheritance of the family home and personal clothing) and how descent and identity is traced, this pattern of inheritance would actually point towards a bilinear society, consisting of two "tribes"--male and female. Inheritance and lineality are broadly dispersed every time the torch is passed from one generation to the next, but a certain primacy and privilege as regards the most symbolic possessions is reserved for the sons of a man and the daughters of a woman. Thus the Qur'ánic principle "to men is allotted what they earn, and to women what they earn" [Qur'án 4:32] is extended from generation to generation.

1. Linda. and John Walbridge, Baháíí Laws on the Status of Men," World Order 19:1 (Fall 1984/Winter 1984-85) 25-36.
Click here to read this paper online.

Eschatology and Messianic Hope in Hinduism: A Bahá'í Perspective

by Ali K. Merchant

What is known as Hinduism has no single founder. It has evolved over a period of ten thousand years or more, absorbing and assimilating elements of many of the religions and cultural movements of India and neighboring countries. All the key sacred texts of Hinduism are written and recorded in Sanskrit, the oldest extant language in the world. The main scriptures of Hinduism are the Vedas, the Upanishads (Vedanta) and the Bhagavad-Gita. They are called shrutis, the eternal truth. Next comes the Code of Laws, smritis. The main scriptures of Hinduism include four more texts that may be listed as histories: Itihasa, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Puranas.

The identity of the revealer of the Bhagavad-Gita is attributed to Lord Krishna. The Vedas (derived of the root "vid" meaning "to know") are a compilation of spiritual laws revealed at different periods. It includes four works. The Bhagavad-Gita is sometimes regarded as the fifth Veda. However, a statement attributed to the Lord Krishna claims he was the revealer of all the Vedas. In the Bahá'í Faith Lord Krishna is regarded as the central figure of the Hindu religion. 'Abdu'l-Bahá calls Krishna "the cause of illumination of the world of humanity" and confirms that he was "sent of God" (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 348).

The purpose of this paper is to explore the scriptures of Hinduism in the light of the teachings of the Bahá'! Faith. The roots of some of the main tenets of the Bahá'í Faith are investigated in the words attributed to Krishna and other parts of Hindu scriptures. Some of the ancient texts such the Book of Juk referred to by Bahá'u'lláh are identified and briefly introduced. Examples of the prophesies in Hindu sacred texts on the advent of the mission of Bahá'u'lláh are presented and explained. In short an attempt is made to present the organic and evolutionary relations between the Hindu religion and the Bahá'í Faith.

Getting to Justice: The Creation of Justice through the Laws of the Kitab-i-Aqdas

by Holly Hanson

Ms. Hanson gave as one example the impact the inheritance laws could have on the distribution of wealth in society.

Institute for Baha'i Studies

by Robert Stockman

Presentation of the Institute for Baha'i Studies and its activities. The Institute is an agency of the National Spiritual Assembly dedicated to sponsoring rigorous, academic-quality scholarship on the Baha'i Faith.

Kitab-i-Aqdas, The: Questions of Structure and Style

by Diana Malouf

Although the Kitáb-i-Aqdas has several common features which can compare with the Quríán particularly. it differs in several fundamental structural and stylistic elements from it. The Koran is comprised of, among other things, sermons, narratives, historical interpretations, and prophecies that have no counterpart in the Aqdas. Elements of style can also become elements of structure, but the Aqdas and Quríán do not always use the same elements, or in the same way. For example, both the Quríán and the Kitáb-i-Aqdas use rhetorical devices for emphasis, such as parallelism, repetition, and irregular syntax; however, only the Quríán uses metaphors and similes of punishment, such as images of fire, thirst, and heat, and images of reward, such as water, gardens, and fruit. These stylistic and imagistic devises reinforce the message and also act as a unifying force holding the works tightly together.

Structurally, the Quríán is composed of suras, or chapters, arranged by length after Muhammad's death, which are composed of verses. The Aqdas is comprised of verses only, without division into chapters. The Quríán is also longer than the Aqdas; however, there are supplementary texts to the Aqdas but no such texts supplementary to the Quríán. The Qur'án is the one work Muhammad authored, whereas Bahá'u'lláhís corpus of texts numbers more than 15 1 000 works. Furthermore, the Aqdas must be viewed as the crowning gem of a larger corpus of works and it, as well, derives its unity not in isolation, but as part -of a larger unified body of work exhibiting certain similar features.

Initially, though to Western eyes the Kitáb-I-Aqdas seems to have no strict linear rationality, there are many internal features that unify the text, such as its emotional tone, which in the Islamic literary system is the life of a text and without which it cannot persuade effectively. Other unftg features are the voice of the Speaker (God to humanity), the musicality of the text (rhythm, rhyme, assonance, alliteration), the beauty of the language, the diverse subject matter (the unexpectedness of the topic of a verse itself becomes a repetitive and unifying stylistic feature), the alteration of exalted universal spiritual verities and praises followed by earthly and particular laws (a constant repeating pattern that also unifies the text). The beginning and end of the Book, also are in balance. The exception is verses 187-190.

Like the Quríán, the Aqdas is the germ of a civilization, in its case a world civilization, and as the Quríán produced a literary system, the Aqdas, too, shall engender a literary system of its own. which, no doubt, shall illustrate over time the dynamic principles observable in other literary systems around the world.

Memorial Funds and Fostering Baha'i Scholarship

by Iraj Ayman


Model of Penology in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, The

by John Hatcher

One of the most surprising features of the long-awaited translation into English of The Kitáb-i-Aqdas is that the work is precisely as Bahá'u'lláh Himself had noted, not a "mere code of laws" (21). As Martha L Schweitz has pointed out, the work is from the standpoint of legal documents more like a constitution than a code. From my own perspective as a Professor of literature, the work seems more a moral treatise or a poem than a legal document, like a tapestry into which Bahá'u'lláh has envisioned the outline of a global civilization. The laws themselves seem to be scattered almost randomly like jewels throughout the fabric of this vision and focus primarily on matters of personal morality, decorum. and refinement.

But even when these laws do appear, they seem to be more like paradigms of response than codification of conduct. Time and time again, the lawgiver commands that we achieve some set level of response, only to follow His command with alternatives. Marriage is conditioned on the payment of dowry of nineteen mitháls of gold. However, villagers can pay the same amount in silver. However, if the husband cannot afford to pay his bride this, "a promissory note to his bride at the time of the wedding ceremony" is sufficient. The similar sort of latitude applies to the period of time a wife must wait after the absence of her husband before she takes another husband. Should her husband not return by the promised time, "it behoveth her to wait for a period of nine months, after which there is no impediment to her taking another husband; but should she wait longer, God, verily, loveth those women and men who show forth patience" (43).

In effect, the specific laws and ordinances often establish an optimum response, but then provide a variety of other possible valid responses to account for the various human conditions and capacities. Nevertheless, Bahá'u'lláh cautions, "Beware lest, through compassion, ye neglect to carry out the statutes of the religion of God. . . ." (36) Is this apparent distinction the difference between the advice given an institution and the advice given individuals wherein the individuals are to be forgiving while the institutions are to administer justice?

When we examine the handful of specific punishments Bahá'u'lláh ordains for particular violations of law, they hardly seem lax or generous. Yet even these provide various levels of response. A study of the principle underlying the response to violation of law as it is portrayed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas reveals, I think, several abiding principles that ensure the success of this society. Among these is the constant awareness that the life of the individual and of society is a continuum; even capital punishment is not viewed as the termination of a human life, but as an educational tool to assist that recalcitrant soul. Another principle of response to the violation of law is collective pressure, the same force exerted so effectively in tribal communities wherein reputation and social approval are, when employed benignly, the most might force for ensuring human advancement. Allied to this principle is the concept that the right of the collective body always supersedes individual rights, though, properly understood and administered, the health of both are always in concert. The purpose of this paper is to examine some of these principles of law enforcement and penology as they relate to particular examples.

Obedience to Divine Law: Evolution of the Individual's Perception

by Azadeh Fares and Nabil Fares

Religion is the outer expression of divine reality and is progressive. The divine utterance is revealed to humankind by each Manifestation according to humanity's capacity at the time. In Islam Muhammad said "Say. If ye love God, then follow me: God will love you, and forgive your sins, for God is Forgiving, Merciful" (al-Imran, verse 29). Bahá'u'lláh has disclosed that the reason humanity was created was love: "I knew My love for thee, therefore I created thee" (Arabic Hidden Words, no. 3). 'Abdu'l-Bahá has explained this love as the first kind of love, which flows from God to humans. As human beings soar toward a higher level of spiritual maturity, Bahá'u'lláh's statement "observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty" (Aqdas, p. 20) becomes ever clearer.

'Abdu'l-Bahá explains that the love of His beauty is the second kind of love. which flows from humans to God. He notes that it involves such characteristics as: faith; attraction to the Divine; enkindlement; progress; entrance into the Kingdom of God; receiving the bounties of God; and illumination by the lights of the Kingdom (Paris Talks, p. 180).

The concept of obedience purely for the sake of God is unique in the Bahá'! Faith. It requires an evolutionary change in one's understanding and perception, because the reasons for obeying the divine laws and ordinances are no longer fear of hell. and hope for heaven, as they are described in the Quríán. In Islam the concept of obedience as revealed by Muhammad includes a fear of bell. for wrong doings and disobedience, and an ambition for a certain place called heaven in exchange for good deeds and obedience. This is shown in al-Eaqarah 22-23, "then fear the fire prepared for the infidels, whose fuel is men and stones."

The contrast this paper is depicting between the revelation of Muhammad and that of Bahá'u'lláh is not intended to position one revelation as superior to the other. The contrast is an indication of the maturity of human beings and their capacity to grasp the meaning of their own inner reality. Bahá'u'lláh through His munificent writings has offered human beings the tools to make an inner and evolutionary change toward obedience to divine laws. Through His early writings Bahá'u'lláh gradually planted the seeds of obedience and allowed them to grow steadily through the prodigious flow of His writings over a period of forty years.

The Blessings of Obedience. It is through obedience to divine laws and ordinances that one can raise an infrastructure that can shelter one's spiritual life. Bahá'u'lláh identifies obedience as the highest means for the maintenance of world order; He notes that it provides security to the people; and that it is the means for attaining perfect liberty. The presentation will focus on obligatory prayer [salát] as a means for defining the individual's relation to his Creator in Islam and the Bahá'í Faith.

Some modem intellectuals consider the word "obedience" to be a synonym for passive submission, blind acceptance, and religious fanaticism We will cover some of the reasons for this stated in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh: petty-mindedness; arrogance and pride; remoteness from God; idle fancies; failure to sanctify their eyes, ears, and hearts from the standards of humankind; turning to the exponents of rebellion and error; and depending solely on one's own intellect, comprehension, and learning.

In conclusion, we shall, recapture the responsibility and capacity of humanity to respond to divine love by obedience to God's laws and ordinances, as stated as one of the twin duties mentioned in the first paragraph of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.

Panel Discussion: Kitab-i-Aqdas: Current Research and Future Directions

by Jena Khadem Khodadad and Moojan Momen, and Mr. Charles Nolley

The Saturday evening session was devoted to a panel discussion on "The Kitab-i-Aqdas: Current Research and Future Directions." The session began with introductory remarks by the three panelists: Dr. Jena Khadem, Dr. Moojan Momen, and Mr. Charles Nolley. A diversity of perspectives was expressed by the panelists as well as the participants, showing a wide range of views and approaches. The two interesting recommendations made in this session were: (1) the value and advantage of promoting team research, that is, a group of Baha'is collaborating together in producing joint papers; and (2) identifying and recommending a number of topics to be researched as chapters of one volume, thus producing some of the literature badly needed in the Baha'i community.

Redefining a Social Contract

by Rama Ayman

Why do we work? Why do we have an obligation to work? And why do we feel we have to work well? Such questions have intrigued the minds of individuals as diverse as the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and the avaricious French aristocrats of the fifteenth century. Indeed, understanding the reasons to work beyond acquiring the necessities and luxuries of life has perplexed the human soul since the first glimmers of the work place arose on the horizon of an ever-advancing civilization.

In modem secular society, especially in the Western world, several conceptual constructs have provided frameworks for rationalizing a work ethic that obligates the individual to excel in his/her occupation both in quality and in quantity. Such a rationalization has provided the warp and woof for the drive to enhance productivity and performance. Three of the most popular conceptual frameworks define work as a means of sustenance; a vehicle for economic transactions; a moral imperative. Each framework ultimately defines work as a social contract which binds the individual to society. Namely, the individual works, and in return he/she receives his/her sustenance, material rewards, or moral rewards.

The Bahá'í Faith has revolutionized modem work ethics by making a paradigm shift from the previous frameworks that define work as a means to obtain a reward. This paradigm shift, in effect, formulates an opposition. to the current underpinning of the concept of work a social contract. The Faith opposes the view that work is simply a means to obtain a reward, whether material or spiritual. Instead, it defines work as a spiritual obligation-an engagement exalted to worship of God (Kitáb-i-Aqdas #33). In the Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh obligates the individual to engage in some occupation (#33), and for the first time in religious history, He forbids both idleness and sloth and the act of begging (#147). Bahá'u'lláh further states that the implementation of this new theological imperative is the mutual responsibility of society and the individual.

Clearly the manifestation of this new paradigm in society will have a profound impact on how individuals view work. No longer defining work as merely an economic or an ethical task, humanity will view work as a spiritual act--a means of one's spiritual growth. Thus, the paradigm will change society's perspective of how it defines itself and how it functions on a day to day basis.

This presentation will be three-fold: It will elaborate on the paradigm shift introduced by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas regarding the concept of work; it will contrast His definition to those current in society, and it will discuss the resulting implications of this paradigm shift on the workings of current society.

Relationship between Content and Context in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, The

by Habib Riazati

Universality of the laws of the Aqdas in spite of the varying contexts in which they are expressed. Also, the matter of the infallibility of the Manifestations and the historical circumstances of the revelation of specific universal laws.

Outline of Talk
1. The Universality of all the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas
	A. The contents ("message") is universal while the context in which the message is set
	might not and need not be universal.
	B. Contexts are variable while content could be constant.

2. The universal aspect of the content is an aspect of infallibility
	A. Ethics
	B. Cultural diversity and various ethical systems
	C. The possible features of a universal code of law in the world of humanity
		i. Kant's empirical theory
		ii. Hegel's dialectical approach
		iii. The role of science in the infallibility of a given law
			a. Is there such a thing as "infallibility" for a human thinker?
			b. Philosophers, scientists, and Manifestations
				1. Space and time
				2. Limits in4x)sed on them
				3. Infallibility factor in them
			c. Relative infallibility, which is a function of time and the situation, is a
			fact of life.
			d. Infallibility in religion
				1. What does it mean?
				2. What are the ranges of infallibility?
				3. What are the positive impacts of believing in infallibility? 
	D. The direct relationship between the infallibility of a Manifestation and the universality of a given law.

3. Some examples of relationship between content and context 
	A. The public baths in Persia (context) and using clean water (content) 
	B. Dowry, which exists in almost all cultures 
		i. Iran 
		ii. India 
		iii. Western countries

4. Conclusions
	A. Relationship between context and culture
	B. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas is a charter that creates diversity of contexts while preserving
	universality of contents

Relationship of the Laws of the Kitab-i-Aqdas to the Laws of the Bayan of the Bab

by Jeff Simmonds

This paper discusses the relationship of the legislation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas to that of the Persian Bayán. My thesis is that Bahá'u'lláh was not an innovative legislator, but derived His laws from the laws of the Báb. Furthermore, all of the laws of the Bayán were codified in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, both positive and negative commands, and abrogations of the laws of previous dispensations. The only exceptions were laws that the Báb Himself declared were only temporary, put in place to prepare the way for the coming of Him Whom God Will Make Manifest, that is, Bahá'u'lláh. The laws of the Bayán that were temporary in nature, such as the prohibition on studying dead languages or grammar, were abrogated not by Bahá'u'lláh, but by His declaration that He was He Whom God Will Make Manifest, at which time such laws became redundant. The only other laws that were not carried over from the Bábí to the Bahá'í dispensation were those that gave Him Whom God Will Make Manifest special respect, such as the law that everyone should rise when the name of Him. Whom God Will Make Manifest was mentioned. Such laws were abrogated by Bahá'u'lláh, as a sign of grace and mercy, and not because the laws of the Bayán were strange, unworkable or excessive.

I conclude that a study and knowledge of the Bayán is essential in order to understand Bahá'u'lláh's Most Holy Book, and that there is a strong degree of continuity between it and the Bayán from which it is clearly derived.

Sacralizing the Secular: The Proclamatory Aqdas as a Response to Modernity

by Christopher Buck

The preeminent Bahá'í scripture "The Most Holy Book" exhibits a certain textual and ideological extensibility through the phenomenon of "re-revelation"-a term coined by Taherzadeh (Revelation 4:372). This study will examine the Tablet of Glad-Tidings (Lawh-i-Bishárát) as an extension of the Most Holy Book for purposes of proclamation. A source-critical study of the Glad-Tidings discloses that most of the fifteen Glad-Tidings (there are actually twenty-one stated principles) are located in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and the rest in supplements to the Aqdas. The Glad-Tidings functioned in a way analogous to a press release. Internal evidence for the proclamatory intent of the Glad-Tidings is found in Bahá'u'lláh's address: "0 people of the earth!" (TB 21). Circumstantial evidence is also found in Bahá'u'lláh's dispatch of this Tablet to two leading scholars: Cambridge Orientalist Edward Granville Browne (1891) and to Russian Orientalist Baron Victor Rosen (1892).

Twin processes are operative in the Tablet of Glad-Tidings: (1) Religious Reform--the desacralizing (abrogation and prohibition) of certain Christian, Islamic, and Bábí practices: and (2) Sacralization--the rendering sacred certain secular values (assimilation of "civic virtues") as part of the Bahá'í response to modernity. At the end of the Lawh-i-Bishárát, Bahá'u'lláh actually characterizes the Glad-Tidings as divine legislation ("laws and ordinances"). Through the agency of the "proclamatory Aqdas," Bahá'u'lláh set in motion a sacralization process through spiritualization of "civil religion" at its finest, refinement and systemization of emergent "global values" and the sacralizing of secular power in the interests of world reform. Of the Bahá'í Faith, Ninian Smart wrote: "It is an example of a spiritual revolution which intuitively recognized the global state of world culture before its time and gave religious preparation for this unified world" (The World's Religions, p. 480).

The Lawh-i-Bishárát will thus be examined in three dimensions: (1) its function as a "Proclamatory Aqdas";(2) its Aqdas and Aqdas-related contents in the context of "re-revelation"; (3) the text as a response to modernity.

See a continuation of this discussion in the author's later articles Tablet of Glad-Tidings as a "Proclamatory Aqdas" and Bahá'u'lláh's Bishárát (Glad-Tidings): A Proclamation to Scholars and Statesmen.


Translation of some of `Abdu'l-Baha's tablets in honor of Haj Mehdi Arjmand

by Tandis Arjmand

A short presentation by Ms. Tandis Arjmand, great-granddaughter of Haj Mehdi Arjmand, who was a prominent Baha'i teacher and scholar in Iran. Ms. Arjmand quoted in English translation some of `Abdu'l-Baha's tablets in honor and admiration of the achievements of this great teacher of the Faith.