Wednesday, February 3, 2010
This is one more attempt to introduce to the West, in language however inadequate, this book of unsurpassed pre-eminence among the writings of the Author of the Bahá'í Revelation. The hope is that it may assist others in their efforts to approach what must always be regarded as the unattainable goal -- a befitting rendering of Bahá'u'lláh's matchless utterance.
We wondered about this paragraph by the Guardian and decided to look at it while studying the Text. Why was it there? Was there something "hidden" within it that the Guardian wished to draw to our attention?
First, it seems that he is reminding us of the numerous other translations that were out there at the time, translations that are now only of interest to scholars or book collectors. These translations, while invaluable at the time, generally fell short, as is obvious when reading them in light of the Guardian's translation. Yet even here, he is reminding us that his own translation is "inadequate". This is but one of many examples of his utter humility in the face of his work.
Secondly, there is the phrase "unsurpassed pre-eminence". What does this mean? It means that nothing is more notable. He does not say it is the most holy, or the most exciting, or the most humourous, but rather that it is the most notable. Nothing exceeds it in that field, although he does not say that nothing else may equal it. In case you are wondering, as we did, about the status of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, in light of such a powerful statement, we figure that it is "the most holy", for that is its name. This is not the same as "the most eminent", and it seems to hold a very different place within the Writings of the Faith, a place that is extremely high, possibly equal to that of the Kitab-i-Iqan. In fact, we think we're looking at linear terms to describe the station of the Iqan. The Aqdas is in it's own category: the blueprint for a new world order. The Iqan is more like a "how-to" book for recognizing a Messenger of God.
We don't want to go off on a tangent or get ahead of ourselves, but we thought it would be appropriate to mention the opening statement in the Kitab-i-Aqdas: "The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws."
The Kitab-i-Aqdas is the Mother Book of Baha'u'llah's Revelation. A Book which sets forth the Laws of God for this Dispensation. It is a charter for a divine and future civilization. It's purpose is, as Baha'u'llah tells us, "to build anew the whole world". We want to recognize the Messenger of God when he appears to mankind so that we can partake of His Grace, His Mercy, and the laws He reveals for all humanity. By studying the Kitab-i-Iqan we will be strictly concentrating on, "the recognition of Him who is the Dayspring of His Revelation", and how we accomplish this. It is the "first duty prescribed by God" for us. If we want to recognize "the Fountain of His laws", and obey those laws, then we study the Kitab-i-Aqdas.
This Holy Book, the Kitab-i-Iqan, as we see it, is like a prescription for the recognition of a Manifestation of God. As mentioned earlier, it's kind of like, and we say this without meaning to be irreverent, a "How-to Book". This is a Holy Book specifcally designed to assist us in the recognition of the Messengers of God, all of Them. It gives us all the clues, all the details, unravels the mysteries of the Revelations of God, exercises the soul, and attracts the heart of man to his Beloved. It is also an introduction to the truth that Divine Revelation is progressive, not final, and this Book recalls the past errors and victories. It makes us consider, ponder and reflect humanity's religious history.
The Iqan assists us that, haply, or per chance, we may begin to recognize and understand that Spirit that descends in every age to bring divine guidance to the world.