Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Paragraph 93

This is one of the instances that have been referred to. Verily by “perverting” the text is not meant that which these foolish and abject souls have fancied, even as some maintain that Jewish and Christian divines have effaced from the Book such verses as extol and magnify the countenance of Muḥammad, and instead thereof have inserted the contrary. How utterly vain and false are these words! Can a man who believeth in a book, and deemeth it to be inspired by God, mutilate it? Moreover, the Pentateuch had been spread over the surface of the earth, and was not confined to Mecca and Medina, so that they could privily corrupt and pervert its text. Nay, rather, by corruption of the text is meant that in which all Muslim divines are engaged today, that is the interpretation of God’s holy Book in accordance with their idle imaginings and vain desires. And as the Jews, in the time of Muḥammad, interpreted those verses of the Pentateuch, that referred to His Manifestation, after their own fancy, and refused to be satisfied with His holy utterance, the charge of “perverting” the text was therefore pronounced against them. Likewise, it is clear, how in this day, the people of the Qur’án have perverted the text of God’s holy Book, concerning the signs of the expected Manifestation, and interpreted it according to their inclination and desires.

Here is the eighth paragraph, of thirteen, concerning the words, "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet."

This is another one of those paragraphs that is actually very straightforward in its argument, clearly re-stating an issue, outlining the problem, and identifying a simple explanation. We don't need to re-state what He has already said.

As usual, what we prefer to do is look at the implications on our own teaching work. After all, if we want to use this book to help us become effective teachers, then we really need to look at not only the methods and arguments that Baha'u'llah uses, but how they impact us, too.

For us, in the Baha'i Faith, we individuals are like the Muslim divines, in a sense. As there are no clergy in the Baha'i community, we are called upon to teach others, like the divines of old. So, for us, this paragraph is a clarion call, a reminder. We need to be very aware of our own inclinations and desires, and strive for that detachment which is the hallmark of part one of this book, ensuring that we are able to pass on the teachings as best as we are able.

We don't need to worry about altering the Text, as the original manuscripts and documents are all on file at the World Centre for all to see. This isn't our concern. Nor was it actually a concern for the people in the pat, as Baha'u'llah points out. The real "corruption" is in the interpretation. And this is where we need to continually rely on the guidance of the Master, the Guardian and even the direction set for us by the Universal House of Justice.

As far as a "idle imaginings and vain desires", we can do no better than to turn our attention to Mason Remey, and his tragic fall and collapse.

As you know, he was one of those few souls appointed to the station of Hand of the Cause by the Guardian, before his passing. Upon discovering that there was no will, and nobody appointed as his, the Guardian's, successor, in his grief he decided that he should be the next Guardian. This was pure folly, of course, but he looked at some various statements about the successorship and applied his own fancy to them. He decided that since 'Abdu'l-Baha had referred to him as His own "dear son", that this must make him an Aghsan, one of the lineal descendants of Baha'u'llah, and thus eligible. He also decided that the Guardian's appointment of him, Remey, as President of the International Baha'i Council, which was the precursor to the Universal House of Justice, must have been the Guardian giving him the blessing of successorship. Again, ridiculous, but that is the problem with the ego: it loves to play these sorts of disastrous tricks on us. Either way, it still didn't fly, because according to the Will and Testament of the Master, he still would have needed the approval of the Hands of the Cause, which he didn't have.

It may not be the strongest of examples, but it sure shows us the importance of trying to take things in context, and being aware of our own "inclination and desire".

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