Archive for the ‘Scholarship’ Tag

30 June ― 7 Raḥmat   Leave a comment

The sundering of science and religion is but one example of the tendency of the human mind (which is necessarily limited in its capacity) to concentrate on one virtue, one aspect of truth, one goal, to the exclusion of others. This leads, in extreme cases, to fanaticism and the utter distortion of truth, and in all cases to some degree of imbalance and inaccuracy. A scholar who is imbued with an understanding of the broad teachings of the Faith will always remember that being a scholar does not exempt him from the primal duties and purposes for which all human beings are created. All men, not scholars alone, are exhorted to seek out and uphold the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. But they are also exhorted to be wise in their utterance, to be tolerant of the views of others, to be courteous in their behaviour and speech, not to sow the seeds of doubt in faithful hearts, to look at the good rather than at the bad, to avoid conflict and contention, to be reverent, to be faithful to the Covenant of God, to promote His Faith and safeguard its honour, and to educate their fellowmen, giving milk to babes and meat to those who are stronger.

Scholarship has a high station in the Bahá’í teachings, and Bahá’í scholars have a great responsibility. We believe that they would do well to concentrate upon the ascertainment of truth — of a fuller understanding of the subject of their scholarship, whatever its field — not upon exposing and attacking the errors of others, whether they be of non-Bahá’í or of their fellow believers. Inevitably the demonstration of truth exposes the falsity of error, but the emphasis and motive are important.

 

The Universal House of Justice

The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, pp: 390-391


IMG_1484MORNING:

Again, consider the Mosque of Aqṣá and the other places which We have made sanctuaries unto the people in every land and region. The honour and distinction they enjoy is in no wise due to their own merit, but stemmeth from their relation to Our Manifestations, Whom We have appointed as the Daysprings of Our Revelation amidst mankind, if ye be of them that understand. In this there lieth a wisdom inscrutable to all save God. Inquire, that He may graciously make plain unto you His purpose. His knowledge, verily, embraceth all things. Detach yourselves, O people, from the world and all its vanities, and heed not the call of such as have disbelieved in God and joined partners with Him. Arise above the horizon of utterance to extol and praise your Lord, the All-Merciful. This is that which God hath purposed for you; well is it with them who perceive it.

—His Holiness Baháú’lláh

Súriy-i-Haykal

The Tablet of the Temple, ¶ 91

The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 49

IMG_4252EVENING:

Say: O people! We have commanded you in Our Tablets to strive, at the time of the promised Revelation, to sanctify your souls from all names, and to purify them from all that hath been created in the heavens or on the earth, that therein may appear the splendours of the Sun of Truth which shineth forth above the horizon of the Will of your Lord, the Almighty, the Most Great. We have, moreover, commanded you to cleanse your hearts from every trace of the love or hate of the peoples of the world, lest aught should divert you from one course or impel you towards another. This, verily, is among the weightiest counsels I have vouchsafed unto you in the perspicuous Book, for whoso attacheth himself to either of these shall be prevented from attaining a proper understanding of Our Cause. To this beareth witness every just and discerning soul.

—His Holiness Baháú’lláh

Súriy-i-Haykal

The Tablet of the Temple, ¶ 92

The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, pp: 49-50

FROM THE CENTRE OF THE COVENANT  ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ:

In the teaching of Bahá’u’lláh, it is written: ‘By the Power of the Holy Spirit alone is man able to progress, for the power of man is limited and the Divine Power is boundless.’ The reading of history brings us to the conclusion that all truly great men, the benefactors of the human race, those who have moved men to love the right and hate the wrong and who have caused real progress, all these have been inspired by the force of the Holy Spirit.

The Prophets of God have not all graduated in the schools of learned philosophy; indeed they were often men of humble birth, to all appearance ignorant, unknown men of no importance in the eyes of the world; sometimes even lacking the knowledge of reading and writing.

That which raised these great ones above men, and by which they were able to become Teachers of the truth, was the power of the Holy Spirit. Their influence on humanity, by virtue of this mighty inspiration, was great and penetrating.

The influence of the wisest philosophers, without this Spirit Divine, has been comparatively unimportant, however extensive their learning and deep their scholarship.

The unusual intellects, for instance, of Plato, Aristotle, Pliny and Socrates, have not influenced men so greatly that they have been anxious to sacrifice their lives for their teachings; whilst some of those simple men so moved humanity that thousands of men have become willing martyrs to uphold their words; for these words were inspired by the Divine Spirit of God! The prophets of Judah and Israel, Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel, were humble men, as were also the apostles of Jesus Christ.

Paris Talks, pp: 163-164

9 October ― 13 Mashíyyat   Leave a comment

MORNING:

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Knowledge is one of the wondrous gifts of God. It is incumbent upon everyone to acquire it. Such arts and material means as are now manifest have been achieved by virtue of His knowledge and wisdom which have been revealed in Epistles and Tablets through His Most Exalted Pen—a Pen out of whose treasury pearls of wisdom and utterance and the arts and crafts of the world are brought to light.

—His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh

Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1988), p. 39

EVENING:

IMG_2200Knowledge is as wings to man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words. Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the peoples of the world…. In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him. Thus hath the Tongue of Grandeur spoken in this Most Great Prison.

—His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh

Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1988), pp: 51-52

FROM THE EXEMPLAR OF THE FAITH  ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ:

Make every effort to acquire the advanced knowledge of the day, and strain every nerve to carry forward the divine civilization….

IMG_5124Included must be promotion of the arts, the discovery of new wonders, the expansion of trade, and the development of industry. The methods of civilization and the beautification of the country must also be encouraged; and also to be inculcated is absolute obedience to the Government and total avoidance of any trace of sedition.

(From a Tablet, translated from the Persian)

A Compilation on Scholarship, Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, Bahá’í World Centre, February 1995, p. 1

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FROM LETTERS WRITTEN ON BEHALF OF THE BELOVED GUARDIAN, SHOGHI EFFENDI:

In connection with the question as to whether Bahá’ís should be familiar with the different sciences and branches of study, Shoghi Effendi wishes me to inform you that both Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have given a very high position to men of culture and knowledge and Bahá’u’lláh says in one of His Tablets that respect shown to such people is incumbent upon all Bahá’ís. Furthermore there is no doubt that familiarity with different branches of study widens one’s point of view and we can then understand and realize the significance of the Bahá’í Movement and its principles much more.

(14 December 1924 to an individual believer)

A Compilation on Scholarship, Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, Bahá’í World Centre, February 1995, p. 4

FROM LETERS WRITTEN ON BEHALF OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE:

At this early stage in the development of the Faith, it would not be useful to propound a highly restrictive definition of the term “Bahá’í scholarship”. In a letter written on behalf of the House of Justice to an Association for Bahá’í Studies recently, it is stated that:

IMG_9594The House of Justice advises you not to attempt to define too narrowly the form that Bahá’í scholarship should take, or the approach that scholars should adopt. Rather should you strive to develop within your Association respect for a wide range of approaches and endeavours. No doubt there will be some Bahá’ís who will wish to work in isolation, while others will desire consultation and collaboration with those having similar interests. Your aim should be to promote an atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance within which will be included scholars whose principal interest is in theological issues as well as those scholars whose interests lie in relating the insights provided by the Bahá’í teachings to contemporary thought in the arts and sciences.

A similar diversity should characterize the endeavours pursued by Bahá’í scholars, accommodating their interests and skills as well as the needs of the Faith. The course of world events, the development of new trends of thought and the extension of the teaching work all tend to highlight attractive and beneficial areas to which Bahá’í scholars might well direct their attention. Likewise, the expansion of the activities of the Bahá’í International Community in its relationship with United Nations agencies and other international bodies creates attractive opportunities for scholars to make a direct and highly valued contribution to the enhancement of the prestige of the Faith and to its proclamation within an influential and receptive stratum of society. As the Bahá’í community continues to emerge inexorably from obscurity, it will be confronted by enemies, from both within and without, whose aim will be to malign and misrepresent its principles, so that its admirers might be disillusioned and the faith of its adherents might be shaken; Bahá’í scholars have a vital role to play in the defence of the Faith through their contribution to anticipatory measures and their response to defamatory accusations levelled against the Faith.

IMG_7897Thus, there should be room within the scope of Bahá’í scholarship to accommodate not only those who are interested in theological issues and in the historical origins of the Faith, but also those who are interested in relating the Bahá’í Teachings to their field of academic or professional interest, as well as those believers who may lack formal academic qualifications but who have, through their perceptive study of the Teachings, acquired insights which are of interest to others….

The House of Justice wishes to avoid use of the terms “Bahá’í scholarship” and “Bahá’í scholars” in an exclusive sense, which would effectively establish a demarcation between those admitted into this category and those denied entrance to it. It is clear that such terms are relative, and that what is a worthy scholarly endeavour by a Bahá’í, when compared to the activities of those with whom he is in contact, may well be regarded as of vastly lesser significance when measured against the accomplishments of the outstanding scholars which the Faith has produced. The House of Justice seeks the creation of a Bahá’í community in which the members encourage each other, where there is respect for accomplishment, and a common realization that every one is, in his or her own way, seeking to acquire a deeper understanding of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh and to contribute to the advancement of the Faith.

(19 October 1993 to an individual believer)

A Compilation on Scholarship, Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, Bahá’í World Centre, February 1995, pp: 4-5