Opinion

Entries arguing a particular point of view

Dissidents and the Baha'i Faith

On the Internet today one may find webpages, websites and member lists that contain disgruntled views and/or bitter attacks, usually against the Bahá’í Administrative Order, from a relatively small number of so-called dissident and ex-Bahá’ís. A dissident is not, of course, an ex-Bahá’í, but someone who still claims to be a follower who has serious grievances against the Bahá’í Faith and who continues to militate for their acceptance. A dissident must be distinguished from the individual, who for personal reasons, chooses not to associate with the community, and from the person who, for one reason or another, drifts away from the Faith. Surprisingly, some of these attacks are made even by “Bahá’ís in good standing.”

In the early 1990’s, I gained first-hand experience of this phenomenon when I was a temporary member of the original Talisman list, hosted by ex-Bahá’í, Dr. Juan Ricardo Cole. I subsequently resigned from Talisman I when Dr. Cole, in his grand design to be the “gadfly” reformer of the Bahá’í Faith, made direct, frontal attacks on the Universal House of Justice. What is perhaps not so well-known was that by that time Dr. Cole had been remonstrating with the Universal House of Justice more or less steadily for about 20 years.

{josquote}One of the keys to the sympathetic ear temporarily lent to the disgruntled has to do with the way that organized religion is generally perceived in contemporary society. In modernity, religion and spirituality have gone their separate ways.{/josquote}

It is not the purpose of this message to reanimate the specifics of Cole’s case which are well-known to those who once belonged to Talisman I and who are familiar with his articles that attempted to blacken the reputation of the Bahá’í Administrative Order. He has since found new enemies: his blog is largely devoted to attacking the foreign policy of the United States government. However, I would like to make some general comments about dissidents and ex-Bahá’ís, whether it be Juan Cole, Francesco Ficicchia in German-speaking Europe in the 1980’s and ‘90’s, and/or the like-minded Internet club of present or past hostile critics.

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Two, Three, Many Islamic Republics

...Farthest along the process is Iran, whose people have had quite enough of Islam. Reuel Marc Gerecht summed it up nicely in Know Thine Enemy:

The Iranian revolution, like fundamentalist movements elsewhere, was not a rebirth of spirit and faith … but the tremors of a dying body torn apart by modern life. Iran, always on the cutting edge of Islamic history, was perhaps taking Muslims where they’d never gone before — to a permanent rupture of church and state, that awkward division of heart and mind that becomes inevitable when God’s earthly representatives demand, and promise, more than they can deliver.

Here’s the way it will play out: When Iran’s Islamic regime finally unravels, some significant number of nominal Muslims will quickly become apostates, embracing Bahai or Zoroastrianism or Christianity (or Buddhism or even Judaism). As this becomes a more widespread and public thing, some of the many remaining fundamentalists will start beheading newly Christian school children and raping newly Zoroastrian women and blowing up newly constructed Bahai temples, intensifying the existing popular disgust with the Islamic faith and thus accelerating conversions to other faiths.

Eventually, as the number of former Muslims begins to constitute a large percentage of the population, the various keepers of Islam will see the need for a new version of the faith that people won’t abandon — thereby ushering in the long-awaited but ever elusive “moderate” Islam, where jihad really does mean nothing more than spiritual struggle, where the many problematic suras and hadiths are explained away as historical artifacts. Muslims won’t make this change if they don’t have to, but they will when the only alternative is the disappearance of Islam.

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Should you fail to attain victory upon the living; battle with the dead

I know not what it is that has overcome this land and nation. With the passing of each day, one notices more and more manifestations of weakness and desperation amongst those who reign powerful. It is as though a wellspring of the uttermost degrees of anger and hatred is gushing out of the depths of their beings. They are lost in a frenzy of bewilderment as to the manner in which to employ all that rage and fury.

Their animosity towards the Baha'is goes back a long, long, way: they captured the Baha'is; killed them; looted their homes and belongings; and fancied that they could extinguish the Divine Light of Truth. But, they did not succeed!

They picked upon the meek and threatened their lives and belongings! They exiled them and -- running them away from their own homes and nation -- sent them astray in strange lands. They burnt a few alive, while they took many in captivity; yet they did not succeed!

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Q & A with Israeli Ambassador Emanuel Seri

Q. What’s your government’s relationship with the Baha’i Faith which started in Israel in 1844?
— Bernard Gitonga, Nairobi.

A. Israel maintains full freedom of religion in its territory, and pilgrims from all over the world are allowed to practise their faith and are more than welcome to visit Israel. Israel is privileged to host the world Bahai centre in Haifa and enjoys the beauty and pleasure of the magnificent Bahai gardens on the slopes of Mount Carmel.

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Zionist Agents -The Baha'is?

Since I could remember I often hear the term Zionism and the name of my Faith, the Baha’i Faith, used in the same sentence by people who are responsible for abuse against the Baha’is. I have been thinking and trying to figure out how and why this assumption could be reached by the clerical regime in Iran. So, this post will try to lay out the facts for those curious individual who are wondering what to think.

So, lets start by laying out the facts, indisputable facts.

Zionism is a term referred to the theological and political movement of establishing a Jewish state. Guess what, it has happened and its probably not going anywhere regardless of your own views. Zionism was a strong movement that did reach its goal when the state of Israel was established in 1948. The movement to even exist today as an active transnational movement would be redundant because it has already accomplished its goal!

{josquote}There are no Baha’is actually who are citizens of Israel, Baha’is live there but only have work visas and are forbidden from teaching or promoting the Faith in Israel. So, if you thought, “what about if there are Israeli Baha’is, could they be Zionist agents?” The answer is…Impossible.{/josquote}

To be a spy or agent of a state or party means to actively work in gaining information for that state or party.

The Baha’is are the largest religious minority in Iran with some 300,000 believers spread through out the country. It is also a world wide religion with follows in every country from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. It is an organized religion with its administrative headquarters in Haifa, Israel. Its headquarters have been there since the late 1800s.

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