1- Baha’is and Compulsory Education
`Abdu’l-Bahā had insisted that all people everywhere should be educated using the exact same manner and system:
“It is necessary that the guidelines and laws of education be the same [everywhere] so that all humankind are given the same education. This means education and nurturing must be the same in all schools. All elements and methods must be the same.”
Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Khaṭābāt (Tehran), vol. 2, p. 148.
This method has not been implemented in Baha’i communities to any extent. Baha’is receive the same tutoring and education that all non-Baha’is receive. There exists no compulsion nor equality in the methods and degrees of education a Baha’i receives. Since this teaching is completely impractical using the aforementioned format, `Abdu’l-Bahā changed his mind and announced that there is no need for equal methods and degrees of education for all, rather education must be according to capacity:
“Among other teachings and principles Bahā’u’llāh counsels the education of all members of society. No individual should be denied or deprived of intellectual training, although each should receive according to capacity. None must be left in the grades of ignorance, for ignorance is a defect in the human world. All mankind must be given a knowledge of science and philosophy—that is, as much as may be deemed necessary. All cannot be scientists and philosophers, but each should be educated according to his needs and deserts.”
Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p.108.
There is nothing exciting or outstanding about this order. All systems of education have been and still are based on the capacity of the student. How `Abdu’l-Bahā hadn’t come by this order in the first place—with all his superhuman knowledge—is a question that the Baha’is must answer.
2- The Bābī Meaning of Education
The predecessor of Bahā’u’llāh, had he succeeded in spreading his creed, would have limited education to a few mere topics uttered in his own books.
For he had
A. given orders to destroy all non-Bābī books.
“Chapter six of the sixth unit which is about destroying all books but those that have been written or will be written about this order (meaning the Bab’s creed),”
Reference: The Bāb, Farsi Bayān, unit 6, chap. 6.
B. Prohibited teaching anything but the Bayān.
“Teaching a book other than the book of Bayān is not allowed unless it has in it what is related to theology (kalām). [Teaching] those [sciences] which have been invented such as logic (manṭiq), principles [of Jurisprudence] (uṣūl), and other [sciences], is not permitted for those who have faith,”
Reference: The Bāb, Farsi Bayān, unit 4, chap. 10.
C. Prohibited owning more than nineteen books.
“You have been prohibited in the Bayān from having more than nineteen books. If you do so, you will be fined 19 mithqāls of gold,”
Reference: The Bāb, Arabic Bayān, unit 11, chap. 7.
D. The leader of a creed that goes about claiming that a single letter from these laws is more dear to him than everything that is in the skies and the earth, cannot exactly boast about being a promoter of education.
“I [swear by] He who in His hand is my soul and my essence, a single letter from the Bayān is dearer to me than everything that is in the heavens and the earth,”
Reference: Asad-Allāh Fāḍil Māzandarānī, Asrār al-āthār khuṣūṣī, vol. 5, p. 333.