Did the leaders of Baha’ism try to spread, seek, and accept the truth, or did they—and do they still—try to hide and deny it?
How Baha’is View Reason and Knowledge
To investigate the truth, one must use reason and knowledge to reach logical conclusions on the matters being investigated. Bahā’u’llāh claims that one’s reason and knowledge are invalid unless one becomes a Baha’i. He says:
“The general criterion is what we mentioned and any soul who has success in it, meaning recognizes and realizes the Sunrise of Manifestation (meaning himself), will be mentioned in the Divine Book as someone who possesses reason or else he will be (mentioned as) ignorant even if he himself thinks that his reason equals that of the whole world.”
Reference: `Abd a l-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Mā’idiy-i āsimānī (Tehran: Mu’assisiyi Millī Maṭbū`āt Amrī, 129 Badī`), vol. 7, p. 160.
He also claims that, in contrast to previous revelations in which people could not understand some of the laws brought forth, in Baha’ism everything is quite clear, and whoever denies its revelations completely lacks reason:
“No one has denied or will deny what has been revealed by the Ancient Pen (meaning himself) in this Most Great Manifestation regarding society, unity, manners, rites, and being occupied with what has benefits for the people, except that he completely lacks reason.”
Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, Iqtidārāt wa chand lauḥ dīgar, (n.p.: n.p., n.d.), p. 168.
Furthermore, Bahā’u’llāh and `Abdu’l-Bahā claim that reason serves the purpose of recognizing God:
“The first grace that has been bestowed on the human body is reason and its purpose is the recognition of the Truth (meaning God) Exalted be His Glory.”
Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, Muntakhabātī az āthār Ḥaḍrat Bahā’u’llāh (Langenhain [Germany]: Lajniyi Millī Nashr Āthār Amrī Bi Zabānhayi Fārsī wa `Arabī, 141 Badī`), p. 127. The official Baha’i translation reads: “First and foremost among these favors, which the Almighty hath conferred upon man, is the gift of understanding. His purpose in conferring such a gift is none other except to enable His creature to know and recognize the one true God—exalted be His glory,” Bahā’u’llāh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahā’u’llāh (US Bahā’ī Publishing Trust, 1990 [pocket-size edition]), p. 194.
“If you seek the recognition of God . . . refer to the arguments (put forward by) reason and narrations.”
Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Makātīb (Tehran: Mu’assisiyi Millī Maṭbū`āt Amrī, 134 B.), vol. 8, pp. 119 -120.
“If today, someone grasps all of the knowledge on earth but stops at the word ‘yes’ (meaning does not become a Baha’i), the Lord will not pay attention to him (ladī l-Ḥaqq madhkūr na) and he will be considered as the most ignorant amongst the people.”
Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, Iqtidārāt wa chand lauḥ dīgar, p. 111.
“From now on nobody is to be called knowledgeable, except those who have decorated themselves with the garment of this New Affair (meaning those who have become Baha’is).”
Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, Badī`, pp. 138–139.
Thus, if a very knowledgeable scholar pauses and hesitates about acknowledging Baha’ism, he is considered among the most ignorant of the people.
Do these statements from the founder of Baha’ism agree with the notion of accepting and seeking the truth?
Do Baha’is tell the world that their leader believes that those who do not become Baha’is lack reason and are ignorant?
It appears that reason is a tool that is only useful for reaching Baha’ism. Once someone embraces the faith, he must stop using his reason.
In Baha’ism, it is taught that every person must choose their beliefs after reaching the age of religious maturity (“A question [was asked] about the age of religious maturity; answer: maturity is in the fifteenth year and both men and women are the same regarding this matter,” `Abd a l-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Ganjīniy-i ḥudūd wa aḥkām, 3rd ed. (Tehran: Mu’assisiyi Millī Maṭbū`āt Amrī, 128 B.), p. 14..)
“When humans attain the rank of [religious] maturity they must investigate . . . and [they] must hear and see with their own ears and eyes.”
Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p. 11 (citing Bahā’u’llāh).
On the other hand Bahā’u’llāh expects his followers to shut down their reason and imitate him with complete blindness, deafness, and ignorance:
“Become blind so that you see my face, become deaf so that you hear my pleasant tone and voice, become ignorant so that you get a share of my knowledge, and become poor so that you can take an everlasting portion from the sea of my eternal riches. ‘Become blind’ means [see] nothing but my beauty and ‘become deaf’ means [hear] nothing but my words and ‘become ignorant’ means [have no knowledge] but my knowledge, so that with a pure eye and clean heart and fine ear you come to my sanctified realm.”
Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, Ad`iyyih-i ḥaḍrat-i maḥbūb (Egypt: Published by Faraj-Allāh Dhakī al-Kurdī, 1339 AH), pp. 427–428. This is the Official Baha’i translation for these words:
“Blind thine eyes, that thou mayest behold My beauty; stop thine ears, that thou mayest hearken unto the sweet melody of My voice; empty thyself of all learning, that thou mayest partake of My knowledge; and sanctify thyself from riches, that thou mayest obtain a lasting share from the ocean of My eternal wealth. Blind thine eyes, that is, to all save My beauty; stop thine ears to all save My word; empty thyself of all learning save the knowledge of Me; that with a clear vision, a pure heart and an attentive ear thou mayest enter the court of My holiness,”
Refernce: Bahā’u’llāh, The Hidden Words of Bahā’u’llāh (US Bahā’ī Publishing Trust, 1985 [reprint]), p. 25.
He further says:
“No pleasure has been created in the world greater than listening to the verses [brought by Bahā’u’llāh] and understanding their meanings and not objecting to or questioning any of the words and comparing them with the words of others.”
Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, Badī`, p. 145.
How the Truth About Baha’ism is Investigated
To investigate the truth about anything, we must first obtain knowledge about it then use our reason to reach a verdict and conclusion. If a Baha’i wants to research his or her religion, there are three sources from which he or she can seek knowledge:
First, former Baha’is who have denounced their faith or been shunned and labeled as covenant breakers.
Second, memories and statements from people who have witnessed the actions of the Baha’i leaders.
Third, official Baha’i documents and sources.
Is it possible for truth seeking Baha’is to investigate their faith from any of these three sources?
“It is better not to read books by Covenant-breakers because they are haters of the Light, sufferers from a spiritual leprosy, so to speak. But books by well-meaning yet unenlightened enemies of the Cause can be read so as to refute their charges.”
Reference: Helen Bassett Hornby, Lights of Guidance: A Bahā’ī Reference File (New Delhi: Bahā’ī Publishing Trust, 1983), chap. XII, no. 628.
Although Baha’is preach the Investigation of Truth, their laws prevent direct interaction with those who they deem as inappropriate sources. Any form of indirect investigation is also discouraged. These limitations are against the spirit of the principle of Seeking and Investigating the Truth, which the Baha’is preach with pride.
Unofficial Translations, Memoirs, Pilgrims’ Notes, and Unofficial Writings
Unauthorized materials, such as translations not yet approved by the UHJ, memoirs of people who have socialized with Baha’i figures, books that have not been authorized by the UHJ, pilgrims’ notes, and similar works are considered inappropriate for investigating the truth. Although Baha’is are allowed to read these books, any conclusion they reach using these sources is void and unacceptable if it is against the official UHJ stance.
What is more disturbing is that it doesn’t matter how reliable a pilgrim making a note is or how many different people have narrated what they have heard or seen from a Baha’i figure; these notes are simply labeled as hearsay that confer no authority:
“The instructions of the Master and the Guardian make it very clear that Pilgrims’ notes are hearsay and cannot claim the authority and binding power of the Sacred Text . . . [sic] Moreover, the fact that the pilgrim writing of his experience is a reliable or well-known believer, or that the reported statement seems to be repeated in the notes of several pilgrims, does not in itself confer authority upon the pilgrim’s note in question.”
Reference: Helen Bassett Hornby, Lights of Guidance: A Bahā’ī Reference File, chap. XXXVIII, no. 1433.
If these sources are used to prove a point that is not in favor of the Baha’is, they are quickly labeled as unreliable and dismissed. Nevertheless, these writings are extensively used by Baha’is in their preaching’s and proselytizing materials. Such double standards make these notes useless for investigating the truth, for any conclusion based on them can simply be refuted on the basis of not being authoritative. Thus, from a Baha’i viewpoint, these sources cannot be used as a source for investigating the truth.
Courtesy: Twelve Principles – A Comprehensive Investigation on the Bahai Teachings