The only authoritative sources for investigating the truth in Baha’ism are books or translations published and distributed by the UHJ or institutions they have authorized. Shoghi says:
“Bahā’u’llāh has made it clear enough that only those things that have been revealed in the form of Tablets have a binding power over the friends. Hearsays may be matters of interest but can in no way claim authority (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the United States Publishing Committee, December 29, 1931).”
Reference: Helen Bassett Hornby, Lights of Guidance: A Bahā’ī Reference File, chap. XXXVIII, no. 1435.
How does one come by these books if they are needed for investigating the truth? There is no option but to use specific hand-picked documents that have been distributed by the Universal House of Justice. The rest of the Baha’i scripture is safeguarded in the Baha’i Archives in Haifa and other than a privileged few, no one has access to them. The following letter from the Universal House of Justice to an unnamed Baha’i shows the sheer amount of unpublished documents that are being safeguarded in these archives:
The Universal House of Justice Department of the Secretariat
Transmitted by email
6 June 2013
Dear Bahā’ī Friend,
Your email letter dated 3 April 2013 requesting statistics concerning the Sacred Texts has been received at the Bahā’ī World Centre and forwarded to the Research Department for study. That Department notes that the collection and collation of the Sacred Writings is an ongoing process, and the numbers are continually being revised. The estimates of the numbers of unique works can be given as follows:
For Bahā’ullāh, nearly 20,000 unique works have been identified. Most of these Writings have been collected; however, 865 are known to have been revealed, but the texts are not available. Close to 15,000 of the collected works have been authenticated by the Archives Office to date.
For the Bāb, over 2,000 unique works have been identified. Most of these Writings have been collected; however, 74 are known to have been revealed, but the texts are not available. Nearly 1,600 of the collected works have been authenticated.
For ‘Abdu’l-Bahā, over 30,000 unique works have been identified. All of these Writings have been collected and over 27,000 of them have been authenticated.
For Shoghi Effendi, over 22,000 unique works have been identified. All of these documents have been collected and the majority of them have been authenticated.
It is estimated that approximately ten per cent of the documents described above are in photocopied form. A fraction of the total numbers of unique works have been published in the original languages or translated into Western languages. However, citing exact numbers would be misleading since much of the unpublished and untranslated material consists of day-to-day correspondence and personal guidance and encouragement, which is less likely to be of general interest. The World Centre is actively pursuing a publication programme for the as yet unpublished major works of the Central Figures of the Faith and Shoghi Effendi.
With loving Bahā’ī greetings,
Department of the Secretariat
Reference: http://bahai-library.com/uhj_numbers_sacred_writings (retrieved 28/2/2014)
These documents are the most important source for investigating the truth for Baha’is and non-Baha’is alike.
Why have these works not been published and why are researchers not granted access to them?
The first excuse is “much of the unpublished and untranslated material consists of day-to-day correspondence and personal guidance and encouragement, which is less likely to be of general interest.” This is unacceptable.
Would these works not be invaluable in following the first principle of seeking the truth?
Surely there are many people out there who would love to read these works and would definitely receive guidance and insight from them. Is this not a disguise to withhold these Tablets from the public?
Professor Juan Cole brought up some interesting points in this regard:
If translating and making available the writings of Bahā’u’llāh were in fact any sort of priority of the Universal House of Justice, they have enormous resources with which to do so. (Anyone who can spend $250 million [He is referring to the cost of building the Baha’i World Center.] on building works has the money for other projects, as well). They have simply decided to expend their resources on other things. I once saw in a library a big set of books, The Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo in Bengali with English translations. Aurobindo was a 20th century Indian holy man. But his followers managed to get his *complete* collected works not only published but also translated, not long after his death. Aurobindo’s following is tiny and poor compared to that of the Bahā’īs. That only about 5% of Bahā’u’llāh’s works have been translated is not an unfortunate side effect of lack of resources in the Bahā’īs community. It is a deliberate decision to invest the money in things like monumental architecture instead.
According to Professor Cole, the resources to distribute these works are available but the UHJ is deliberately diverting them elsewhere. Today, it has become clear that this is not the case. Rather, it is evident that the UHJ simply does not want to publish these works. Since at least 1993, most, if not all of these works had been digitized, typed, and placed in a database:
“To assist the House of Justice in referring to the wealth of guidance and teachings contained in the Bahā’ī Writings, a computer database is used which contains descriptions of every Tablet and every letter of Shoghi Effendi, together with a typed copy of the text of each document. In the near future images of the original documents will also be stored in the computer, making it unnecessary to refer to the original items.”
Reference: This is a section of a pamphlet inserted in `Andalīb magazine, 12:48 (Fall 1993).
If the UHJ had the slightest intention of distributing these writings, they could have easily placed the database on an internet server, or distributed it as a DVD. The UHJ simply does not want the public to have access to these files. What other explanation could there be for someone to hide the illuminating, enlightening, and guiding words of a claimant to Prophethood, but only distributing a few selected Tablets?
So how exactly are truth seekers supposed to investigate the truth and abandon imitations?
If Investigating the Truth Means You Have to Question the Official Baha’is Stance on a Subject You Will Be Shunned
Suppose someone uses the limited means at hand to investigate the truth about Baha’ism and, based on his investigation, reaches a conclusion that goes against official doctrine. If this conclusion is publically announced, that person will be shunned. For instance if someone opposes the guardian, they must be shunned and no excuse must be accepted from them. `Abdu’l-Bahā says:
“The Hands of the Cause of God must be ever watchful and so soon as they find anyone beginning to oppose and protest against the Guardian of the Cause of God, cast him out from the congregation of the people of Bahā and in no wise accept any excuse from him. How often hath grievous error been disguised in the garb of truth, that it might sow the seeds of doubt in the hearts of men!”
Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, The Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahā (US Bahā’ī Publishing Trust, 1990), p. 12.
Ironically, the same `Abdu’l-Bahā that gives the order to expel his coreligionists says:
“Kindness brings about life, separation brings about death.”
Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Khaṭābāt (Egypt), vol.1, p. 153.
This law is not limited to those that oppose or protest the Guardian. Shoghi, and subsequently the UHJ, have shunned many people because they deemed their words or actions inappropriate, even when they were based on the truth.
Today, there are a number of prominent Baha’i academics who have either been kicked out of the Baha’i community or have left it themselves after they protested the actions of the UHJ or their investigations showed facts contrary to what the UHJ was propagating. People such as Professor Juan Cole, Dr. Linda Walbridge, Dr. Firouz Anarki, Sen McGlinn, and Frederick Glaysher are only a few of these individuals.
If people must independently investigate the truth then why are they kicked out of the Baha’i community and shunned when they do so?
Distorting Baha’i Scripture
The greatest obstacle in the path of investigating the truth is not hiding the material that can be used to do so, rather, it is deceiving the investigator by distorting and creating an inverted image of the truth.
Unfortunately, Baha’is actively engage in this act. The initiator of this act was Bahā’u’llāh himself who changed the original text of the book of Īqān once it was found that he had made multiple grammatical and Quranic mistakes in it. He had also forged and distorted a number of Islamic narrations to falsely prove that the Bāb was the Mahdi of Islam.
Other forms of this act can be seen in deleting or changing problematic subjects in new editions of books. For instance, the Tablet of the Maiden (lauḥ Ḥūriyyah) which described Bahā’u’llāh sexually fondling the Holy Spirit was removed from the fourth volume of Āthār-i Qalam-i A`lā in later editions.
After the death of Shoghi, once it became clear that Bahā’u’llāh and `Abdu’l-Bahā’s prophecies about the Guardianship were incorrect, a number of Baha’i books and texts which spoke about the responsibilities of the Guardian were distorted. In the new versions of these texts, the Guardians responsibilities were transferred to the Universal House of Justice! For instance, in the fifth edition of Aḥmad Yazdānī’s Nazar-i ijmālī dar diyanat-i Bahā’ī that was published by the Baha’i Publishing Trust of Iran in 129 B., distortions can be seen on pages 31 and 105 that speak about the institution responsible for resolving differences amongst Baha’is and also the recipient of Ḥuqūq Allah.
Vance Salisbury, in his article A Critical Examination of 20th-Century Baha’i Literature, points to many other distortions of this kind. He brings up many interesting subjects. For instance, he refers to another unfulfilled prophecy from `Abdu’l-Bahā that was later removed from Esslemont’s book:
Perhaps the most important change in Bahā’u’llāh and the New Era was made on page 212 of the 1923 edition. Recorded as a Bahā’ī prophecy concerning the “Coming of the Kingdom of God,” Esslemont cited Abdu’l-Bahā’s interpretation of the last two verses of the Book of Daniel from the Bible. He stated that the 1335 days spoken of by Daniel represented 1335 solar years from Muhammad’s flight to Medina in 622 A.D., which would equal 1957 A.D.. When asked “‘What shall we see at the end of the 1335 days?’,” Abdu’l-Bahā’s reply was: “‘Universal Peace will be firmly established, a Universal language promoted. Misunderstandings will pass away. The Bahā’ī Cause will be promulgated in all parts and the oneness of mankind established. It will be most glorious!'” In editions published after his death, Esslemont’s words have been changed to say that Abdu’l-Bahā “reckoned the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy from the date of the beginning of the Muhammadan era” and one of Abdu’l-Bahá’s Tablets is quoted on the same subject in which he writes, “‘For according to this calculation a century will have elapsed from the dawn of the Sun of Truth . . . Esslemont recorded Abdu’l-Bahā as declaring explicitly that the prophecy was to be computed from the Hijra or 622 A.D. and that specific conditions would exist in the world upon it’s fulfillment in 1957. When it became apparent that this Bahā’ī prophecy would not be fulfilled, it was replaced with the ambiguous material which has remained in the text to the present.
Reference: http://bahai-library.com/salisbury_critical_examination_literature (retrieved 22/2/2014)
Investigating the Truth or Proselytizing to Illiterate Masses That Have No Means of Investigating the Truth
Baha’is actively engage in proselytizing missions that are utterly against the investigation of truth. In these campaigns— that continue with great force today—illiterate masses in third world countries that have no means of investigating the truth whatsoever, are converted to Baha’ism under the disguise of education and humanitarian relief. Moojan Momen, the prominent Baha’i author, explains this by writing:
“Missionary endeavour on the part of Middle Eastern and Western Bahā’īs had led to the establishment of Bahā’ī communities in several parts of the non-Muslim ‘Third World’, initially among the Western-oriented urban minority. Conversions of larger numbers began in a few isolated areas in the 1950s and spread during the 1960s to most parts of the ‘Third World’. The results were dramatic. As Bahā’ī teachers learned to adapt their message and missionary techniques to the situation of the unschooled masses of Third World peasants and urban workers, they completely transformed their religion’s social base. Now, the great majority of Bahā’īs in the world are drawn from the popular classes of the non- Islamic Third World. Even in the well-established Bahā’ī communities of North America, recent infusions of minority group members (Blacks and Amerindians) has led to a significant change in the social base of the membership . . . By the late 1960s, a great increase in the number of Bahā’īs had occurred. Conversions of large numbers of tribal or peasant peoples in various parts of the Third World had begun . . . Most of the flood of new Bahā’īs were poorly educated, and many lived in rural and tribal areas with which effective communication was difficult to sustain.”
Reference: P. Smith, M. Momen, The Baha’i faith 1957–1988: A survey of contemporary developments, Religion 19 (1989), pp. 63–91: http://bahai-library.com/momen_smith_developments_1957-1988 (retrieved 28/2/2014)
Baha’i missionaries would convert people from undeveloped countries who lacked the tools and means of investigating the truth to Baha’ism. This resulted in the twenty-fold increase of the Baha’i population in about 30 years. Is there any pride in this attitude, especially from a creed that claims all people must be given the chance to independently investigate the truth?
How Baha’is Investigate the Truth From Childhood
What most Baha’is do not know today, is that `Abdu’l-Bahā had prohibited his followers from sending their children to non-Baha’i schools. It was because of this order that Baha’i schools like Madrisiy-i Tarbiyat were established in Tehran:
“It is absolutely prohibited for the children of the friends to go to the schools of others (meaning non-Baha’is) for this is [a cause of] humiliation (dhillat) for the Cause of God and they will be completely deprived of the Blessed Beauty’s graces. Because they will be educated/nurtured elsewise and they will disgrace the Baha’is.”
Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Makātīb (probably Tehran: n.p., n.d.), vol. 5, p. 170.
`Abdu’l-Bahā prohibits his followers in the strictest sense and using threatening language from sending their children to non-Baha’i schools. Apparently, Baha’i children must be prevented from learning anything non-Baha’i while they are still in an age in which they cannot decide for themselves about what is right and wrong. They must be induced to think that the Baha’i creed is the only source of salvation for mankind and its teachings are unique and better than all other teachings. When these children grow up, they will be biased towards the Baha’i creed and their investigation of the truth will be influenced by the teachings that have been firmly established in their minds since childhood.
Investigating the Truth a Crime for Israeli Citizens
For reasons still unknown, Bahā’u’llāh had prohibited his followers from teaching Baha’ism to the people of Israel. In a letter dated 23/6/1995 the Universal House of Justice replies to an individual believer:
The Universal House of Justice has received your email message dated 29 June 1995 and we have been asked to respond.
You have asked how the policy of not teaching Israelis applies in the situation in which you have contact with an Israeli via an “interactive relay chat” (IRC) connection. The House of Justice has not asked the friends to avoid contact with Israelis. When you discover that a person you are in contact with via IRC is an Israeli, you should feel free to maintain friendly contact, but you should not teach the Faith to him. If he has already developed a personal interest in the Faith and seeks more information, you should refer him to the Offices of the Bahā’ī World Centre in Haifa.
For your information, the people in Israel have access to factual information about the Faith, its history and general principles. Books concerning the Faith are available in libraries throughout Israel, and Israelis are welcome to visit the Shrines and the surrounding gardens. However, in keeping with a policy that has been strictly followed since the days of Bahā’u’llāh, Bahā’īs do not teach the Faith in Israel. Likewise, the Faith is not taught to Israelis abroad if they intend to return to Israel. When Israelis ask about the Faith, their questions are answered, but this is done in a manner which provides factual information without stimulating further interest.
With loving Bahā’ī greetings,
Department of the Secretariat
Reference: http://bahai-library.com/uhj_teaching_in_israel (retrieved 8/3/2014)
This order is quite puzzling in light of the principle of the independent investigation of truth. Why should a specific group of people be deprived of the right of learning and embracing the truth?
Courtesy: Twelve Principles – A Comprehensive Investigation on the Bahai Teachings