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Title: A Compilaton on Scholarship
Author: Universal House of Justice
Language: English
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A Compilaton on Scholarship


by Research Department of the Universal House of Justice



Edition 1, (September  2006)



                           BAHA’I TERMS OF USE


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                                 CONTENTS


Baha’i Terms of Use
[Letter to selected National Spiritual Assemblies]
EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF BAHÁ’U’LLÁH AND ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ AND FROM THE
LETTERS OF SHOGHI EFFENDI AND THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE ON
SCHOLARSHIP
1. THE STATION OF SCHOLARSHIP
   1.1 Importance of Knowledge and Learning
      From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
         1: “Knowledge is one of the wondrous gifts of God. It is
         incumbent upon...”
         2: “Knowledge is as wings to man’s life, and a ladder for his
         ascent. Its...”
      From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
         3: “Make every effort to acquire the advanced knowledge of the
         day, and...”
         4: “...I most urgently request the friends of God to make every
         effort, as much...”
         5: “All blessings are divine in origin, but none can be compared
         with this...”
      From a Letter Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi
         6: “...Bahá’u’lláh considered education as one of the most
         fundamental factors...”
   1.2 Characteristics of the “truly learned”
      From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
         7: “Happy are ye, O ye the learned ones in Bahá. By the Lord! Ye
         are...”
         8: “The Great Being saith: The man of consummate learning and the
         sage...”
         9: “Know thou that he is truly learned who hath acknowledged My
         Revelation, and...”
         10: “Consider, how can he that faileth in the day of God’s
         Revelation...”
      From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
         11: “...there are those famed and accomplished men of learning,
         possessed of...”
      From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi
         12: “In connection with the question as to whether Bahá’ís should
         be familiar...”
         13: “The Cause needs more Bahá’í scholars, people who not only
         are devoted...”
   1.3 Scope of “Bahá’í Scholarship”
      From a Letter Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
         14: “At this early stage in the development of the Faith, it
         would not...”
   1.4 Appreciation of Scholarship
      From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
         15: “Respect ye the divines and learned amongst you, they whose
         conduct accords...”
         16: “O people of God! Righteous men of learning who dedicate
         themselves to...”
         17: “Beware, O My loved ones, lest ye despise the merits of My
         learned servants...”
      From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
         18: “...the religion of God is the promoter of truth, the founder
         of science and...”
         19: “There are certain pillars which have been established as the
         unshakeable...”
      From a Letter Written by Shoghi Effendi
         20: “The responsibilities of the members of the Spiritual
         Assemblies that are...”
2. FUNCTIONS OF BAHÁ’Í SCHOLARSHIP
   2.1 Promotion of Human Welfare
      From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
         21: “The Great Being saith: The learned of the day must direct
         the people to...”
         22: “True learning is that which is conducive to the well-being
         of the world, not...”
      From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
         23: “The primary, the most urgent requirement is the promotion of
         education....”
      From a Letter Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi
         24: “The news of the co-operation of the Bahá’í young men and
         women in...”
      From a Letter of the Universal House of Justice
         25: “The further emergence of the Faith from obscurity is
         reflected in distinctive...”
   2.2 Defence of the Faith
      From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
         26: “If any man were to arise to defend, in his writings, the
         Cause of God against...”
      From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
         27: “The second of these spiritual standards which apply to the
         possessor of...”
      From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi
         28: “Shoghi Effendi was delighted to hear of your conversation
         with Sir .......”
         29: “There is an answer in the teachings for everything;
         unfortunately the...”
   2.3 Expansion and Consolidation of the Bahá’í Community
      From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
         30: “Pure souls, such as Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl, upon him be the Glory
         of God,...”
      From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi
         31: “We had heard through various channels the wonderful way your
         children had...”
         32: “The university training which you are receiving at present
         will be of immense...”
         33: “Young men and women in the Faith must be deep and thoughtful
         scholars of its...”
         34: “If the Bahá’ís want to be really effective in teaching the
         Cause they need to...”
      From a Letter Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
         35: “The Universal House of Justice ... regards Bahá’í
         scholarship as of...”
   2.4 Contribution to Scholarly Development
      From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi
         36: “He was very happy to hear from you, and to see with what
         keen appreciation...”
         37: “Regarding the advice you requested from him concerning what
         studies you...”
      From Letters Written by or on Behalf of the Universal House of
      Justice
         38: “You are already a qualified practitioner in your field, and
         no doubt you...”
         39: “As the Bahá’í community grows it will acquire experts in
         numerous fields...”
         40: “Indeed, let them [the Bahá’í youth] welcome with confidence
         the challenges...”
         41: “The House of Justice recognizes that the questions you
         raise, concerning...”
3. GENERAL PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES
   3.1 Spiritual Foundation
      From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
         42: “Therefore, hath it been said: “Knowledge is a light which
         God casteth into...”
         43: “We have decreed, O people, that the highest and last end of
         all learning...”
      From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
         44: “Although to acquire the sciences and arts is the greatest
         glory of...”
         45: “And every branch of learning, conjoined with the love of
         God, is approved...”
         46: “Scientific knowledge is the highest attainment upon the
         human plane,...”
      From a Letter Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi
         47: “Between the truth which comes from God through His Prophets,
         and the...”
      From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
         48: “Just as there is a fundamental difference between divine
         Revelation itself...”
         49: “The combination of absolute loyalty to the Manifestation of
         God and...”
         50: “The House of Justice suggests that the issues raised in your
         letter...”
   3.2 “Useful” Sciences
      From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
         51: “It is permissible to study sciences and arts, but such
         sciences as are...”
      From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
         52: “The individual should, prior to engaging in the study of any
         subject, ask...”
      From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi
         53: “The choice you have made for your course of study is surely
         most...”
         54: “Philosophy, as you will study it and later teach it, is
         certainly not...”
      From a Letter Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
         55: “In response to your letter of ... in which you seek guidance
         on the...”
   3.3 Attitudes of the Scholar
      From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
         56: “Amongst the people is he whose learning hath made him proud,
         and who hath...”
         57: “Show forbearance and benevolence and love to one another.
         Should any...”
         58: “Beware lest ye contend with any one, nay, strive to make him
         aware of the truth...”
         59: “Warn, O Salmán, the beloved of the one true God, not to view
         with too...”
      From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
         60: “Good behaviour and high moral character must come first, for
         unless the...”
      From Letters Written by or on Behalf of the Universal House of
      Justice
         61: “...the believers must recognize the importance of
         intellectual honesty and...”
         62: “When studying at school or university Bahá’í youth will
         often find...”
         63: “The House of Justice agrees that it is most important for
         the believers,...”
         64: “The House of Justice feels that Bahá’í scholars must beware
         of the...”
   3.4 Methodological Issues
      65: “Weigh not the Book of God with such standards and sciences as
      are current...”
      66: “When the eyes of the people of the East were captivated by the
      arts...”
   From the Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
      67: “There are only four accepted methods of comprehension—that is
      to say,...”
   From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
      68: “The concern was expressed that many of the friends, holding
      that there...”
      69: “The House of Justice had hoped that the publication of the
      statement...”
      70: “From your letter the House of Justice understands that you
      desire to...”
      71: “The principal concern of the House of Justice is over a
      methodological...”
3.5 The Covenant
   From Letters Written by or on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi
      72: “Concerning the course of study you may follow:.... The Cause
      is...”
      73: “The Guardian feels that a sound knowledge of history, including
      religious...”
      75: “It seems what we need now is a more profound and co-ordinated
      Bahá’í...”
      76: “He was very pleased to hear you do a lot of lecturing for the
      Cause; this...”
      From Communications of the Universal House of Justice
         77: “In the field of Bahá’í scholarship we feel that it is most
         important not...”
         78: “There can be no doubt that the progress of the Cause from
         this time...”



[LETTER TO SELECTED NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES]


10 February 1995

To selected National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Bahá’í Friends,

We have been asked by the Universal House of Justice to send you the
enclosed copy of a compilation on scholarship prepared recently at its
request by the Research Department at the Bahá’í World Centre.

It is the hope of the House of Justice that a study of this compilation
will serve as a stimulus and a guide in the further development of Bahá’í
scholarship, and that the unique features of this vital aspect of Bahá’í
activity will be clarified through a perusal of its contents.

The House of Justice calls upon the members of the community of the
Greatest Name, young and old, men and women alike, to strive to develop
and offer to humanity a new model of scholarly activity along the lines
set out in this compilation, animated by the spirit of inquiry into the
limitless meaning of the Divine Teachings. This scholarly endeavour should
be characterized by the welcome it offers to all who wish to be involved
in it, each in his or her own way, by mutual encouragement and cooperation
among its participants, and by the respect accorded to distinguished
accomplishment and outstanding achievement. The spirit and approach should
be far removed from the arrogance, contention, and exclusiveness which
have too often sullied the name of scholarship in the wider society, and
which have created barriers to the sound development of this worthy
pursuit.

It is left to your discretion to determine the use you should make of the
enclosed material.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,
For Department of the Secretariat

Enclosure

cc: The Hands of the Cause of God
International Teaching Centre
Counsellors



EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF BAHÁ’U’LLÁH AND ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ AND FROM THE
LETTERS OF SHOGHI EFFENDI AND THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE ON
SCHOLARSHIP


Prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice
February 1995



1. THE STATION OF SCHOLARSHIP



1.1 Importance of Knowledge and Learning



From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh


1: “Knowledge is one of the wondrous gifts of God. It is incumbent
upon...”


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.

(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas” (Wilmette:
Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1988), p. 39) [1]


2: “Knowledge is as wings to man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent.
Its...”


Knowledge 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.

(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, pp. 51–52) [2]



From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


3: “Make every effort to acquire the advanced knowledge of the day,
and...”


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

Included 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) [3]


4: “...I most urgently request the friends of God to make every effort, as
much...”


...I most urgently request the friends of God to make every effort, as
much as lieth within their competence, along these lines. The harder they
strive to widen the scope of their knowledge, the better and more
gratifying will be the result. Let the loved ones of God, whether young or
old, whether male or female, each according to his capabilities, bestir
themselves and spare no efforts to acquire the various current branches of
knowledge, both spiritual and secular, and of the arts.

(From a Tablet, translated from the Arabic) [4]


5: “All blessings are divine in origin, but none can be compared with
this...”


All blessings are divine in origin, but none can be compared with this
power of intellectual investigation and research, which is an eternal gift
producing fruits of unending delight. Man is ever partaking of these
fruits. All other blessings are temporary; this is an everlasting
possession. Even sovereignty has its limitations and overthrow; this is a
kingship and dominion which none may usurp or destroy. Briefly, it is an
eternal blessing and divine bestowal, the supreme gift of God to man.
Therefore, you should put forward your most earnest efforts toward the
acquisition of science and arts. The greater your attainment, the higher
your standard in the divine purpose. The man of science is perceiving and
endowed with vision, whereas he who is ignorant and neglectful of this
development is blind. The investigating mind is attentive, alive; the
callous and indifferent mind is deaf and dead. A scientific man is a true
index and representative of humanity, for through processes of inductive
reasoning and research he is informed of all that appertains to humanity,
its status, conditions and happenings. He studies the human body politic,
understands social problems and weaves the web and texture of
civilization. In fact, science may be likened to a mirror wherein the
infinite forms and images of existing things are revealed and reflected.
It is the very foundation of all individual and national development.
Without this basis of investigation, development is impossible. Therefore,
seek with diligent endeavour the knowledge and attainment of all that lies
within the power of this wonderful bestowal.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912” (Wilmette:
Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 50) [5]



From a Letter Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi


6: “...Bahá’u’lláh considered education as one of the most fundamental
factors...”


...Bahá’u’lláh considered education as one of the most fundamental factors
of a true civilization. This education, however, in order to be adequate
and fruitful, should be comprehensive in nature and should take into
consideration not only the physical and the intellectual side of man but
also his spiritual and ethical aspects.

(9 July 1931 to an individual believer) [6]



1.2 Characteristics of the “truly learned”



From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh


7: “Happy are ye, O ye the learned ones in Bahá. By the Lord! Ye are...”


Happy are ye, O ye the learned ones in Bahá. By the Lord! Ye are the
billows of the Most Mighty Ocean, the stars of the firmament of Glory, the
standards of triumph waving betwixt earth and heaven. Ye are the
manifestations of steadfastness amidst men and the daysprings of Divine
Utterance to all that dwell on earth.

(The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, paragraph 173) [7]


8: “The Great Being saith: The man of consummate learning and the sage...”


The Great Being saith: The man of consummate learning and the sage endowed
with penetrating wisdom are the two eyes to the body of mankind. God
willing, the earth shall never be deprived of these two greatest gifts.

(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, p. 171) [8]


9: “Know thou that he is truly learned who hath acknowledged My
Revelation, and...”


Know thou that he is truly learned who hath acknowledged My Revelation,
and drunk from the Ocean of My knowledge, and soared in the atmosphere of
My love, and cast away all else besides Me, and taken firm hold on that
which hath been sent down from the Kingdom of My wondrous utterance. He,
verily, is even as an eye unto mankind, and as the spirit of life unto the
body of all creation. Glorified be the All-Merciful Who hath enlightened
him, and caused him to arise and serve His great and mighty Cause. Verily,
such a man is blessed by the Concourse on high, and by them who dwell
within the Tabernacle of Grandeur, who have quaffed My sealed Wine in My
name, the Omnipotent, the All-Powerful.

(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, pp. 207–208)
[9]


10: “Consider, how can he that faileth in the day of God’s Revelation...”


Consider, how can he that faileth in the day of God’s Revelation to attain
unto the grace of the “Divine Presence” and to recognize His
Manifestation, be justly called learned, though he may have spent aeons in
the pursuit of knowledge, and acquired all the limited and material
learning of men? It is surely evident that he can in no wise be regarded
as possessed of true knowledge. Whereas, the most unlettered of all men,
if he be honoured with this supreme distinction, he verily is accounted as
one of those divinely-learned men whose knowledge is of God; for such a
man hath attained the acme of knowledge, and hath reached the furthermost
summit of learning.

(“The Kitáb-i-Íqán” (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1983), pp.
145–146) [10]



From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


11: “...there are those famed and accomplished men of learning, possessed
of...”


...there are those famed and accomplished men of learning, possessed of
praiseworthy qualities and vast erudition, who lay hold on the strong
handle of the fear of God and keep to the ways of salvation. In the mirror
of their minds the forms of transcendent realities are reflected, and the
lamp of their inner vision derives its light from the sun of universal
knowledge. They are busy by night and by day with meticulous research into
such sciences as are profitable to mankind, and they devote themselves to
the training of students of capacity. It is certain that to their
discerning taste, the proffered treasures of kings would not compare with
a single drop of the waters of knowledge, and mountains of gold and silver
could not outweigh the successful solution of a difficult problem. To
them, the delights that lie outside their work are only toys for children,
and the cumbersome load of unnecessary possessions is only good for the
ignorant and base. Content, like the birds, they give thanks for a handful
of seeds, and the song of their wisdom dazzles the minds of the world’s
most wise....

...the happiness and greatness, the rank and station, the pleasure and
peace, of an individual have never consisted in his personal wealth, but
rather in his excellent character, his high resolve, the breadth of his
learning, and his ability to solve difficult problems....

For every thing, however, God has created a sign and symbol, and
established standards and tests by which it may be known. The spiritually
learned must be characterized by both inward and outward perfections; they
must possess a good character, an enlightened nature, a pure intent, as
well as intellectual power, brilliance and discernment, intuition,
discretion and foresight, temperance, reverance, and a heartfelt fear of
God. For an unlit candle, however great in diameter and tall, is no better
than a barren palm tree or a pile of dead wood....

An authoritative Tradition states: “As for him who is one of the
learned:(1) he must guard himself, defend his faith, oppose his passions
and obey the commandments of his Lord. It is then the duty of the people
to pattern themselves after him.”

(“The Secret of Divine Civilization” (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust,
1990), pp. 21–22; pp. 23–24; pp. 33–34) [11]



From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi


12: “In connection with the question as to whether Bahá’ís should be
familiar...”


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) [12]


13: “The Cause needs more Bahá’í scholars, people who not only are
devoted...”


The Cause needs more Bahá’í scholars, people who not only are devoted to
it and believe in it and are anxious to tell others about it, but also who
have a deep grasp of the Teachings and their significance, and who can
correlate its beliefs with the current thoughts and problems of the people
of the world.

(21 October 1943 to an individual believer) [13]



1.3 Scope of “Bahá’í Scholarship”



From a Letter Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice


14: “At this early stage in the development of the Faith, it would not...”


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:

The 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.

Thus, 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) [14]



1.4 Appreciation of Scholarship



From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh


15: “Respect ye the divines and learned amongst you, they whose conduct
accords...”


Respect ye the divines and learned amongst you, they whose conduct accords
with their professions, who transgress not the bounds which God hath
fixed, whose judgments are in conformity with His behests as revealed in
His Book. Know ye that they are the lamps of guidance unto them that are
in the heavens and on the earth. They who disregard and neglect the
divines and learned that live amongst them—these have truly changed the
favour with which God hath favoured them.

(“Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh” (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing
Trust, 1983), section LXVI) [15]


16: “O people of God! Righteous men of learning who dedicate themselves
to...”


O people of God! Righteous men of learning who dedicate themselves to the
guidance of others and are freed and well guarded from the promptings of a
base and covetous nature are, in the sight of Him Who is the Desire of the
world, stars of the heaven of true knowledge. It is essential to treat
them with deference. They are indeed fountains of soft-flowing water,
stars that shine resplendent, fruits of the blessed Tree, exponents of
celestial power, and oceans of heavenly wisdom. Happy is he that followeth
them. Verily such a soul is numbered in the Book of God, the Lord of the
mighty Throne, among those with whom it shall be well.

(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, pp. 96–97)
[16]


17: “Beware, O My loved ones, lest ye despise the merits of My learned
servants...”


Beware, O My loved ones, lest ye despise the merits of My learned servants
whom God hath graciously chosen to be the exponents of His Name “the
Fashioner” amidst mankind. Exert your utmost endeavour that ye may develop
such crafts and undertakings that everyone, whether young or old, may
benefit therefrom. We are quit of those ignorant ones who fondly imagine
that Wisdom is to give vent to one’s idle imaginings and to repudiate God,
the Lord of all men; even as We hear some of the heedless voicing such
assertions today.

(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, pp. 150–151)
[17]



From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


18: “...the religion of God is the promoter of truth, the founder of
science and...”


...the religion of God is the promoter of truth, the founder of science
and knowledge, it is full of goodwill for learned men; it is the civilizer
of mankind, the discoverer of the secrets of nature, and the enlightener
of the horizons of the world. Consequently, how can it be said to oppose
knowledge? God forbid! Nay, for God, knowledge is the most glorious gift
of man and the most noble of human perfections. To oppose knowledge is
ignorant, and he who detests knowledge and science is not a man, but
rather an animal without intelligence. For knowledge is light, life,
felicity, perfection, beauty and the means of approaching the Threshold of
Unity. It is the honour and glory of the world of humanity, and the
greatest bounty of God. Knowledge is identical with guidance, and
ignorance is real error.

(“Some Answered Questions” (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1984), p.
137) [18]


19: “There are certain pillars which have been established as the
unshakeable...”


There are certain pillars which have been established as the unshakeable
supports of the Faith of God. The mightiest of these is learning and the
use of the mind, the expansion of consciousness, and insight into the
realities of the universe and the hidden mysteries of Almighty God.

To promote knowledge is thus an inescapable duty imposed on every one of
the friends of God. It is incumbent upon that Spiritual Assembly, that
assemblage of God, to exert every effort to educate the children, so that
from infancy they will be trained in Bahá’í conduct and the ways of God,
and will, even as young plants, thrive and flourish in the soft-flowing
waters that are the counsels and admonitions of the Blessed Beauty.

(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá” (Haifa: Bahá’í World
Centre, 1982), section 97) [19]



From a Letter Written by Shoghi Effendi


20: “The responsibilities of the members of the Spiritual Assemblies that
are...”


The responsibilities of the members of the Spiritual Assemblies that are
engaged in teaching the Cause of God in Eastern lands have been clearly
laid down in the holy Texts....

They further impress upon them the virtue of trustworthiness and
godliness, of purity of motive, kindliness of heart, and detachment from
the fetters of this material world.... They urge them to make detailed
inquiry into the various branches of contemporary learning—arts and
sciences alike—and to concentrate their attention on serving the general
interests of the people; to deepen themselves by attentive study of the
sacred Texts, and to apply the divine guidance they contain to the
circumstances, needs and conditions of society today; to refrain from
entering into the tangled affairs of political parties and to have neither
concern for, nor involvement in, the controversies of politicians, the
wranglings of theologians or any of the ailing social theories current
amongst men.

They finally exhort them to be sincerely obedient, in both thought and
word, to the laws duly enacted by the government of the realm, and to
distance themselves from the methods, concepts and ill-grounded arguments
of extreme traditionalists and modernists alike; to accord honour,
veneration and respect to—and endorse the efforts of—exponents of the arts
and sciences, and to esteem and revere those who are possessed of
extensive knowledge and scholarly erudition; to uphold the right of
freedom of conscience; and to abstain from criticizing and disparaging the
manners, customs and beliefs of other individuals, peoples and nations.

(30 January 1926 to the Spiritual Assemblies in Iran, translated from the
Persian) [20]



2. FUNCTIONS OF BAHÁ’Í SCHOLARSHIP



2.1 Promotion of Human Welfare



From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh


21: “The Great Being saith: The learned of the day must direct the people
to...”


The Great Being saith: The learned of the day must direct the people to
acquire those branches of knowledge which are of use, that both the
learned themselves and the generality of mankind may derive benefits
therefrom. Such academic pursuits as begin and end in words alone have
never been and will never be of any worth. The majority of Persia’s
learned doctors devote all their lives to the study of a philosophy the
ultimate yield of which is nothing but words.

(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, p. 169) [21]


22: “True learning is that which is conducive to the well-being of the
world, not...”


True learning is that which is conducive to the well-being of the world,
not to pride and self-conceit, or to tyranny, violence and pillage.

(From a Tablet, translated from the Persian) [22]



From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


23: “The primary, the most urgent requirement is the promotion of
education....”


The primary, the most urgent requirement is the promotion of education. It
is inconceivable that any nation should achieve prosperity and success
unless this paramount, this fundamental concern is carried forward. The
principal reason for the decline and fall of peoples is ignorance. Today
the mass of the people are uninformed even as to ordinary affairs, how
much less do they grasp the core of the important problems and complex
needs of the time.

It is therefore urgent that beneficial articles and books be written,
clearly and definitely establishing what the present-day requirements of
the people are, and what will conduce to the happiness and advancement of
society. These should be published and spread throughout the nation, so
that at least the leaders among the people should become, to some degree,
awakened, and arise to exert themselves along those lines which will lead
to their abiding honour. The publication of high thoughts is the dynamic
power in the arteries of life; it is the very soul of the world. Thoughts
are boundless sea, and the effects and varying conditions of existence are
as the separate forms and individual limits of the waves; not until the
sea boils up will the waves rise and scatter their pearls of knowledge on
the shore of life....

Public opinion must be directed toward whatever is worthy of this day, and
this is impossible except through the use of adequate arguments and the
adducing of clear, comprehensive and conclusive proofs. For the helpless
masses know nothing of the world, and while there is no doubt that they
seek and long for their own happiness, yet ignorance like a heavy veil
shuts them away from it....

It is, furthermore, a vital necessity to establish schools.... If
necessary, education should even be made compulsory. Until the nerves and
arteries of the nation stir into life, every measure that is attempted
will prove vain; for the people are as the human body, and determination
and the will to struggle are as the soul, and a soulless body does not
move.

(“The Secret of Divine Civilization”, pp. 109–110; pp. 111–112) [23]



From a Letter Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi


24: “The news of the co-operation of the Bahá’í young men and women in...”


The news of the co-operation of the Bahá’í young men and women in
Montreal, their establishment of a group for study and discussion, the
sane and sober expression of their methods as expressed in the programme
you had enclosed, and their thoughtful and enthusiastic outlook upon the
future, all these have helped to create the liveliest hopes and the
deepest satisfaction in the heart of our Guardian. It is indeed with no
little pleasure that he welcomes the active co-operation of his young
friends in Montreal, and he sincerely trusts that with an adequate study
of the proper teachings and their spiritual significance coupled with a
sufficient knowledge of the problems and perplexities that the world is
beset with, you will be able to render great services to the Cause and
therefore to humanity.

(20 March 1929 to an individual believer) [24]



From a Letter of the Universal House of Justice


25: “The further emergence of the Faith from obscurity is reflected in
distinctive...”


The further emergence of the Faith from obscurity is reflected in
distinctive ways. In learned circles, in reference works and in the media,
the Faith is increasingly being referred to as a “principal” or “major”
world religion.... The exposure of influential segments of the public to
Bahá’í ideas in such areas as peace, the environment, status of women,
education and literacy, has induced a response which increasingly calls
upon the Bahá’ís to participate with others in a range of projects
associated with governments or with non-governmental organizations.

Moreover, such exposure is creating in the public mind the realization
that the Faith has answers to current problems and thus the expectation
that the Bahá’í community should take a more active part in public
affairs....

...Bahá’í projects of social and economic development have greatly
multiplied and brought much credit to the community in the examples of the
power of group initiative and voluntary consultative action that have been
set in numerous places.... Some projects have been so distinguished in
their achievements as to be given public notice through the citations and
awards of governments and international non-governmental agencies.

(Ridván 1992 to the Bahá’ís of the World) [25]



2.2 Defence of the Faith



From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh


26: “If any man were to arise to defend, in his writings, the Cause of God
against...”


If any man were to arise to defend, in his writings, the Cause of God
against its assailants, such a man, however inconsiderable his share,
shall be so honoured in the world to come that the Concourse on high would
envy his glory. No pen can depict the loftiness of his station, neither
can any tongue describe its splendour. For whosoever standeth firm and
steadfast in this holy, this glorious, and exalted Revelation, such power
shall be given him as to enable him to face and withstand all that is in
heaven and on earth. Of this God is Himself a witness.

(“Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh”, section CLIV) [26]



From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


27: “The second of these spiritual standards which apply to the possessor
of...”


The second of these spiritual standards which apply to the possessor of
knowledge is that he should be the defender of his faith. It is obvious
that these holy words do not refer exclusively to searching out the
implications of the Law, observing the forms of worship, avoiding greater
and lesser sins, practicing the religious ordinances, and by all these
methods, protecting the Faith. They mean rather that the whole population
should be protected in every way; that every effort should be exerted to
adopt a combination of all possible measures to raise up the Word of God,
increase the number of believers, promote the Faith of God and exalt it
and make it victorious over other religions.

(“The Secret of Divine Civilization”, p. 41) [27]



From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi


28: “Shoghi Effendi was delighted to hear of your conversation with Sir
.......”


Shoghi Effendi was delighted to hear of your conversation with Sir ....
How much he hopes to have such scholars obtain a true understanding of the
spirit and teaching of the Cause and arise to dissipate that veil of
misconceptions that is prejudicing the mind of the scholars in the western
world. The Cause is in great need for such competent and spiritually
minded men who after a thorough study of the Movement would share with the
world the fruit of their labours.

(11 March 1929 to an individual believer) [28]


29: “There is an answer in the teachings for everything; unfortunately
the...”


There is an answer in the teachings for everything; unfortunately the
majority of the Bahá’ís, however intensely devoted and sincere they may
be, lack for the most part the necessary scholarship and wisdom to reply
to and refute the claims and attacks of people with some education and
standing.

(25 September 1942 to an individual believer) [29]



2.3 Expansion and Consolidation of the Bahá’í Community



From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


30: “Pure souls, such as Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl, upon him be the Glory of
God,...”


Pure souls, such as Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl, upon him be the Glory of God, spend
their nights and days in demonstrating the truth of the Revelation, by
adducing conclusive and brilliant proofs and expanding the verities of the
Faith, by lifting the veils, promoting the religion of God and spreading
His fragrances.

(From a Tablet, translated from the Persian) [30]



From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi


31: “We had heard through various channels the wonderful way your children
had...”


We had heard through various channels the wonderful way your children had
grown to speak about the Cause in public. Shoghi Effendi’s hope is that
they will, the three of them, become able and devoted speakers on the
Cause and subjects akin to it. To do this properly they will need a firm
foundation of scientific and literary training which fortunately they are
obtaining. It is just as important for the Bahá’í young boys and girls to
become properly educated in colleges of high standing as it is to be
spiritually developed. The mental as well as the spiritual side of the
youth has to be developed before he can serve the Cause efficiently.

(28 November 1926 to an individual believer) [31]


32: “The university training which you are receiving at present will be of
immense...”


The university training which you are receiving at present will be of
immense help to you in your efforts to present the Message in intellectual
circles. In these days when people are so sceptical about religion and
look with so much contempt towards religious organizations and movements,
there seems to be more need than ever for our young Bahá’ís to be well
equipped intellectually, so that they may be in a position to present the
Message in a befitting way, and in a manner that would convince every
unbiased observer of the effectiveness and power of the Teachings.

(5 May 1934 to an individual believer) [32]


33: “Young men and women in the Faith must be deep and thoughtful scholars
of its...”


Young men and women in the Faith must be deep and thoughtful scholars of
its teachings, so that they can teach in a way that will convince people
that all the problems facing them have a remedy. They must grasp the
Administration, so that they can wisely and efficiently administer the
ever-growing affairs of the Cause; and they must exemplify the Bahá’í way
of living. All this is not easy—but the Guardian is always encouraged to
see the spirit animating such young believers as yourself. He has high
hopes of what your generation will accomplish.

(12 May 1944 to an individual believer) [33]


34: “If the Bahá’ís want to be really effective in teaching the Cause they
need to...”


If the Bahá’ís want to be really effective in teaching the Cause they need
to be much better informed and able to discuss intelligently,
intellectually, the present condition of the world and its problems. We
need Bahá’í scholars, not only people far, far more deeply aware of what
our teachings really are, but also well-read and well-educated people,
capable of correlating our teachings to the current thoughts of the
leaders of society.

We Bahá’ís should, in other words, arm our minds with knowledge in order
to better demonstrate to, especially, the educated classes, the truths
enshrined in our Faith.

(5 July 1949 to an individual believer) [34]



From a Letter Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice


35: “The Universal House of Justice ... regards Bahá’í scholarship as
of...”


The Universal House of Justice ... regards Bahá’í scholarship as of great
potential importance for the development and consolidation of the Bahá’í
community as it emerges from obscurity....

(3 January 1979 to participants in an academic seminar) [35]



2.4 Contribution to Scholarly Development



From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi


36: “He was very happy to hear from you, and to see with what keen
appreciation...”


He was very happy to hear from you, and to see with what keen appreciation
and interest you are studying the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. One could
truly say that the longer one studies them, the more one finds in them.
They are the very essence from which thinkers and scientists and
humanitarians of the future will derive inspiration and guidance for their
work.

(10 December 1942 to a Bahá’í summer school) [36]


37: “Regarding the advice you requested from him concerning what studies
you...”


Regarding the advice you requested from him concerning what studies you
should specialize in with a view to teaching in the future: He would
suggest either History, Economics or Sociology, as these are not only
fields in which Bahá’ís take a great interest but also cover subjects
which our teachings cast an entirely new light upon. Your knowledge would
be of use to the Cause in teaching it in the future, and you could also
perhaps introduce the Bahá’í ideas into your lectures as an educator.

(13 March 1944 to an individual believer) [37]



From Letters Written by or on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice


38: “You are already a qualified practitioner in your field, and no doubt
you...”


You are already a qualified practitioner in your field, and no doubt you
give advice on the basis of what you have learned from study and
experience—a whole fabric of concepts about the human mind, its growth,
development and proper functioning, which you have learned and evolved
without reference to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. Now, as a Bahá’í, you
know that what Bahá’u’lláh teaches about the purpose of human life, the
nature of the human being and the proper conduct of human lives, is
divinely revealed and therefore true. However, it will inevitably take
time for you not only to study the Bahá’í teachings so that you clearly
understand them, but also to work out how they modify your professional
concepts. This is, of course, not an unusual predicament for a scientist.
How often in the course of research is a factor discovered which requires
a revolution in thinking over a wide field of human endeavour. You must be
guided in each case by your own professional knowledge and judgement as
illuminated by your growing knowledge of the Bahá’í teachings; undoubtedly
you will find that your own understanding of the human problems dealt with
in your work will change and develop and you will see new and improved
ways of helping the people who come to you. Psychology is still a very
young and inexact science, and as the years go by Bahá’í psychologists,
who know from the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh the true pattern of human life,
will be able to make great strides in the development of this science, and
will help profoundly in the alleviation of human suffering.

(6 February 1973, published in “Messages from the Universal House of
Justice, 1968–1973” (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1976), pp.
111–112) [38]


39: “As the Bahá’í community grows it will acquire experts in numerous
fields...”


As the Bahá’í community grows it will acquire experts in numerous
fields—both by Bahá’ís becoming experts and by experts becoming Bahá’ís.
As these experts bring their knowledge and skill to the service of the
community and, even more, as they transform their various disciplines by
bringing to bear upon them the light of the Divine Teachings, problem
after problem now disrupting society will be answered....

Paralleling this process, Bahá’í institutional life will also be
developing, and as it does so the Assemblies will draw increasingly upon
scientific and expert knowledge—whether of Bahá’ís or of non-Bahá’ís—to
assist in solving the problems of their communities.

In time great Bahá’í institutions of learning, great international and
national projects for the betterment of human life will be inaugurated and
flourish.

(21 August 1977 on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an
individual believer) [39]


40: “Indeed, let them [the Bahá’í youth] welcome with confidence the
challenges...”


Indeed, let them [the Bahá’í youth] welcome with confidence the challenges
awaiting them. Imbued with this excellence and a corresponding humility,
with tenacity and a loving servitude, today’s youth must move towards the
front ranks of the professions, trades, arts and crafts which are
necessary to the further progress of humankind—this to ensure that the
spirit of the Cause will cast its illumination on all these important
areas of human endeavour. Moreover, while aiming at mastering the unifying
concepts and swiftly advancing technologies of this era of communications,
they can, indeed they must, also guarantee the transmittal to the future
of those skills which will preserve the marvelous, indispensable
achievements of the past. The transformation which is to occur in the
functioning of society will certainly depend to a great extent on the
effectiveness of the preparations the youth make for the world they will
inherit.

(8 May 1985 from the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá’í Youth of the
World) [40]


41: “The House of Justice recognizes that the questions you raise,
concerning...”


The House of Justice recognizes that the questions you raise, concerning
the offer of newly enrolled professionals to share their views with the
Bahá’í community, are of vital and timely importance, especially as the
Faith emerges from obscurity and increasing numbers of professionals from
all walks of life are attracted to its Teachings. The process of
integrating these experts into Bahá’í communities as well-grounded
believers and tapping their potential as promoters and supporters of the
Cause will require patient and loving guidance by Bahá’í institutions. A
great challenge will be to avoid undue disruption of this process of
integration by abandoning such persons to the insensitive attitudes still
present in communities not yet broadly diverse or accustomed to dealing
with all ranks of society.

Scholars and professionals are well accustomed to encountering new facts
in the course of their research which require them to adjust previous
thinking on various aspects of their discipline. In the case of their
deepening in the Teachings of the Faith it naturally takes time for them
to study and absorb so many new concepts. They must be assisted to
acquire, as quickly as possible, profound knowledge of the Teachings.
Gradually this knowledge will shed new light on their previous views. At
the same time, Bahá’í communities will need to develop greater tolerance
toward ideas that may not coincide with their current understanding, and
remain open to new insights....

Newly enrolled professionals and other experts provide a great resource
for the development of Bahá’í scholarship. It is hoped that, as they
attain a deeper grasp of the Teachings and their significance, they will
be able to assist Bahá’í communities in correlating the beliefs of the
Faith with the current thoughts and problems of the world. In some
instances Bahá’ís of a particular profession have come together in special
conferences or organized themselves into an association for this purpose.
This also allows them to support one another as Bahá’ís and to take
advantage of their professional status to promote the interests of the
Faith. Current examples of professional associations of this type are the
Bahá’í Justice Society and the Bahá’í Medical Association, both in the
United States. Special encouragement should therefore be given to
believers of unusual capacity to consecrate their abilities to the service
of the Cause through the unique contribution they can make to this rapidly
developing field of Bahá’í endeavour.

(18 April 1989 on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National
Spiritual Assembly) [41]



3. GENERAL PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES



3.1 Spiritual Foundation



From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh


42: “Therefore, hath it been said: “Knowledge is a light which God casteth
into...”


Therefore, hath it been said: “Knowledge is a light which God casteth into
the heart of whomsoever He willeth.” It is this kind of knowledge which is
and hath ever been praiseworthy, and not the limited knowledge that hath
sprung forth from veiled and obscured minds. This limited knowledge they
even stealthily borrow one from the other, and vainly pride themselves
therein!

(“The Kitáb-i-Íqán”, p. 46) [42]


43: “We have decreed, O people, that the highest and last end of all
learning...”


We have decreed, O people, that the highest and last end of all learning
be the recognition of Him Who is the Object of all knowledge; and yet,
behold how ye have allowed your learning to shut you out, as by a veil,
from Him Who is the Dayspring of this Light, through Whom every hidden
thing hath been revealed.

(The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, paragraph 102) [43]



From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


44: “Although to acquire the sciences and arts is the greatest glory
of...”


Although to acquire the sciences and arts is the greatest glory of
mankind, this is so only on condition that man’s river floweth into the
mighty Sea, and draweth from God’s ancient source His inspiration. When
this cometh to pass, then every teacher is as a shoreless ocean, every
pupil a prodigal fountain of knowledge. If, then, the pursuit of knowledge
leadeth to the beauty of Him Who is the object of all knowledge, how
excellent that goal; but if not, a mere drop will perhaps shut a man off
from flooding grace, for with learning cometh arrogance and pride, and it
bringeth on error and indifference to God.

The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if then they lead not to
reality, naught remains but fruitless illusion. By the one true God! If
learning be not a means of access to Him, the Most Manifest, it is nothing
but evident loss.

(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, section 72) [44]


45: “And every branch of learning, conjoined with the love of God, is
approved...”


And every branch of learning, conjoined with the love of God, is approved
and worthy of praise; but bereft of His love, learning is barren—indeed,
it bringeth on madness. Every kind of knowledge, every science, is as a
tree: if the fruit of it be the love of God, then is it a blessed tree,
but if not, that tree is but dried-up wood, and shall only feed the fire.

(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, section 154) [45]


46: “Scientific knowledge is the highest attainment upon the human
plane,...”


Scientific knowledge is the highest attainment upon the human plane, for
science is the discoverer of realities. It is of two kinds: material and
spiritual. Material science is the investigation of natural phenomena;
divine science is the discovery and realization of spiritual verities. The
world of humanity must acquire both. A bird has two wings; it cannot fly
with one. Material and spiritual science are the two wings of human uplift
and attainment. Both are necessary—one the natural, the other
supernatural; one material, the other divine. By the divine we mean the
discovery of the mysteries of God, the comprehension of spiritual
realities, the wisdom of God, inner significances of the heavenly
religions and foundation of the law.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace”, p. 138) [46]



From a Letter Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi


47: “Between the truth which comes from God through His Prophets, and
the...”


Between the truth which comes from God through His Prophets, and the
glimmerings, often misunderstood and misinterpreted, of truth which come
from the philosophers and thinkers, there is an immense difference. We
must never, under any circumstances, confuse the two.

Bahá’u’lláh has said that learning can be the veil between the soul of man
and the eternal truth; in other words, between man and the knowledge of
God. We have seen that many people who become very advanced in the study
of modern physical sciences are led to deny God, and to deny His Prophets.
That does not mean that God and the Prophets have not existed and do not
exist. It only means that knowledge has become a veil between their hearts
and the light of God.

(22 April 1954 to an individual believer) [47]



From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice


48: “Just as there is a fundamental difference between divine Revelation
itself...”


Just as there is a fundamental difference between divine Revelation itself
and the understanding that believers have of it, so also there is a basic
distinction between scientific fact and reasoning on the one hand and the
conclusions or theories of scientists on the other. There is, and can be,
no conflict between true religion and true science: true religion is
revealed by God, while it is through true science that the mind of man
“discovers the realities of things and becomes cognizant of their
peculiarities and effects, and of the qualities and properties of beings”
and “comprehendeth the abstract by the aid of the concrete”. However,
whenever a statement is made through the lens of human understanding it is
thereby limited, for human understanding is limited; and where there is
limitation there is the possibility of error; and where there is error,
conflicts can arise. For example, at the present time many people are
convinced that it is unscientific to believe in God, but, as human
enlightenment progresses, the scientists and philosophers of the future
will not be, in the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “deniers of the Prophets,
ignorant of spiritual susceptibilities, deprived of the heavenly bounties
and without belief in the supernatural”.

(26 December 1975 to an individual believer) [48]


49: “The combination of absolute loyalty to the Manifestation of God
and...”


The combination of absolute loyalty to the Manifestation of God and His
Teachings, with the searching and intelligent study of the Teachings and
history of the Faith which those Teachings themselves enjoin, is a
particular strength of this Dispensation. In past Dispensations the
believers have tended to divide into two mutually antagonistic groups:
those who held blindly to the letter of the Revelation, and those who
questioned and doubted everything. Like all extremes, both these can lead
into error. The beloved Guardian has written that “The Bahá’í Faith ...
enjoins upon its followers the primary duty of an unfettered search after
truth....” Bahá’ís are called upon to follow the Faith with intelligence
and understanding. Inevitably believers will commit errors as they strive
to rise to this degree of maturity, and this calls for forbearance and
humility on the part of all concerned, so that such matters do not cause
disunity or discord among the friends.

(7 October 1980 to an individual believer) [49]


50: “The House of Justice suggests that the issues raised in your
letter...”


The House of Justice suggests that the issues raised in your letter might
best be considered in light of the statements in the Bahá’í Writings which
disclose the relationship between the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh and the
knowledge which is acquired as a result of scholarly endeavours.
Bahá’u’lláh asserts that:

Unveiled and unconcealed, this Wronged One hath, at all times, proclaimed
before the face of all the peoples of the world that which will serve as
the key for unlocking the doors of sciences, of arts, of knowledge, of
well-being, of prosperity and wealth....

It is evident that the Bahá’í Writings illuminate all areas of human
endeavour and all academic disciplines. Those who have been privileged to
recognize the station of Bahá’u’lláh have the bounty of access to a
Revelation which casts light upon all aspects of thought and inquiry, and
are enjoined to use the understanding which they obtain from their
immersion in the Holy Writings to advance the interests of the Faith.

Those believers with the capacity and opportunity to do so have repeatedly
been encouraged in their pursuit of academic studies by which they are not
only equipped to render much needed services to the Faith, but are also
provided with the means to acquire a profound insight into the meaning and
the implications of the Bahá’í Teachings. They discover also that the
perceptions gained from a deeper understanding of the Revelation of
Bahá’u’lláh clarify the subjects of their academic inquiry.

It is useful to review a number of statements written by Shoghi Effendi on
this subject. To a believer who had completed advanced academic studies in
a subject related to the Teachings the Guardian stated, in a letter
written on his behalf:

It is hoped that all the Bahá’í students will follow the noble example you
have set before them and will, henceforth, be led to investigate and
analyse the principles of the Faith and to correlate them with the modern
aspects of philosophy and science. Every intelligent and thoughtful young
Bahá’í should always approach the Cause in this way, for therein lies the
very essence of the principle of independent investigation of truth.

When he was informed of the enrolment of a scientist in the Faith, the
response set out in the letter written on his behalf was:

We need very much the sound, sane, element of thinking which a
scientifically trained mind has to offer. When such intellectual powers
are linked to deep faith a tremendous teaching potential is created....

His secretary wrote, on another occasion, that:

Shoghi Effendi has for years urged the Bahá’ís (who asked his advice, and
in general also) to study history, economics, sociology, etc., in order to
be au courant with all the progressive movements and thoughts being put
forth today, and so that they could correlate these to the Bahá’í
teachings. What he wants the Bahá’ís to do is to study more, not to study
less. The more general knowledge, scientific and otherwise, they possess,
the better. Likewise he is constantly urging them to really study the
Bahá’í teachings more deeply.

In the simultaneous endeavour to pursue their studies and to delve deeply
into the Bahá’í Teachings, believers are enjoined to maintain a keen
awareness that the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh is the standard of truth
against which all other views and conclusions are to be measured. They are
urged to be modest about their accomplishments, and to bear in mind always
the statement of Bahá’u’lláh that:

The heart must needs therefore be cleansed from the idle sayings of men,
and sanctified from every earthly affection, so that it may discover the
hidden meaning of divine inspiration, and become the treasury of the
mysteries of divine knowledge.

(19 October 1993 to an individual believer) [50]



3.2 “Useful” Sciences



From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh


51: “It is permissible to study sciences and arts, but such sciences as
are...”


It is permissible to study sciences and arts, but such sciences as are
useful and would redound to the progress and advancement of the people.
Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the Ordainer, the All-Wise.

(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, p. 26) [51]



From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


52: “The individual should, prior to engaging in the study of any subject,
ask...”


The individual should, prior to engaging in the study of any subject, ask
himself what its uses are and what fruit and result will derive from it.
If it is a useful branch of knowledge, that is, if society will gain
important benefits from it, then he should certainly pursue it with all
his heart. If not, if it consists in empty, profitless debates and in a
vain concatenation of imaginings that lead to no result except acrimony,
why devote one’s life to such useless hairsplittings and disputes.

(“The Secret of Divine Civilization”, p. 106) [52]



From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi


53: “The choice you have made for your course of study is surely most...”


The choice you have made for your course of study is surely most
interesting and will be of inestimable service in your work for the Cause.
Even though every branch of study will have some interest for a Bahá’í who
is looking how the spirit of the Cause and of the the new age is awakening
the minds, yet a study of the condition of society will better show us the
needs of the world, hence the part that the Teachings can play in
satisfying them.

(5 January 1930 to an individual believer) [53]


54: “Philosophy, as you will study it and later teach it, is certainly
not...”


Philosophy, as you will study it and later teach it, is certainly not one
of the sciences that begins and ends in words. Fruitless excursions into
metaphysical hair-splittings is meant, not a sound branch of learning like
philosophy....

As regards your own studies: he would advise you not to devote too much of
your time to the abstract side of philosophy, but rather to approach it
from a more historical angle. As to correlating philosophy with the Bahá’í
teachings: this is a tremendous work which scholars in the future can
undertake. We must remember that not only are all the teachings not yet
translated into English, but they are not even all collected yet. Many
important Tablets may still come to light which are at present owned
privately.

(15 February 1947 to an individual believer) [54]



From a Letter Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice


55: “In response to your letter of ... in which you seek guidance on
the...”


In response to your letter of ... in which you seek guidance on the
question of chosen professions vis-á-vis the statement of Bahá’u’lláh
concerning sciences which begin in words and end in mere words and the
pursuit of study in pure mathematics and the classics, the Universal House
of Justice has instructed us to share with you an excerpt from a letter to
an individual believer written in 1947 on behalf of the beloved Guardian:
Philosophy, as you will study it and later teach it, is certainly not one
of the sciences that begins and ends in words. Fruitless excursions into
metaphysical hair-splittings is meant, not a sound branch of learning like
philosophy.

In these words the Guardian has enunciated the general principle. Turning
to the specific instance of the science of pure mathematics, the reference
in the Eleventh Glad Tidings (Bahá’í World Faith, p. 195) regarding such
sciences as are profitable, which lead and conduce to the elevation of
mankind,(2) must be placed in the context of the meaning of sciences as
employed by the Manifestation. Bahá’u’lláh’s comment about sciences which
begin and end in mere words does not apply to the systematic study of
natural phenomena in order to discover the laws of order in the physical
universe, an order which mathematics seeks to explore. Pure mathematics
frequently has application in practical matters, such as, for example,
group theory or the study of fundamental particles.

As for classical studies, we are to share with you the following excerpt
from a letter dated 30 November 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi
to an individual who had asked a question about the skills of story
writing and whether such occupation would be classed as those sciences
that begin and end in words”.

What Bahá’u’lláh meant primarily with “sciences that begin and end in
words” are those theological treatises and commentaries that encumber the
human mind rather than help it to attain the truth. The students would
devote their life to their study but still attain no where.

Bahá’u’lláh surely never meant to include story-writing under such a
category; and shorthand and typewriting are both most useful talents, very
necessary in our present social and economic life.

What you could do, and should do, is to use your stories to become a
source of inspiration and guidance for those who read them. With such a
means at your disposal you can spread the spirit and teachings of the
Cause; you can show the evils that exist in society, as well as the way
they can be remedied. If you possess a real talent in writing you should
consider it as given by God and exert your efforts to use it for the
betterment of society.

The House of Justice hopes that you will be able to satisfy your friends
on these matters and encourage them to prepare for their Bahá’í service
and be able to contribute to the welfare of humanity.

(24 May 1988 to an individual believer) [55]



3.3 Attitudes of the Scholar



From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh


56: “Amongst the people is he whose learning hath made him proud, and who
hath...”


Amongst the people is he whose learning hath made him proud, and who hath
been debarred thereby from recognizing My Name, the Self-Subsisting; who,
when he heareth the tread of sandals following behind him, waxeth greater
in his own esteem than Nimrod. Say: O rejected one! Where now is his
abode? By God, it is the nethermost fire. Say: O concourse of divines!
Hear ye not the shrill voice of My Most Exalted Pen? See ye not this Sun
that shineth in refulgent splendour above the All-Glorious Horizon? For
how long will ye worship the idols of your evil passions? Forsake your
vain imaginings, and turn yourselves unto God, your Everlasting Lord.

(The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, paragraph 41) [56]


57: “Show forbearance and benevolence and love to one another. Should
any...”


Show forbearance and benevolence and love to one another. Should any one
among you be incapable of grasping a certain truth, or be striving to
comprehend it, show forth, when conversing with him, a spirit of extreme
kindliness and good-will. Help him to see and recognize the truth, without
esteeming yourself to be, in the least, superior to him, or to be
possessed of greater endowments.

(“Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh”, section V) [57]


58: “Beware lest ye contend with any one, nay, strive to make him aware of
the truth...”


Beware lest ye contend with any one, nay, strive to make him aware of the
truth with kindly manner and most convincing exhortation. If your hearer
respond, he will have responded to his own behoof, and if not, turn ye
away from him, and set your faces towards God’s sacred Court, the seat of
resplendent holiness.

Dispute not with any one concerning the things of this world and its
affairs, for God hath abandoned them to such as have set their affection
upon them.

(“Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh”, section CXXVIII) [58]


59: “Warn, O Salmán, the beloved of the one true God, not to view with
too...”


Warn, O Salmán, the beloved of the one true God, not to view with too
critical an eye the sayings and writings of men. Let them rather approach
such sayings and writings in a spirit of open-mindedness and loving
sympathy. Those men, however, who, in this Day, have been led to assail,
in their inflammatory writings, the tenets of the Cause of God, are to be
treated differently. It is incumbent upon all men, each according to his
ability, to refute the arguments of those that have attacked the Faith of
God. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the All-Powerful, the
Almighty.

(“Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh”, section CLIV) [59]



From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


60: “Good behaviour and high moral character must come first, for unless
the...”


Good behaviour and high moral character must come first, for unless the
character be trained, acquiring knowledge will only prove injurious.
Knowledge is praiseworthy when it is coupled with ethical conduct and
virtuous character; otherwise it is a deadly poison, a frightful danger. A
physician of evil character, and who betrayeth his trust, can bring on
death, and become the source of numerous infirmities and diseases.

(From a Tablet, translated from the Persian) [60]



From Letters Written by or on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice


61: “...the believers must recognize the importance of intellectual
honesty and...”


...the believers must recognize the importance of intellectual honesty and
humility. In past dispensations many errors arose because the believers in
God’s Revelation were over-anxious to encompass the Divine Message within
the framework of their limited understanding, to define doctrines where
definition was beyond their power, to explain mysteries which only the
wisdom and experience of a later age would make comprehensible, to argue
that something was true because it appeared desirable and necessary. Such
compromises with essential truth, such intellectual pride, we must
scrupulously avoid.

(27 May 1966, published in “Wellspring of Guidance: Messages 1963–1968”
(Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1976), pp. 87–88) [61]


62: “When studying at school or university Bahá’í youth will often
find...”


When studying at school or university Bahá’í youth will often find
themselves in the unusual and slightly embarrassing position of having a
more profound insight into a subject than their instructors. The Teachings
of Bahá’u’lláh throw light on so many aspects of human life and knowledge
that a Bahá’í must learn, earlier than most, to weigh the information that
is given to him rather than to accept it blindly. A Bahá’í has the
advantage of the divine Revelation for this Age, which shines like a
searchlight on so many problems that baffle modern thinkers; he must
therefore develop the ability to learn everything from those around him,
showing proper humility before his teachers, but always relating what he
hears to the Bahá’í teachings, for they will enable him to sort out the
gold from the dross of human error.

(10 June 1966 to Bahá’í Youth in every Land, published in “Wellspring of
Guidance: Messages 1963–1968”, pp. 95–96) [62]


63: “The House of Justice agrees that it is most important for the
believers,...”


The House of Justice agrees that it is most important for the believers,
and especially those who hold positions of responsibility in the
Administrative Order, to react calmly and with tolerant and enquiring
minds to views which differ from their own, remembering that all Bahá’ís
are but students of the Faith, ever striving to understand the Teachings
more clearly and to apply them more faithfully, and none can claim to have
a perfect understanding of this Revelation. At the same time all
believers, and scholars in particular, should remember the many warnings
in the Writings against the fomenting of discord among the friends. It is
the duty of the institutions of the Faith to guard the community against
such dangers.... [I]t cannot be denied that some of the statements that
have been made recently in the name of Bahá’í scholarship by certain
individuals have betrayed an intemperance, and a lack of appreciation of
many of the fundamental teachings of the Faith, that would understandably
arouse alarm in the breasts of the most tolerant of believers.

(18 July 1979 on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual
believer) [63]


64: “The House of Justice feels that Bahá’í scholars must beware of
the...”


The House of Justice feels that Bahá’í scholars must beware of the
temptations of intellectual pride. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has warned the friends in
the West that they would be subjected to intellectual tests, and the
Guardian reminded them of this warning. There are many aspects of western
thinking which have been exalted to a status of unassailable principle in
the general mind, that time may well show to have been erroneous or, at
least, only partially true. Any Bahá’í who rises to eminence in academic
circles will be exposed to the powerful influence of such thinking. One of
the problems of modern times is the degree to which the different
disciplines have become specialized and isolated from one another.
Thinkers are now faced with a challenge to achieve a synthesis, or at
least a coherent correlation, of the vast amount of knowledge that has
been acquired during the past century. The Bahá’ís must be aware of this
factor and of the moderation and all-embracing nature of this
Revelation....

In the application of the social laws of the Faith, most of the also from
the actions of those who, while careful to observe the letter of the
difficulties can be seen to arise not only from outright disobedience, but
law, try to go as far as it will permit them away from the spirit which
lies at its heart. A similar tendency can be noted among some Bahá’í
scholars. The great advances in knowledge and understanding in the vital
field of Bahá’í scholarship will be made by those who, while well versed
in their subjects and adhering to the principles of research, are also
thoroughly imbued with love for the Faith and the determination to grow in
the comprehension of its teachings.

(23 March 1983 on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an
individual believer) [64]



3.4 Methodological Issues



65: “Weigh not the Book of God with such standards and sciences as are
current...”


Weigh not the Book of God with such standards and sciences as are current
amongst you, for the Book itself is the unerring Balance established
amongst men. In this most perfect Balance whatsoever the peoples and
kindreds of the earth possess must be weighed, while the measure of its
weight should be tested according to its own standard, did ye but know it.

(The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, paragraph 99) [65]



66: “When the eyes of the people of the East were captivated by the
arts...”


When the eyes of the people of the East were captivated by the arts and
wonders of the West, they roved distraught in the wilderness of material
causes, oblivious of the One Who is the Causer of Causes, and the
Sustainer thereof, while such men as were the source and the wellspring of
Wisdom never denied the moving Impulse behind these causes, nor the
Creator or the Origin thereof. Thy Lord knoweth, yet most of the people
know not.

(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, p. 144) [66]



From the Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá



67: “There are only four accepted methods of comprehension—that is to
say,...”


There are only four accepted methods of comprehension—that is to say, the
realities of things are understood by these four methods.

The first method is by the senses—that is to say, all that the eye, the
ear, the taste, the smell, the touch perceive is understood by this
method. Today this method is considered the most perfect by all the
European philosophers: they say that the principal method of gaining
knowledge is through the senses; they consider it supreme, although it is
imperfect, for it commits errors. For example, the greatest of the senses
is the power of sight.... The sight believes the earth to be motionless
and sees the sun in motion, and in many similar cases it makes mistakes.
Therefore, we cannot trust it.

The second is the method of reason, which was that of the ancient
philosophers, the pillars of wisdom; this is the method of the
understanding. They proved things by reason and hold firmly to logical
proofs; all their arguments are arguments of reason. Notwithstanding this,
they differed greatly, and their opinions were contradictory. They even
changed their views—that is to say, during twenty years they would prove
the existence of a thing by logical arguments, and afterward they would
deny it by logical arguments—so much so that Plato at first logically
proved the immobility of the earth and the movement of the sun; later by
logical arguments he proved that the sun was the stationary center, and
that the earth was moving.... Therefore, it is evident that the method of
reason is not perfect, for the differences of the ancient philosophers,
the want of stability and the variations of their opinions, prove this.
For if it were perfect, all ought to be united in their ideas and agreed
in their opinions.

The third method of understanding is by tradition—that is, through the
text of the Holy Scriptures—for people say, “In the Old and New
Testaments, God spoke thus.” This method equally is not perfect, because
the traditions are understood by the reason. As the reason itself is
liable to err, how can it be said that in interpreting the meaning of the
traditions it will not err, for it is possible for it to make mistakes,
and certainty cannot be attained. This is the method of the religious
leaders; whatever they understand and comprehend from the text of the
books is that which their reason understands from the text, and not
necessarily the real truth; for the reason is like a balance, and the
meanings contained in the text of the Holy Books are like the thing which
is weighed. If the balance is untrue, how can the weight be ascertained?

Know then: that which is in the hands of people, that which they believe,
is liable to error. For, in proving or disproving a thing, if a proof is
brought forward which is taken from the evidence of our senses, this
method, as has become evident, is not perfect; if the proofs are
intellectual, the same is true; or if they are traditional, such proofs
also are not perfect. Therefore, there is no standard in the hands of
people upon which we can rely.

But the bounty of the Holy Spirit gives the true method of comprehension
which is infallible and indubitable. This is through the help of the Holy
Spirit which comes to man, and this is the condition in which certainty
can alone be attained.

(“Some Answered Questions”, pp. 297–299) [67]



From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice



68: “The concern was expressed that many of the friends, holding that
there...”


The concern was expressed that many of the friends, holding that there is
only one “correct” view of the history and teachings of the Faith, react
critically to unfamiliar views. This has already been covered in
statements made by the Universal House of Justice itself, for example that
on pages 88–89 of “Wellspring of Guidance”. As you point out in your
letter, divine Revelation is infallible and proceeds from an
all-encompassing knowledge of the Truth, but when individual Bahá’ís
attempt to apply Sacred Texts to any specific problem or situation they do
so using their own minds which are of limited understanding. Thus, just as
people can differ from one another in their use of reason in making
deductions from available evidence, so they can also differ in their
understanding and application of a passage of divine Revelation. The
Bahá’í principle of the harmony between science and religion requires, as
you say, that a Bahá’í scholar must use his intelligence to arrive at a
solution of a specific problem if there is an apparent conflict between a
Sacred Text and other evidence; and also he must accept the fact that some
problems may defy his comprehension....

By conveying the comments of the Research Department on the ... Seminar(3)
the House of Justice did not intend to imply that there was only one valid
methodology for Bahá’í historians to follow. It merely wished to alert
Bahá’í scholars to the dangers that are inherent in the paths that some of
them are following at the present time. Historical research is largely a
matter of evaluating evidence and deducing probabilities. Historical
evidence, moreover, is always fragmentary, and may also be accidentally
erroneous or even intentionally fabricated. The House of Justice realizes
that you are fully aware of this, but it stresses the point because it
does not see how a Bahá’í historian can in all honesty claim to be a
faithful believer on the one hand and, on the other, challenge in his
writings the veracity and honour of the Central Figures of the Faith or of
its Guardian.

The fact that the Faith, as the Guardian states, “enjoins upon its
followers the primary duty of an unfettered search after truth”, should
reassure any aspiring Bahá’í historian that there can be no question of
any requirement to distort history in the so-called “interests” of the
Faith. On the contrary, the combination of profound faith and freedom of
thought is one of the great strengths of the Bahá’í religion. It does,
however, place a great responsibility upon Bahá’í historians to put
forward their views and conclusions with moderation and due humility. In
this connection one of the Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh states:

Thou hast written that one of the friends hath composed a treatise. This
was mentioned in the Holy Presence, and this is what was revealed in
response: Great care should be exercised that whatever is written in these
days doth not cause dissension, and invite the objection of the people.
Whatever the friends of the one true God say in these days is listened to
by the people of the world. It hath been revealed in the Lawḥ-i-Hikmat:
“The unbelievers have inclined their ears towards Us in order to hear that
which might enable them to cavil against God, the Help in Peril, the
Self-Subsisting.” Whatever is written should not transgress the bounds of
tact and wisdom, and in the words used there should lie hid the property
of milk, so that the children of the world may be nurtured therewith, and
attain maturity. We have said in the past that one word hath the influence
of spring and causeth hearts to become fresh and verdant, while another is
like unto blight which causeth the blossoms and flowers to wither. God
grant that authors among the friends will write in such a way as would be
acceptable

(18 July 1979 to an individual believer) [68]



69: “The House of Justice had hoped that the publication of the
statement...”


The House of Justice had hoped that the publication of the statement(4)
would stimulate discussion among Bahá’í scholars and encourage them to
examine more profoundly all aspects of their work, and the effect it has
upon both Bahá’í and non-Bahá’í audiences. The aim was not to instruct
scholars to abandon any specific methodology but to warn them of the
dangers of taking for granted the a priori assumptions of modern
non-Bahá’í scholars and of allowing their thinking and their understanding
of the Faith to be limited by criteria which they themselves, as Bahá’ís,
would know to be in error. It was also the hope of the House of Justice
that Bahá’í scholars would realize the significance of the manner in which
they express themselves, and that they would guard against use of the
proud and scornful language with which some had been publicly referring to
their fellow believers who, nevertheless, were devotedly trying to serve
the Faith of God.

(8 October 1980 to an individual believer) [69]



70: “From your letter the House of Justice understands that you desire
to...”


From your letter the House of Justice understands that you desire to find
ways of conveying spiritual truths in logical ways and demonstrating their
validity through scientific proofs. There can be no objection to such an
attitude. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself used such a method. The danger Bahá’í
scholars must avoid is the distortion of religious truth, almost forcibly
at times, to make it conform to understandings and perceptions current in
the scientific world. True Bahá’í scholars should guard against this. In a
letter to a National Spiritual Assembly dated 21 July 1968, the House of
Justice wrote:

While it may often be the part of wisdom to approach individuals or an
audience from a standpoint of current knowledge, it should never be
overlooked that the Revelation of the Manifestation of God is the standard
for all knowledge, and scientific statements and theories, no matter how
close they may come to the eternal principles proclaimed by God’s
Messenger, are in their very nature ephemeral and limited. Likewise,
attempting to make the Bahá’í Faith relevant to modern society is to incur
the grave risk of compromising the fundamental verities of our Faith in an
effort to make it conform to current theories and practices.

(7 June 1983 to an individual believer) [70]



71: “The principal concern of the House of Justice is over a
methodological...”


The principal concern of the House of Justice is over a methodological
bias and discordant tone which seem to inform the work of certain of the
authors. The impression given is that, in attempting to achieve what they
understand to be academic objectivity, they have inadvertently cast the
Faith into a mould which is essentially foreign to its nature, taking no
account of the spiritual forces which Bahá’ís see as its foundation.
Presumably the justification offered for this approach would be that most
scholars of comparative religion are essentially concerned with
discernable phenomena, observable events and practical affairs and are
used to treating their subject from a western, if not a Christian,
viewpoint. This approach, although understandable, is quite impossible for
a Bahá’í, for it ignores the fact that our world-view includes the
spiritual dimension as an indispensable component for consistency and
coherence, and it does not beseem a Bahá’í to write ... about his Faith as
if he looked upon it from the norm of humanism or materialism.

In other words, we are presented in such articles with the spectacle of
Bahá’ís trying to write as if they were non-Bahá’ís. This leads to these
authors’ drawing conclusions and making implications which are in conflict
with Bahá’í teachings and with the reality of the Faith. A good Bahá’í
author, when writing for such a publication, should be fully capable of
adopting a calmly neutral and expository tone, without falling into the
trap of distorting the picture by adopting what is, in essence, a
materialistic and localized stance.

(4 October 1994 to a National Spiritual Assembly) [71]



3.5 THE COVENANT



From Letters Written by or on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi



72: “Concerning the course of study you may follow:.... The Cause is...”


Concerning the course of study you may follow:.... The Cause is such that
we can serve it no matter what our profession may be. The only necessity
is that we be spiritually minded and not be guided by purely material
considerations. We should also not let our studies detain us from
deepening our knowledge of the literature of the Cause.

(9 November 1931 on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
[72]

In their efforts to achieve this purpose they must study for themselves,
conscientiously and painstakingly, the literature of their Faith, delve
into its teachings, assimilate its laws and principles, ponder its
admonitions, tenets and purposes, commit to memory certain of its
exhortations and prayers, master the essentials of its administration, and
keep abreast of its current affairs and latest developments. They must
strive to obtain, from sources that are authoritative and unbiased, a
sound knowledge of the history and tenets of Islám—the source and
background of their Faith—and approach reverently and with a mind purged
from preconceived ideas the study of the Qur’án which, apart from the
sacred scriptures of the Bábí and Bahá’í Revelations, constitutes the only
Book which can be regarded as an absolutely authenticated Repository of
the Word of God. They must devote special attention to the investigation
of those institutions and circumstances that are directly connected with
the origin and birth of their Faith, with the station claimed by its
Forerunner, and with the laws revealed by its Author.

(25 December 1938 by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá’ís of the West, published
in “The Advent of Divine Justice” (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust,
1990), p. 49) [73]



73: “The Guardian feels that a sound knowledge of history, including
religious...”


The Guardian feels that a sound knowledge of history, including religious
history, and also of social and economic subjects, is of great help in
teaching the Cause to intelligent people; as to what subjects within the
Faith you should concentrate on he feels that the young Bahá’ís should
gain a mastery of such books as the “Gleanings”, “The Dawn-Breakers”, “God
Passes By”, the “Íqán”, “Some Answered Questions” and the more important
Tablets. All aspects of the Faith should be deeply studied—and ... they
need to know more about the Administration.

(4 May 1946 on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) [74]



75: “It seems what we need now is a more profound and co-ordinated
Bahá’í...”


It seems what we need now is a more profound and co-ordinated Bahá’í
scholarship in order to attract such men as you are contacting. The world
has—at least the thinking world—caught up by now with all the great and
universal principles enunciated by Bahá’u’lláh over 70 years ago, and so
of course it does not sound “new” to them. But we know that the deeper
teachings, the capacity of His projected World Order to re-create society,
are new and dynamic. It is these we must learn to present intelligently
and enticingly to such men!

(3 July 1949 on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) [75]



76: “He was very pleased to hear you do a lot of lecturing for the Cause;
this...”


He was very pleased to hear you do a lot of lecturing for the Cause; this
is a very important field of service and one you should devote as much
time to as possible. The public must hear of the Faith, and new ways and
means must be devised to bring it to their attention. He also urges you to
study the teachings themselves more deeply. Bahá’í scholarship is needed
really more than worldly scholarship, for one is spiritual, the other more
or less transient. There is a real lack in the Cause of people who know
the teachings thoroughly, especially their deeper truths, and who can
consequently teach the souls properly and lay a permanent foundation, one
that tests and trials will not shake down.

(27 August 1951 on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
[76]



From Communications of the Universal House of Justice


77: “In the field of Bahá’í scholarship we feel that it is most important
not...”


In the field of Bahá’í scholarship we feel that it is most important not
to stifle the development of Bahá’í scholars by an attitude of censorship
or undue criticism. We believe that both the International Teaching Centre
and the Boards of Counsellors can render valuable services in this area by
encouraging budding scholars and by promoting within the Bahá’í community
an atmosphere of tolerance for the views of others. At the same time the
fundamental core of the believers’ faith should be strengthened by an
increasing awareness of the cardinal truth and vital importance of the
Covenant, and an ever-growing love for Bahá’u’lláh.

(10 February 1981 memorandum from the Universal House of Justice to the
International Teaching Centre) [77]


78: “There can be no doubt that the progress of the Cause from this
time...”


There can be no doubt that the progress of the Cause from this time onward
will be characterized by an ever-increasing relationship to the agencies,
activities, institutions and leading individuals of the non-Bahá’í world.
We shall acquire greater stature at the United Nations, become better
known in the deliberations of governments, a familiar figure to the media,
a subject of interest to academics, and inevitably the envy of failing
establishments. Our preparation for and response to this situation must be
a continual deepening of our faith, an unwavering adherence to its
principles of abstention from partisan politics and freedom from
prejudices, and above all an increasing understanding of its fundamental
verities and relevance to the modern world.

(Ridván 1984 to the Bahá’ís of the World) [78]



FOOTNOTES


    1 ‘Ulamá, from the Arabic ‘alima, to know, may be translated learned
      men, scientists, religious authorities.

    2 Cf. “Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, p.
      26.

    3 “The Challenge and Promise of Bahá’í Scholarship”, prepared by the
      Research Department. As published in “The Bahá’í World” (Haifa:
      Bahá’í World Centre, 1981), vol. XVII, pp. 195–196, this statement
      was inadvertently attributed to the Universal House of Justice.

    4 Ibid.





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