Saturday, December 14, 2002

In my evening reading, I came to the following from the Kitab-i-Aqdas:

He Who is the Dawning place of God's Cause hath no partner in the Most Great Infallibility. He it is Who, in the kingdom of creation, is the Manifestation of "He doeth whatsoever He willeth". God hath reserved this distinction unto His own Self, and ordained for none a share in so sublime and transcendent a station. This is the decree of God, and concealed ere now within the veil of impenetrable mystery. We have disclosed it in this Revelation, and have thereby rent asunder the veils of such have failed to recognize that which the Book of God set forth and who were numbered with the heedless.

It's always a tricky thing, writing about the Covenant -- any passing thought is likely to be a topic of debate, or worse, thrown up at you later as proof of how bad you are. But I have struggled with the meaning of the Covenant, ever since I resigned my membership from the Faith -- there's really no way around it. What I'm sure of, is that Baha'u'llah did not intend for this exaggerated reliance on the authorized interpreters in the Faith, an attitude that puts whatever 'Abdu'l-Baha' and Shoghi Effendi have said above the sacred text itself. Indeed, any suggestion that there could be a contradiction is flatly rejected. Shoghi Effendi might as well *be* Baha'u'llah, as far as most Baha'is are concerned, since all his words are thought of as being just as infallible. But that's not what Baha'u'llah said -- and I figure there must be a reason for Him to so carefully explain that the Most Great Infallibility is not shared. He says this here, and even more extensively in Ishraqat.

But, what struck me in this passage is that Baha'u'llah seems to be saying that people in previous religions had the infallibility thing all wrong -- that they *did* grant a share of that infallibility to others than the Manifestation himself. Well, I know that's true of Shi'ih Islam; in fact, there are some sects that put the Imam 'Ali above Muhammad. It seems that Baha'u'llah is here giving us a warning.

More thoughts on this later.

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