Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hey, It’s Masá’il!

My favorite month in the Baha’i calendar! I think the month named “Questions” should be a nineteen-day extravaganza of inquiry. If Questions is an attribute or name of God, then it seems improper for Baha’is to keep their questions tucked away. What would happen if during this month all Baha’is looked inside, into the shadowy corners of their minds and hearts, and coaxed out all unspoken questions . . .?

Why haven’t more of the Bab’s writings been translated? How do we know when the Universal House of Justice is legislating, and has it ever legislated on anything? Why isn’t Khadíjih Bagum one of the Letters of the Living? How much is the salary of the Secretary of the U.S. NSA? Do sexually active gay Baha’is have their administrative rights removed more often than violent abusers? Do violent abusers ever have their administrative rights removed? Are the violations against Iranian Baha’is by the Iranian government the only government abuses of human rights that Baha’is are allowed to speak out about and organize to stop?

Does a paper on which the text of the long healing prayer is printed have magical healing powers, as suggested in the prayer? Does my membership in the Baha’i community hinder or help my spiritual growth? My intellectual growth? Is teaching the Faith proselytizing by a different name? Why are there so few excellent books in the secondary literature of the Faith? Has pre-publication review been in the best interest of the Faith’s development? How can cannabis damage the soul? How can Baha’is resolve feelings of guilt for past actions? If Baha’i houses of worship are supposed to be places we go to hear the word of God recited, why aren’t acoustics the top priority in design instead of appearance? Shouldn’t the Temple of Light be the temple of sound and spoken word?

Diverse, perplexing, and unanswered questions: Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Question: How can “questions” be an attribute of God? God is glory. God is beauty. God is light. God is mercy. God is perfection. God is might. God is knowledge. God is power. God is “questions”? How? I don’t know . . . but I like it. Perhaps “questions” as a divine attribute is a way of naming the divine relationship to our free will, God’s wondering what we will choose, the self-chosen not-knowing of the All Knowing.

When I think about questions as something holy in us, an attribute of God that we are to reflect, I think of curiosity, of openness, of knowing that one doesn’t know. Questions imply a relationship between the asker and the truth, between the questioner and the world. By questioning, the intellect approaches the divine with its own proper need, the need to know, to understand. Is there a God? How do I know? What good is God anyway? The questions of the mind blend with the questions of the heart. And when we bring our questions to each other, something happens. Both by our questions and by our responses to the questions of others we reveal ourselves. Questions can be creative. Questions create community.

Independent investigation of truth is proclaimed as a primary principal of the Baha’i Faith. I wonder, though, is there even such a thing as independent investigation of truth? Can we seek truth without being in conversation? Can we come to the truth without each other? And what if we do? So I’ve come to the truth, all by my lonesome. Great. The truth is, we are not independent. We are always interdependent. And our search for truth is in community, a community of shared language, of shared history, story, and culture, or, at the very least, shared humanity. Nor can the divinity of questions be realized if we are in isolation from each other. The questions need the community and the community needs the questions.

But questions are nothing much if they do not lead to any exploration of possible answers. Or if the answers are predetermined. And if the answers are not predetermined, then they will not be the same for everyone in the community. Do people slip from active participation in Baha’i community, are they marginalized or kicked out, not merely because of this or that hot-button issue—although that is certainly there—but because of a collective and institutional discomfort with questions, their contagiousness, and the diversity and change which an open-ended creative relationship to the truth must yield?

Not only do we reveal ourselves in our responses to our own and other people’s questions, but we also reveal our theology and our relationship to the divine. If a religious community does not allow questions, real questions, open questions, challenging questions, and if it doesn’t want the people who question, who manifest this divine attribute, then I wonder what kind of God that community serves. Aren’t questions an expression of our desire for the unknown? The paradox at the heart of Baha’i faith—that we are created to “know” and “worship” (short obligatory prayer) what “minds cannot grasp . . . nor hearts contain” (Arabic Hidden Words)—is a paradox which, if lived, must yield questions and more questions.

Can the Baha’i Faith be a community that lives its questions? Or is it bound to be a community of quick answers? Are the principles of the Faith ready answers to our troubles, or arrows pointing in the directions where productive questions lie? The unity of humanity: What is unity? Why are we divided? Who is my neighbor? Do I feel heard? Do I listen to others? Is unity necessarily good? How does God want us to live our unity?

Questions lead to other questions. How is it that neither unity nor oneness is among the divine attributes on the calendrical list? How can our Baha’i community collectively manifest those that are, such as mercy, light, honor, dominion, and might? How will we know that the power we manifest is a proper reflection of divine power?

One way is to question the community's exercise of power. Looking at this list of attributes, “questions” seems to me the safeguard of all. A community must question itself as it attempts to reflect the divine in its collective life.

In the Kitab-i-Aqdas (p. 64), Baha’u’llah says:

In the Bayán it had been forbidden you to ask Us questions. The Lord hath now relieved you of this prohibition, that ye may be free to ask what you need to ask, but not such idle questions as those on which the men of former times were wont to dwell. Fear God, and be ye of the righteous! Ask ye that which shall be of profit to you in the Cause of God and His dominion, for the portals of His tender compassion have been opened before all who dwell in heaven and on earth.

This admonition can easily be used to maintain the status quo. If there are questions which the fear of God should keep us from asking—a proposition I’m not ready to affirm—they will likely be suspiciously close to the questions that most need to be asked. The questions “which shall be of profit to you in the Cause of God” may therefore look to some like a threat to the Cause of God. Who will decide which questions can be asked? Faith is a risky affair. If Baha’is err in the direction of checking questions to protect the Cause of God, they may protect themselves from their heart’s desire.

I think allowing questions is closely akin to allowing God, and that is our job, to allow God, to allow the mystery of our own hearts, the uncertainty of our lives, the fragility of our hope. I think it’s possible to live in holiness without answers, but I don’t think it’s possible to live in holiness without questions.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

These are all challenging question for some Baha'is, but why, if no longer a Baha'i do you raise them. Why don't you let go of the past and just get on with your new life as a non Baha'i.

I wish you well on your spiritual journey.

Anonymous said...

This is my favorite post of yours thus far. All of those questions were very provoking and good, and each one would probably yield ten more. Any flourishing civilization that existed allowed, nay demanded questions constantly. I find it amazing that one of the names of God is "Questions." And denying God one of his attributes would leave a spiritual community stagnant in that attribute.

But I do know the fear of questions. Sometimes people can be rather mean when asking questions, in which their own question is an insult. Like, I once heard a man ask a kind Muslim man "Why do you believe in chopping heads off of people who don't agree with you, and why do you have to beat your wives all the time?"

I'll write another comment later, possibly.


Anonymous said...


You aren't the first one to ask this questionand you won't be the last. Why should Priscilla, no loner part of the Baha'i Faith, care enough about the Baha'i Faith to ask these challenging questions? Here's my answer. Are you ready?

The problem, as I see it, starts with the unique character of the Faith. The Baha'i Faith is perhaps the only world religion where people are encouraged to leave even when they haven't lost faith in the founding figure. As long as you believe in Jesus -- believe in whatever sense you choose -- there's a Christian congregation out there for you. Anyone who believes that Mohammed is the prophet of the one true God is a Muslim, it's really that simple. But being a Baha'i isn't like that, although things would be a lot better, I believe, if it was.

What do I mean? Just consider. Did Alison Marshall ever stop believing in Baha'u'llah as a manifestation? Did Sen McGlinn? I was refused my Baha'i card even though I was willing to affirm every which way that I believed that Baha'u'llah had the same status as Moses or Buddha or any other manifestation. And that's the secret. In another religion that might have been enough: there'd have been a place for me and Sen and Alison. But the Baha'i Faith isn't like that. Believing in Baha'u'llah and the Bab and Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi isn't enough to make a Baha'i.

Now, I'm not about to criticize this state of affairs. Maybe it's necessary that you can't be a Baha'i unless you also believe that the House is 'freed from error' and that those nine men can never make a mistaken decision when they decide together. I'm not saying it shouldn't be that way, but you should understand in turn that it has consequences. Because if you deny Baha'i membership to people who haven't given up on Baha'u'llah or the other central figures, if you exclude people who still love the prayers and the writings, this is exactly what's going to happen. People are still going to write about these things, still going to care about these things for the simple reason that they never stopped caring.

And this is what it comes down to: caring. Unless there's a place within the Faith for everyone who cares, some people who still care will have to find a place without. As long as the choice to leave isn't entirely their own, as long as folks don't depart when and only when they are ready to renounce all belief in Baha'u'llah, you're going to have this issue. People who still care, who still care deeply about the Baha'i writings, about Baha'i issues, on the outside the looking in.

I wish you well on your spiritual journey just as you wish Priscilla well. Perhaps the day will come when all of us can call ourselves Baha'is. It seems a remote possibility right now, but God has worked miracles before.


Anonymous said...

Brendan Cook said: "But being a Baha'i isn't like that, although things would be a lot better, I believe, if it was ... But the Baha'i Faith isn't like that. Believing in Baha'u'llah and the Bab and Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi isn't enough to make a Baha'i."

The Baha'i Faith "isn't like that" only if one delimits the definition of the Faith to the mainstream, Haifan tradition, much as one might delimit the definition of the Catholic Faith to the mainstream, Roman tradition. This is not, however, the final word on the matter. Many Anglicans (as well as Lutherans) identify themselves as Catholic: not Roman Catholic, but Reformed Catholic, or Anglo-Catholic. I appreciate that Priscilla addresses her questions to the mainstream, Haifan tradition, but I don't accept the false dichotomy that we "can call ourselves Baha'i" only if we accept the Haifan tradition's well-delimited definition of the Faith. I think this acceptance of the Haifan definition, as well as the implicit assumption of its truth, has prevented many so-called "unenrolled Baha'i" from considering new ways of conceptualizing their beliefs and has served the interests of the Haifan tradition very well indeed.

As a "declared" member of a non-Haifan Baha'i tradition, I call myself a Baha'i: if someone wishes to take issue with that, that's their problem, not mine. I'm also a Unitarian: in the early days of the Faith, it was not uncommon for Baha'i to have a dual religious identity (one will still hear from Persians the phrase "a Zoroastrian Baha'i"). Early Baha'i in the West very commonly attended Christian churches or affiliated with New Thought groups. It was Shoghi Effendi who, in his efforts to make the Baha'i Faith known as a separate religion with its own identity, made it an offense to belong to another religious organization.

Priscilla may still identify as Baha'i, and perhaps her questions of the Haifan tradition are offered in the spirit of inter-Baha'i ecumenism: this, at least, is how I prefer to interpret her comments.

kaweah said...

Dear Boab,

I guess that within every ex-Baha'i there's a little toddler Baha'i that just won't stop asking those embarrassing questions like "why are you so fat?"

Beautiful post, Ms. Leaf. The great bounty of your question tree reminds me of George Carlin, AKA the Offender of the Faith, except your Qs are a weee bit more gentle. Keep up the great work.


Anonymous said...

Ok, Smokin' Leaf, I see your questions and raise you one: is it ever fruitful to ask questions of each other as fallible human beings, or are some questions only answerable by God through sincere prayer and meditation? Perhaps that is answered in the example of the Manifestation of God Himself. Here is a long list of questions He posed to God, along with the answers He got. Perhaps if we ponder them in our hearts, if our hearts are as sincere as His was, there are answers in it for us as well...

"In the Name of God, the Most Ancient, the Most Great.

Indeed the hearts of the sincere are consumed in the fire of separation: Where is the gleaming of the light of Thy Countenance, O Beloved of the worlds?

Those who are near unto Thee have been abandoned in the darkness of desolation: Where is the shining of the morn of Thy reunion, O Desire of the worlds?

The bodies of Thy chosen ones lie quivering on distant sands: Where is the ocean of Thy presence, O Enchanter of the worlds?

Longing hands are uplifted to the heaven of Thy grace and generosity: Where are the rains of Thy bestowal, O Answerer of the worlds?

The infidels have arisen in tyranny on every hand: Where is the compelling power of Thine ordaining pen, O Conqueror of the worlds?

The barking of dogs is loud on every side: Where is the lion of the forest of Thy might, O Chastiser of the worlds?

Coldness hath gripped all mankind: Where is the warmth of Thy love, O Fire of the worlds?

Calamity hath reached its height: Where are the signs of Thy succor, O Salvation of the worlds?

Darkness hath enveloped most of the peoples: Where is the brightness of Thy splendor, O Radiance of the worlds?

The necks of men are stretched out in malice: Where are the swords of Thy vengeance, O Destroyer of the worlds?

Abasement hath reached its lowest depth: Where are the emblems of Thy glory, O Glory of the worlds?

Sorrows have afflicted the Revealer of Thy Name, the All-Merciful: Where is the joy of the Dayspring of Thy Revelation, O Delight of the worlds?

Anguish hath befallen all the peoples of the earth: Where are the ensigns of Thy gladness, O Joy of the worlds?

Thou seest the Dawning Place of Thy signs veiled by evil suggestions: Where are the fingers of Thy might, O Power of the worlds?

Sore thirst hath overcome all men: Where is the river of Thy bounty, O Mercy of the worlds?

Greed hath made captive all mankind: Where are the embodiments of detachment, O Lord of the worlds?

Thou seest this Wronged One lonely in exile: Where are the hosts of the heaven of Thy Command, O Sovereign of the worlds?

I have been forsaken in a foreign land: Where are the emblems of Thy faithfulness, O Trust of the worlds?

The agonies of death have laid hold on all men: Where is the surging of Thine ocean of eternal life, O Life of the worlds?

The whisperings of Satan have been breathed to every creature: Where is the meteor of Thy fire, O Light of the worlds?

The drunkenness of passion hath perverted most of mankind: Where are the daysprings of purity, O Desire of the worlds?

Thou seest this Wronged One veiled in tyranny among the Syrians: Where is the radiance of Thy dawning light, O Light of the worlds?

Thou seest Me forbidden to speak forth: Then from where will spring Thy melodies, O Nightingale of the worlds?

Most of the people are enwrapped in fancy and idle imaginings: Where are the exponents of Thy certitude, O Assurance of the worlds?

Bahá is drowning in a sea of tribulation: Where is the Ark of Thy salvation, O Savior of the worlds?

Thou seest the Dayspring of Thine utterance in the darkness of creation: Where is the sun of the heaven of Thy grace, O Lightgiver of the worlds?

The lamps of truth and purity, of loyalty and honor, have been put out: Where are the signs of Thine avenging wrath, O Mover of the worlds?

Canst Thou see any who have championed Thy Self, or who ponder on what hath befallen Him in the pathway of Thy love? Now doth My pen halt, O Beloved of the worlds.

The branches of the Divine Lote-Tree lie broken by the onrushing gales of destiny: Where are the banners of Thy succor, O Champion of the worlds?

This Face is hidden in the dust of slander: Where are the breezes of Thy compassion, O Mercy of the worlds?

The robe of sanctity is sullied by the people of deceit: Where is the vesture of Thy holiness, O Adorner of the worlds?

The sea of grace is stilled for what the hands of men have wrought: Where are the waves of Thy bounty, O Desire of the worlds?

The door leading to the Divine Presence is locked through the tyranny of Thy foes: Where is the key of Thy bestowal, O Unlocker of the worlds?

The leaves are yellowed by the poisoning winds of sedition: Where is the downpour of the clouds of Thy bounty, O Giver of the worlds?

The universe is darkened with the dust of sin: Where are the breezes of Thy forgiveness, O Forgiver of the worlds?

This Youth is lonely in a desolate land: Where is the rain of Thy heavenly grace, O Bestower of the worlds?

O Supreme Pen, We have heard Thy most sweet call in the eternal realm: Give Thou ear unto what the Tongue of Grandeur uttereth, O Wronged One of the worlds!

Were it not for the cold, how would the heat of Thy words prevail, O Expounder of the worlds?

Were it not for calamity, how would the sun of Thy patience shine, O Light of the worlds?

Lament not because of the wicked. Thou wert created to bear and endure, O Patience of the worlds.

How sweet was Thy dawning on the horizon of the Covenant among the stirrers of sedition, and Thy yearning after God, O Love of the worlds.

By Thee the banner of independence was planted on the highest peaks, and the sea of bounty surged, O Rapture of the worlds.

By Thine aloneness the Sun of Oneness shone, and by Thy banishment the land of Unity was adorned. Be patient, O Thou Exile of the worlds.

We have made abasement the garment of glory, and affliction the adornment of Thy temple, O Pride of the worlds.

Thou seest the hearts are filled with hate, and to overlook is Thine, O Thou Concealer of the sins of the worlds.

When the swords flash, go forward!

When the shafts fly, press onward! O Thou Sacrifice of the worlds.

Dost Thou wail, or shall I wail? Rather shall I weep at the fewness of Thy champions, O Thou Who hast caused the wailing of the worlds.

Verily, I have heard Thy Call, O All-Glorious Beloved; and now is the face of Bahá flaming with the heat of tribulation and with the fire of Thy shining word, and He hath risen up in faithfulness at the place of sacrifice, looking toward Thy pleasure, O Ordainer of the worlds.

O ‘Alí-Akbar, thank thy Lord for this Tablet whence thou canst breathe the fragrance of My meekness, and know what hath beset Us in the path of God, the Adored of all the worlds.

Should all the servants read and ponder this, there shall be kindled in their veins a fire that shall set aflame the worlds."

— Bahá’u’lláh

kaweah said...

Well lookie there, Ms. Leaf, you really have arrived. It looks like you have Baha'u'llah himself commenting on your blog.

To sum it up, he seems to be saying "hang in there, handmaid".

Priscilla said...


You wish me well on my journey and seem eager for me to get going. But I’m not about to hop on any train to otherwhere. And I wonder, must we part so soon? Can’t you stay a while and say more of what you think? We are, after all, family aren’t we? Why would the questions I pose be challenging to many Baha’is? What do you think about the theology of questions? What does it say to you about God that Questions is, according to Baha’i theology, one of God’s attributes? What does that mean for the life of Baha’i individuals and communities?


I’m glad you liked this post. I enjoyed writing it and discovered, at least for myself, possibilities and challenges in Baha’i theology which I found exciting.

Some questions, like the example you give, are not authentic questions but acts of aggression with question marks at their ends. Most of us do this or want to do it sometimes. Hopefully we stop ourselves, but not always.


Thanks for bringing up the Fire Tablet. What a great connection—all those questions. I used to love it; I don’t know what I think of it now. I’d like to see a fresh translation. This one reminds me strongly of my overzealous days. Maybe I’ll write about that the next time Masa’il “comes around on the gi-tar.” And yes, the questions brought to prayer and meditation are rock bottom essential. I don’t think its an either or between God and human beings, though; I don’t think we’re that separable.

Brendan and Andrew,

I really am an ex-Baha’i, not an unenrolled Baha’i or any other kind. Perhaps my use of multiple voices in this piece, including a hypothetical questioning Baha’i, blurred that distinction. Nevertheless, in large part I agree with both of you. I do still care about the Faith, as Brendan says, and find it interesting, and I still care about everything that brought me into the Faith. I enjoyed writing this piece because I explored a bit of Baha’i theology that made me think about God and our attempts to live in holiness in ways that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t still interested in the Faith. And much of what I said applies beyond the Faith as well.

I’m a Vermonter now, but I still have a lot of Texas in me because I grew up there. I came of age as a Baha’i and I think anybody who is bothered by my continued interest in thinking about the Faith reveals a paltry idea of what it is to be a person and live a human life. Sometime I will write a post about my relationship to the Faith, which is changing and very much my present as well as my past, but it will also be about the relationship to the Faith of those mainstream Baha’is that go around trying to get the rest of us to stop talking. Boab was basically friendly, but, man, it can be nasty sometimes.

I think a lot of people, including Brendan and Andrew and the people Brendan mentions, are opening up new possibilities for people to identify as Baha’is or simply believe in Baha’u’llah outside the rules of the mainstream tradition. And many possibilities are also open to the rest of us who once identified as Baha’is but don’t now. The attempts of some mainstream Baha’is to stop open discussion of the Faith only provide additional evidence of the problems some of us are pointing out.

My best to all,

p.s. thanks, Dan.

Cindy Wills said...

"This is my favorite post of yours thus far."
Mine, too.

Anonymous said...

Dear Priscilla,

First, fyi there is a Brazilian Psychedelic Christian Church headquartered in the northern Brazilian Amazon known as the Santo Daime who consider the 'herb' a holy sacrament (one of two, actually) designating it as 'Santa Maria' ;-) They primarily preach the Gospel of the Tea, however.

Second, this ties into your question about the Month of Questions. Note 'Masa'il' can also denote "issues" and not just ???. Now look at it from a slightly different perspective than what the Baha'is have told you. The Bab - being the ultimate batini esotericist of the Islamic world - pretty much came at all higher "questions" from the POV of what the meditations upon letters and words reveal about the nature of the Great Mystery in very much an identical trajectory as the Isma'ilis. Like the Bab, the Isma'ili theosophers would endlessly permutate kabbalistically the grammatical forms of the various Divine Names and Attributes as meditations penetrating into the depths of the Divine Ground.

One of the most profound of these meditations was deriving the Name 'Allah' from the word 'walah' (which can mean both 'sadness' and 'sympathy' or sympatheia, but generally connoting nostalgia). They then related this insight to the hadith/tradition of "I was a Hidden Treasure and desired to be known therefore I created creation in order to be known" relating the divine desire to create the world to a divine sadness (or, thrall) on the part of the Godhead in never being able to exhaust the possibilities of Its infinite manifestations in order to know Itself beyond Its Eternal, Self-Contained Transcendent Solitariness. They then related this to the nostalgia/sadness of the human soul in its material exile and argued that sadness within the human soul was the very sadness/nostalgia (walah) of the Hidden Treasure desiring to know Itself through the human soul.

While this might not directly answer your 'question' as to why the month of Questions is so named, it is a tiny probe into the mind of the Point who designated it as such, i.e. what sorts of "issues" would be animating his mind to formulate it such. If you look at the numerical positioning of this month in the Badi' calendar - and meditate on the number itself - it itself discloses its secret (or why the Bab so designated it).

Third, the wife of the Bab - Khadija Begum - was not included as a Letter of the Living because the entire family of the Bab (other than his maternal uncle Siyyid Ali) all turned against him during his brief 6 year ministry. He was all but marginalized by them, especially as the claim He made had them lose face and honor amongst the merchant class of siyyids they belonged to. The Bahais have claimed that she later became a Bahai, but there is not a shred of actual evidence for this, and the interview that was done with her some 40 years later after the events by one of the people of the Bayan pretty much proves that she was not inclined either way. The rest of the Afnans (all those who saw the Bab as a family disgrace during his life) began coming over during the late Baghdad years of Azal's ministry. They later gave their allegience to Mirza Husayn 'Ali beginning in the late 1860s. Like I said, during His life and ministry Siyyid 'Ali was the only one amongst the family who followed Him and took his claims seriously. I think also the marriage was a little difficult for both, since He was more inclined towards the life of the Adept (this is before His ministry), continually running away to pray and meditate or over to the Shiite Shrine cities in Iraq, then being what would more conservatively be expected of Him as a traditional husband. That their son Ahmad was stillborn would've added to the overall difficulties. The Bab would've been seen as an eccentric savant, something that would've driven the family expectations of his role within a traditional 19th century Iranian family up the wall! I can totally relate here.

Many of the primary Writings of the Essence of the Seven Letters, the Bab, are being translated - together with the scant remaining works of several of the Letters of the Living (Quddus, Mulla Husayn and Tahirih chiefly) as well as Azal's - and will be made available in self-published (PoD) format by myself throughout the next decade.


Priscilla said...


Thanks much for your comments. The bit about ‘sadness’ is stunning. I wouldn’t mind reading more about that.

I knew writing this post that I was not even getting into the origins of the month’s name, which, correct me if I am wrong, goes back to a particular list of God’s names that pre-dates even the Bab. I also suspected that questions would not be the only translation of Masa’il.

It is very interesting to get different Babi history from you. As I’m sure you know, the Baha’i story is that Khadijih Bagum accepted the Bab before anyone else even knew. My interest in the question about her is really the problems in Baha’i narratives that that story seems to me to create. When I looked into it a bit myself I found Babi history is far more complex than I had realized, in retrospect not surprising, and decided, at least for now, not to tackle that subject for a blog post.

My best to you,

N. Wahid Azal said...


On allah as walah (God as sadness) Look at this book (particularly section 2),

I.e. Henry Corbin

This was the man who convinced me I should learn Arabic - not so much to read Bahai writings - but to be able to read the Great Spiritual figures of my people he spent his whole professional life writing about. Take a look at his essay on the Amis Corbin page entitled the 'Paradox of Monotheism'. I think you will enjoy it.

The Bahai histories falsely appropriated Khadijih Begum whether as a Babi or as a Bahai. She was neither. This had a lot to do with attempts at retrospectively giving credible legitimacy to the Afnan clan who had come over in the re-Imagined Bahai narratives. The interview done with her with one of the eminent Bayanis of Shiraz in the 1890s demonstrates she was totally disinclined either way. She lived in the House at Shiraz to the end of her days and as far as the interviewer ascertained, she was a typical, merchant-class Shirazi Shi'ite Muslim woman.

Yes, the history (and dare one say, scriptural texts) of Babism is a lot, lot more complex than the Bahai narratives have led many to believe. Unfortunately much has been invested by the Bahais of all hues, stripes and factions to ever probe this area with any level of dispassionate objectivity or depth beyond a mechanism to merely validate themselves because they know if they did the risk of the whole house of cards tumbling down and the whole charade unravelling on all levels is absolutely real!

All my best to you too,


Anonymous said...

I have a "question" for Wahid Azal, if you would indulge me. I was at a class with some Baha'i scholars some years back, and we got to talking about The Bab' and his teachings. They were honest and disinterested in defending anything, and told me what they knew (to their knowledge.) I was wondering if you could back any of it up. Some of the questions are other stuff I read, too, and did not come from the dialog with the teachers.

1.) The Bab' wrote to the Shah and called on him to start a Global Jihad to usher in the advent of the Mahdi.

2.) The Bab' believed that Talismans and Amulets really did have magical powers if worn (not the symbolic interpretation 'Abdu'l-Baha gives.)

3.) The Bab' wrote some of his writings with incorrect grammar and was criticized by the scholars for such.

4.) The Babis were not solely the innocent, sheepish victims of Muslim aggression, but also played a part in their persecution with their radicalism and fanatical teachings, such as wanting a Babi State expelling all non-Babis from the land, and disturbing the peace of Muslim religious centers by ranting about the Promised One and dissimulating as Muslims in order to pretend that the Babi teachings were actually Islamic, to convince Muslims to believe in these ideas and then convert them to the Babi faith eventually.

5.) The Babis must divorce their spouse if they don't convert to the Babi Faith.


N. Wahid Azal said...

Dear Steve, Nur 'Aleykum,

1) The Essence of the Seven Letters, the Bab, wrote Muhammad Shah Qajar several times exhorting him towards his religious obligation of laying his sword and his armies in the service of the Imam of the Age, the Remnant of the Godhead, viz. He the Bab - yes indeed, absolutely He did! Would that Muhammad Shah done so. Iran and the rest of the world would've been a very, very different place today.

2)An unqualified 'yes' to your second question, as do I myself takes these things very seriously (my house is full of all kinds of Islamic, Bayani and Jewish Kabbalistic Talismans, Charms and Amulets). Magick and the occult (Hermeticism and esotericism in general) is very much a central, animating component to the religion of the Bayan. This is why I qualify 'Bayan' with 'gnostic' calling it the Bayani gnostic faith.

3)The charge of incorrect grammar is tied to your previous question, in a round about sort of way. It was a charge levelled predominantly by the close minded, exoteric-obsessed type mullah, and it has very little basis if one begins to appreciate what the Bab was actually doing - often deliberately - i.e. stretching language beyond its allowable confines as a mechanism to penetrate into the depths of the metaphsical reality of such words and constructs via the written word itself. In other words, what He was doing was Alchemy but with the living language itself rather than metallic elements/spagyrics. If the Logos/Nous qua Primal Will as embodied in its Human Talisman is held to be the agency through which creation is created, thus It can thrust the barriers of language and break all human rules and strictures regarding language however it pleases. Think of the postmodernists but with a metaphysical and esoteric thrust. That is what the Bab was up to.

Now many of those passages that were criticized by the stickler grammarian-qua exoteric mullah, when one puts those passages to gematria (numerological analysis) the hidden meaning and text behind the purported incorrect grammar being criticized (i.e. the text behind the text) suddenly appears from behind it. Kabbalists in Judaism have been doing the same thing whence they derived the 72 letter Name of the Godhead and other things. The Bab as a Thaumaturge and Hierophant qua the Imam of the Age was writing primarily for an audience of Shi'ite esoteric Adepts, i.e. the Shaykhis and those others steeped in that esoteric ethos of what Henry Corbin has dubbed 'En islam iranien'. People like Vahid Darabi or Mullah Husayn and even my ancestor Tahirih had no problems with the Bab's grammar or His bending of the rules - and these were individuals deeply rooted in a background of solid orthodox strictures who could recite the correct rules and regulations of Arabic grammar in their sleep, backwards. Howbeit they didn't have a problem with this specific question and these narrow minded stickling, non-adept and one-dimensional mullahs did? That is the question here. Note that even amongst the more mainstream mystical and esoteric types in Iran who have criticized the Bab for other reasons, have backed off this grammar issue - because it became also apparent to them what He was doing.

4) The Babis were absolutely out to overthrow the existing establishment by force and violence! This was the fulfilled eschaton. The Imam had appeared and it was time to kick butt. They were Jihadis, for sure, as they had every right to be within their own minds. Why people - esp Bahais - have a problem with this has more to do with a, shall we say, a contemporary effette (yet hypocritical) approach to such questions. Holy War is a fight for the Truth and it occurs more than just on the physical level. The Knights who went out on the Quest for the Holy Graal in the Arthurian legends were also on a Holy War. Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS is about Holy War as is the entire STAR WARS Trilogy, not to mention most of the novels of CS Lewis. And I haven't even touched on the Crusades. Yet when this stuff occurs in literature or film people in the West glorify in it, idolize it even. But when it comes to these great Babis, some start getting whimpy all of a sudden and try to dismiss them on flimsy pretexts!

I suggest people who have questions about the JIHADI aspect of the Babis go watch one of Wagners great Operas and then come back and think from a more elevated perspective about Shaykh Tabarsi and Nayriz. And I am being deadly serious here.

5) No to the final question.


Anonymous said...

Good Question!
I am a Baha'i. That is to say I believe that Baha'u'lla brought a new revelation. I try to follow those admonitions. I therefore 'follow Baha'u'llah' which by definition makes me a Baha'i.

Why do Baha'is think that the Haifan led group sets the standard for being Baha'i? Even the designation dis associated etc. insinuates the "Haifan standard".

Do I have to understand Wahid in order to be a Baha'i? I functioned pretty well as a craftsman during my earning years and I never ever made a complete and exhaustive study of constructing stone weaponry or eating utensils.

Is there anyone besides me who sees the House of Justice as growing from the ground up? That is to say first you, I, and other Baha'is establish a House of Justice in our village, then those locals communicate (maybe over this blog)and form a collective world conscience - a universal House of Justice?

Doesn't every Baha'i conduct thier life according to the admonishions for a house of justice? That is, examine the world of being, contemplate the world of spirit and choose that which is meet and seemly for yourself and those around you?

Is there any one who ferreted out all thirteen quotations of Baha'u'llah concerning "Guardian"?
Are there more that I can't find?
Never did He use guardian to mean the head of a house of justice, at any level. Who started that idea??

Questions led to electricty, questions led to this computer, questions will lead to peace perhaps, so do not ask why do we ask questions but ask why do we not answer them?

Ah yes, Questions? and what are the answers I get?
From those more immersed than me?
Get out of my group!!! Before you make me sick!

Sorry about that bud, I'm a Baha'i and I can't quit.

Robert Clifton

Anonymous said...

Well, So much for a nineteen day extravaganza of questions!
The fifteenth post on the 19th of December seems to have ended it all.

Robert heaves a sigh.

Robert Clifton

Man of gestation (of God) said...

"How can Baha'is resolve past feelings of guilt"? is one of the questions you asked.

For what its worth - accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

I grew up Baha'i with the intellectual construct that all the manifestations of God are one. But in practice it was usually a bit of a snicker in the path of the previous Lights of God.

At some point I realized that I didn't really "Love" Baha'u'llah. Though I really wanted to. Here was a Man who abandoned Abdu'l-Baha, He had 3 wives, He was extremely angry (as documented in God Passes By), and well - he just wasn't "lovable" to me in any case.

And so this was a trauma. And then I read the Bible, on its own terms (as opposed to as a resource to convert Christians) and - BAM - there it was.

The FREE gift of Grace.
I didn't need anyone's sanction.
Didn't need to call myself "Christian".

Using the English model of Kingship I acknowledged my lowly status and decided that Baha'u'llah is my Lord of Lords and King of Kings - Awesome and unapproachable in His Majesty - and that Jesus, His Son (In truth - as Abdu'l-Baha clearly clarifies to the Baha'is), is my Lord and Saviour.

He's the Prince Charles guy that intercedes for me with the Dreadful Lord by washing away my sins (in Baha'i parlance - cleansing my garment. De-drossing my mirror).

And so - wereas God is the Ever-Forgiving in Baha'i-speak - that's only true in the "next kingdom". And that's nice and a comfort.

But to actually experience the removal of that "guilt" and general yuckky-ness, the illness, the fear, the stiffness and inability to sway your hips and feel the "life force" coursing through your entire body (and that includes your genetalia- for indeed, Baha'is also have genetalia and that's okey-dokey) - for that we need Jesus Christ.
To experience that in THIS life.

And its FOR FREE!
Go figure.

Anyhoo . . . are you Marcia's kid? This dis-enchantment seems to be rather the norm these days. That's alright too.

Sorry about your ailment.

If its fibro-myalgia or some such . .. I'm telling you . . . Jesus will hook you up sister.

I consider myself a B.A.B. Baha'i.
That is a Born Again Baha'i.

Its nice when the acronyms work so smoothly.


Well you write real good and such sister.


Anonymous said...

How can Baha'is resolve feelings of guilt for past actions?

Last month, one of the members of the meditation circle I attend received an impression during our reflection period, an impression she shared with us:

"Through Baha'u'llah to the Houri, through the Houri to God."

The woman who received this impression has since further clarified it for us:

"We used to see the Houri through the eyes of Baha'u'llah; now we see Baha'u'llah through the eyes of the Houri."

The Houri becomes humanized and historicized in Baha'u'llah, who makes human nature itself the house in which he dwells.

The Manifestation Soul of Baha'u'llah (as distinct from his human soul) is feminine. The Maid of Heaven lifts the Veil from the Face of the Manifestation of God: the Houri is the Remover of the Veil.

In the Ode of the Dove, it is only when Baha'u'llah does not acquiesce to the intimidation of the Houri that this assuages her anger.

The sense of guilt is resolved when the voice of conscience is heard.

The fierce aspect of the divine feminine has been valued highly by those most intent in their quest for spiritual freedom. To not observe, understand, and transcend her is to remain bound to a life of suffering and delusion.

In the Hindu tradition, the fierce aspect of the divine feminine is represented by Kali, and the taming of Kali in the Tantric tradition is said to be a most dangerous course of spiritual practice, but one that carries the possibility of liberation in a single lifetime, if the difficult path can be completed.

"Kali is tamed in Tantric sadhana by another kind of hero—the adept who willingly meets her on her own terms and in her own sanctuary, who confronts her in the dead of night in the cremation ground. In confronting the terrible, black goddess, the adept confronts the 'forbidden' dimensions of reality by partaking of them. He puts the spotlight, as it were, on those darker, murkier dimensions of his own being. He lets the ghosts and frightening monsters of his instinctual subconscious being emerge into the light, where they are aired, studied, consciously accepted, and hence stripped of their power to bind him. He conquers these hidden monsters by ritually forcing himself to end that instinctual, perpetual censorship that insists on blinding him to the realities of death and pain. By meditating on Kali in the cremation ground, by surrounding himself with the dead in the place of death, he overcomes the crippling fear that is the real wrath of the Goddess. He wins Her boon of fearlessness by confronting Her heroically in a ritual context that insists on an acceptance of the forbidden." (David R. Kinsly, The Sword and the Flute [Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1975], pp. 147.)

Ya Baha!


Anonymous said...

You and your blog are a treasure!

Anonymous said...

A post from the past:

"Be patient toward all
that is unsolved in your heart
and try to love
the questions themselves
like locked rooms
and like books
that are written
in a very foreign tongue.

Do not now
seek the answers,
which cannot be given you
because you
would not be able
to live them.
And the point is,
to live

Live the questions
you will find them
without noticing it,
and live along
some distant day
into the answer."

~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

With love and respect for all seekers of truth,

Anonymous said...

It is a real pleasure to read this blog and the comments it elicits. Andrews post about the divine feminine raised another question in me, which I offer in peace to him and the group. You spoke about "transcending" the goddess. Do you also strive to "transcend" a male-faced aspect of the divine, or to "worship" him?

Anonymous said...

This is Andrew. In response to the question posted above: I did not speak about transcending the goddess per se, I spoke about the quest to transcend the fierce aspect of the divine feminine, which I would not anthropomorphize in the form of Kali or anyone else. The example of Kali was meant to illustrate how the Hindu tradition approaches this.

The point is to integrate "the shadow within" through confrontation and struggle with "the internal censor." One must also "transcend" the fierce aspect of the divine masculine ("the external censor," so to speak). In archetypal terms: anima and animus. Did Baha'u'llah accomplish this? I think he identified with the fierce aspect of the masculine and attempted to tame the feminine. Since I no longer believe that Baha'u'llah was the Manifestation of God, I don't care to add any more to this, except to say that I believe the revelation of the Bab was balanced by the recognition that all of humanity stands in relationship to God by virtue of divine creation, which is what I would call the revelation of Tahirih.

N. Wahid Azal said...

This sounds awfully like the New Age misinformation campaign and nonsense propagated by certain individuals who know neither the Point of the Bayan or Her Holiness.

Certain Baha'i sources have made much gratuitous use over a sub-group of Babis they claim who believed Qurra'tu'l-'Ayn to be an independent Point of Revelation during the cycle of the Bayan. No such thing is the case, and this reveals a profound (perhaps willful) ignorance of both actual Babi history as well as doctrine in order to bolster their own re-Imagined Baha'i narratives.

First, upon the death of Siyyid Kazim Rashti in early 1844, due to the fact that the succession to the Shaykhi leader in Iraq had been left unsettled, several simultaneous sources of authority arose one by one, the radical faction led by Mulla Husayn Bushru'i (otheres were led by Muhit Kirmani and Hajj Muhammad Karim Khan Kirmani). The first hand sources indicate that Tahirih was primarily allied to this circle in the Atabat (i.e. the Shi'i Shrine centres of Iraq) whence She sent the letter accompanying one of Her relatives allied to Mulla Husayn's radicals who several months later ended up becoming the Letters of the Living together with the Bab'ul-Bab in person in Shiraz (Tahirih in absentia). Given the charismatic nature of Qurra'tul-'Ayn - and more importantly given the fact that She was close to the household of Siyyid Kazim Rashti (not to mention that She was a notable factional defector from the Qazvini Baraghani family who were key, dogged hostile enemies of the entire Shaykhi school and its two initial leaders) -, after the 40 day retreat (iti'kaf) led by Mulla Husayn and upon that party soon after leaving Iraq, in the absence of Mulla Husayn She became the de facto leader of the radical Shaykhi faction in Iraq led by Mulla Husayn. Certain apologetic Baha'i sources (now echoed by people who know nothing of the history and with whitewashing agendas of their own) make this out to be the case that there was an independent Qurratiyyah faction in Karbala independent of the radical Shaykhi (soon to become Babi) faction led by Mulla Husayn. This is false and all the sources will prove it to be so.

Second, some of these same Baha'i sources then posit that in the 1847-52 period Tahirih became an independent locus of Revelation in her own right and cite the circle around Her as evidence. Firstly, this circle around Tahirih at this period was primarily composed of the womenfolk of the Nuri household in Takur, prominently amongst them Izziyyah Khanum Nuri (the author of tanbih'ul-na'imin/exhortation to those who slumber). Excepting the Musa Kalim household and that of Husayn 'Ali himself - and another who remained Muslim -, all of these people, to the last, were staunch Bayanis and defenders of the Mirrorhood and succession of Subh-i-Azal. I have put it out there several times both to the Baha'i so-called intellectual establishment as well as the New Age whitewashers to provide the contrary evidence proving the existence of the independent Qurratiyyun, and to date they have yet to provide this evidence. The longest surviving poem of Her Holiness, a panegyric to Subh-i-Azal (which I translated in full in 2004), irrefutably demonstrates that Qurra'tul-'Ayn harbored no such claims to being the locus of an independent Revelation to that of the Primal Point. The fact that the people who are the potential Qurratiyyun in this period of 1847-52 turn out all to be kinsfolk and solid partisans of Subh-i-Azal refutes it further.

Third, Baha'is have deliberately whitewashed or otherwise minimalized the role and function of the Babi hierarchy of the First Unity (the Point and the 18 Letters of the Living). This has to to with the fact that the Baha'is are simply too afraid to offer the full text of the Bayan for perusal - whether in the original or translation - since, again, this refutes their imagined muddying of the historical waters. The First Unity represents the Return of the 14 Infallibles of the Shi'ite hierophany (i.e. Muhammad, Fatima and the 12 Imams) plus the 4 Gates who interceded for the faithful with the "Hidden Imam" during the period of the Minor Occultation. Qurratu'l-'Ayn here stands as the Return of Fatima Zahra' (the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad) and the second Person (or 'shakhs nur'/Entity of Light) of the Hierophany of the 14 Infallibles of Twelver Shi'ism, i.e. the Theophanies as Personified Angelophanies of the Godhead. There are subtleties here regarding the role of Fatima/Tahrih that are missed by people because it evokes a sophisticated heterodox Islamic Shi'a cosmology that they refuse to look at.

This isn't direted at Andrew, but those who keep speaking of Tahirih's independent Revelation without understanding the Bayan in the first place would do well to put aside their Ramtha (J.Z. Knight) as a hermenuetical prism of choice and instead look at someone like Henry Corbin to understand what is going on, since from both the Bayan's perspective as well as Tahirih's what these people are engaging in is pure 'kufr' (infidelity) to the memory of this Great Woman!

New Age Westerners have this thing about insisting on reading their own fluffy-kumbaya-esque narrative into the lives, sources and history of non-Western peoples they have deemed to appropriate for whatever reason. My position on the New Age en toto is that it is pure counter-initiation as well as predicated upon the sanitized falsification of history and doctrine in all of its manifestations. The question of Qurra'tul-'Ayn aside, I am absolutely certain that Kashmiri Shaktas and those devoted to the cultus of the Kali-Ma and the Mahadevi in India agree here as well with what Western New Agers have done and continue to do with their great Tradition.

Wahid Azal

Anonymous said...

Wahid Axel wrote:

"Certain apologetic Baha'i sources (now echoed by people who know nothing of the history and with whitewashing agendas of their own) make this out to be the case that there was an independent Qurratiyyah faction in Karbala independent of the radical Shaykhi (soon to become Babi) faction led by Mulla Husayn. This is false and all the sources will prove it to be so."

This seems odd, since you yourself have made reference to (to quote your own expression from previous posts elsewhere) "the Qurratiyyah Babis" on occasion. I don't quite see how you can reference "the Qurratiyyah Babis" if no such "faction" ever existed.

Wahid also wrote:

"This isn't directed at Andrew, but those who keep speaking of Tahirih's independent Revelation without understanding the Bayan in the first place would do well to put aside their Ramtha (J.Z. Knight) as a hermeneutical prism of choice and instead look at someone like Henry Corbin to understand what is going on, since from both the Bayan's perspective as well as Tahirih's what these people are engaging in is pure 'kufr' (infidelity) to the memory of this Great Woman!"

Since you have yourself written elsewhere, "It is most unfortunate that Corbin, nor his successors like Christian Jambet, ever saw beyond their philosophical biases and thereby acknowledge the potential of Babism," I'm not sure how this would be helpful. As you are aware, Corbin took a rather dim view of the Bab, and an even dimmer view (to put it mildly) of Baha'u'llah (as well he should have).

Wahid also wrote:

"There are subtleties here regarding the role of Fatima/Tahirih that are missed by people because it evokes a sophisticated heterodox Islamic Shi'a cosmology that they refuse to look at."

As per the Fatimiya Sufi Order? I wonder who issued an ijaza for that one? Fatima herself? It must have been. Of course.


N. Wahid Azal said...

Andrewe "Carter" wrote:

"This seems odd, since you yourself have made reference to (to quote your own expression from previous posts elsewhere) "the Qurratiyyah Babis" on occasion. I don't quite see how you can reference "the Qurratiyyah Babis" if no such "faction" ever existed."

How does it seem odd when I stated that there is no independent Qurratiyyah faction to the radical Shaykhi faction led by Mulla Husayn? Hopefully the very important distinction here of the radical Shaykhi faction of Karbala and the sub-group of this faction led by Fatima Baraghani in the absence of Mulla Husayn is noted here. We're not talking pseudo-Zarandi or the even more convoluted God Passes By sort of argumentation here.

"Since you have yourself written elsewhere, "It is most unfortunate that Corbin, nor his successors like Christian Jambet, ever saw beyond their philosophical biases and thereby acknowledge the potential of Babism," I'm not sure how this would be helpful."

You might wish to quote the rest of what I had to say overall about Corbin and his students rather than gratuitously quoting a partial section of what I said. But for the record here is what I am critizing about Corbin's biases: that the Eschaton can never be fulfilled and the Imam can never empirically manifest other than subjectively to the gnostic in Hurqalya. Much of this had to do with his sometimes strict Heideggerianism. But other than that, as Lawson and Lambden and others have shown, a global understanding of the Bayan can only be approached with the phenomenology of a Henry Corbin. Perhaps you are unaware of Corbin's glowing treatement of Tahirih in En islam iranien vol. 4.

"As you are aware, Corbin took a rather dim view of the Bab, and an even dimmer view (to put it mildly) of Baha'u'llah (as well he should have)."

Corbin's dim view of Babism had to do with the manner in which the Bayan was respresented to him, exclusively through the prism of Bahaism, so his view is quite understandable. Furthermore, his friendship with Jalal Ashtiyani, Seyyed Husein Nasr and a distant paternal relative of mine, the Sarkar Agha Ibrahimi (head of the Kirmani Shaykhis), precluded Corbin from saying anything more or less.
He had virtually no access to the texts that the Bayani community have now made available which are very much part of the ethos of the same gnostic mileu of an en islam iranien that he spent his career writing and researching about. From those who knew him, however, and when one reads between the lines of what he did actually say, Corbin's views of Bahaism are quite accurately more dim than they were of the Bayan and Babism.

"As per the Fatimiya Sufi Order?"


"I wonder who issued an ijaza for that one?"

Definitely not anyone who issued questionable ijaazaat to Irina Tweedie or her pseudo-Naqshbandiyya fake lineage of Anglo-American New Age crackpots and dishonest, politically motivated cultural sanitizers in league with agendas set up by the likes of Moriah Funds and National Endowments for Democracy. Eminently the silsila/lineage of the Fatimiya Sufi Order is on far more solid grounds and bases than that of the Aurora Baha-cum-Baha'iyya bamboozlement. But, then again, as they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery.

"Fatima herself? It must have been. Of course."

It was indeed: Fatima Begum Zarin Tajj Umm Salmih Baraghani Qazvini aka Tahirih Qurra'tul-'Ayn, the 17th Letter of the Living, deemed the Return of Fatima, no less, i.e. my maternal great-great-great grandmother.

Wahid Azal

Anonymous said...

"Hopefully the very important distinction here of the radical Shaykhi faction of Karbala and the sub-group of this faction led by Fatima Baraghani in the absence of Mulla Husayn is noted here."

This is, I believe, what is known as a distinction without a difference.

"Fatima Begum Zarin Tajj Umm Salmih Baraghani Qazvini aka Tahirih Qurra'tul-'Ayn, the 17th Letter of the Living, deemed the Return of Fatima, no less, i.e. my maternal great-great-great grandmother."

Oh. You're certain of this, are you? In your Lulu Book "Liber Decatriarchia Mystica," you refer to Tahirih as "possibly a great ancestor of mine." Possibly? Possibly gratuitously? Either she is or she isn't. But now she's your great-great-great-grandmother. Possibly. Possibly maybe.

"Definitely not anyone who issued questionable ijaazaat to Irina Tweedie or her pseudo-Naqshbandiyya fake lineage of Anglo-American New Age crackpots."

Questionable? Puh-leez. See:

Nima! Klaatu barada nikto!

Anonymous said...

In his review of Abbas Amanat's book "Resurrection and Renewal: The Making of the Babi Movement in Iran, 1844-1850," Said Amir Arjomand, writing in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 58, No. 4 (Winter, 1990), pp. 691-695, notes that Tahirih "had acquired a following referred to as the Qurratiyya."

Muhsin 'Abd al-Hamid, in his al-Alusi mufassiran (Baghdad: Matba'at 'al-Ma'arif, 1968), writes that Shaykh Mahmud al-Alusi, the Mufti of Baghdad, in his last work (written in 1854) discusses and references the Shaykhiyya, Rashtiyya, Babiyya, and *Qurratiyya* movements.

There seems to be a consensus of scholarly opinion that there was, indeed, a Qurratiyya "faction." This opinion is clearly not shared by certain non-academics, which is understandable, given their resistance to the idea.

N. Wahid Azal said...

Uncritical appeal to authority by people who can't even read the original sources to even know what the authority actually said in the original. I am happy to debate any "Western [ideologically driven Bahai] academic" any time, any place on this question and any others, since as MacEoin pointed out two decades ago the proclivity of Bahai academics to propagate half-truths and engage in sleights of hand and commit woolly silences is legion.

Now Amanat and Alusi are only a consenus of two, and Alusi hardly imputes to Qurrat'ul-'Ayn what the Bahai sources do. Besides Denis MacEoin has already reviewed Amanat's book and pointed out some of the untenable historical flaws in it.

Shaykh Mahmoud Alusi's book taxonomizes various groups and sub-groups in Iraq (specifically Baghdad) during his term as mufti there. What he says in no way contradicts what I say: there was no separate Qurratiyya sub-group from the radical faction of the Shaykhis initially led (until his departure to Iran at which time Tahirih became its de facto head) by Mulla Husayn Bushru'i. Shaykh Alusi, an outsider, did not gloss the various sub-groups of the Shaykhis in Iraq. At the time of Siyyid Kazim Rashti's death (during the succession crisis) there were several Shaykhi groups and foci of authority, not one. There was a faction led by Muhit Kirmani, M. Gawhar and representatives of Hajj Muhammad Karim Khan Kirmani in Iraq (who was in Iran himself). Mulla Husayn represented the radicals, although initially leaning to the Kirmani (which is why he was on his way to Iran in the first place).

As Amanat himself points out (and then goes on to befuddle later on in the book) Qurra'tul-'Ayn was allied to Mulla Husayn and his partisans, and this is why she even ended up becoming a Letter of the Living in the first place. Now this same Amanat believes that the anonymous Qatil Karbala'i - who composed the first chronicle history of the Babis in the 1844-45 period covering Iraq - is Tahirih Herself. I think there is something here, MaCeoin and others dismiss it. If this be the case, then this bolsters my argument because there is virtually no mention of an independent Qurratiyyah as a sub-division of those radical Shaykhis who became Babis. In fact the author hardly speaks of Tahirih at all, which is what has led Amanat to believe that this Tahirih writing under a pseudonym and silent about herself. All of the sources and letters from the 1845-47 crises amongst the conservative Babis in Iraq over the role of the sabiqun (preceders) point to Tahirih and Mulla Husayn as co-leaders, especially since they were being attacked jointly as a pair - not separately. How this then remotely implies a separate Qurratiyyah faction, is beyond anyone who's actually cared to read all the sources in the original beyond the tendentious Bahai sources of historical falisification and pure fantasy. If you have evidence from original sources - not what Nabil Zarandi or Shoghi Effendi or any others say - please bring it forward.

According to Musa Amanat (the late father of Abbas Amanat who composed an exhaustive history of the Jewish Bahai community) my maternal grandfather's grandfather was Ishaq Baraghani Qazvini: the youngest son of Tahirih Qurrat'ul-'Ayn. Since Mr Andrew Carter aka Lobo Siete Truenos aka Kenji Konichi aka X and his ally in Perth seem to know better about my family tree, perhaps they can pontificate further in detail. What I have written above, is to the word what I put in LDM. Even with this, I stand on far more credible grounds than Andrew Carter aka Lobo Siete Truenos and his Baha'iyya cum Aurora Baha $$$ enterprise (who can't even decide in his various public persona and pseudonyms whether he's Native American, an Anglo from Seattle or of Lebanese descent).

Said Amir Arjomand merely rehearses what the Bahai sources say, and his book has overall been superseded.

Again, as stated earlier, imitation is the highest form of flattery. And any time, any place that Andrew Carter aka Lobo Siete Truenos and his ally in Perth wish to meet for a modern live public "mubahalih" session with me - beyond their contrived alliases, fake pseudonyms and false personas over the internet - do let me know.

Wahid Azal

N. Wahid Azal said...

The following is the longest surviving treatise at hand by Qurra'tul-'Ayn, entitled Ishraq-i-Rabbani (the Lordly/Divine Effusions/Illuminations):

This work is a standard defense and spirited apologia of the Essence of the Seven Letters and the new faith by the 17th Letter of the Living. Throughout this treatise nowhere does the author advance an independent claim of Her own or justify any exalted rank for Herself beyond being a 'sabiq' (preceder, i.e. Letter of the Living). This is a work which Amanat was conspicuously silent regarding, probably due to the fact that he had no access to it.

This work, together with Qurrat'ul-'Ayn's other remaining treatises (not to mention poetry), categorically refutes the whitewashing and manufactured fantasy narratives presently being advanced and foisted by certain quarters with largely political agendas.

MacEoin claims to be in personal possession of a similar work - but twice the length - and in similar vein. Again, according to MacEoin, in the longer work there is no evidence of any independent claim or exalted rank by Qurrat'ul-'Ayn advanced beyond Her role as a preceder and Letter of the Living.

So much for those " bahai academics" whose authority is being appealed to or their accurate reporting of history.

Now the political agenda by the Bahais in elevating the rank of this central Letter of the Living is faily simple. The overall Bahai claim rests on a flimsy and loaded assertion that the majority of the Babis were divided after July 1850 and so this somehow justifies Mirza Husayn 'Ali Nuri's coup d'etat against Subh-i-Azal in the mid 1860s (a full decade and a half after the events in question) in order to save Babism. Since the entirety of the remaining Babi leadership and the Letters of the Living - including Tahirih Qurra'tu'l-'Ayn - had sworn allegience to Subh-i-Azal as the Primal Point's legitimately appointed successor and Mirror, the only manner the Bahais have wiggled out of this uncomfortable fact is to either exaggerate or otherwise adduce multiple foci of authority in the Middle Babi period of 1850-63/7. Of course this line is fraught with its own dangers, since it reveals multiple previous claimants to the rank of He whom the Godhead shall make Manifest (i.e. Asadullah Khu'i Dayyan, Husayn Milani, Nabil Zarandi, et al) prior to Husayn 'Ali Nuri openly advancing his claim in Edirne in 1866-7 (not 1863). Withal, however, this still in no way establishes a separate group of Qurratiyyun in the post-1850 period that held Tahirih as an independent locus of Revelation, especially since the bulk of these people were family members of Subh-i-Azal and Husayn 'Ali Nari, all of whom (with only 3 exceptions) being stalwart supporters of Subh-i-Azal to the end.

Wahid Azal

Anonymous said...

"Andrew Carter aka Lobo Siete Truenos aka Kenji Konichi"

Andrew Carter is Lobo Siete Truenos and Kenji Konichi in precisely the same regard that Nima Hazini is the Mirror of the Godhead and the Return of Menakhare Nefertem, Melchizedek, Thrice Great Hermes, the True Face of the Sphinx at Giza, Subh-i-Azal, the great-great-great grandson of Tahirih Qurra'tul-'Ayn, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum. That is to say, not at all. Not possibly, not possibly maybe, but absolutely not even remotely. Dream on, O Ipsissimus of the Age, dream on!

Perhaps the, um, "attendants" who minister to His Divine Omniscience at his, ah, "institution" have simply misinformed him.

Since the rest of his pretensions and conceits are equally delusional and equally invalid, I'll forgo the invitation to participate in a "mubahalih" session with him and trust instead the academic scholarship of the recognized authorities in the field rather than the self-referential, hermetically-sealed rantings of socially misfit narcissists.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and for the record, Andrew and the members of the Sufi path he follows are as likely to encourage the use of ahayuasca as they are to endorse the contents of Nima Hazini's deleterious vanity press publication, "Liber Blah Blah."

Those who wish to have an "authentic experience" should meditate, not medicate. Otherwise, they're apt to end up as drug-addled soi-disant "esotericists" who are inebriated with the verbosity of their own effluvia, mistaking an exercise in literary flatulence for an esoteric magnum opus. A "high" one, indeed.

I'll desist from responding any further from Nima Hazini's barely coherent blather. I encourage him to continue his communion with himself and the world of his unique understanding.

N. Wahid Azal said...

"Andrew Carter is Lobo Siete Truenos and Kenji Konichi"

Indeed he is, and the psychotic reaction amply demonstrates it now. Since "Andrew Carter aka Lobo Siete Truenos aka Kenji Konichi's" proclivity for dishonesty is publicly documented on Tribe.Net and elsewhere, and as Bahaim of all persuasions are reared on a steady diet of dishonesty and sleaze, anyone with even a little detective skills will soon discover that these names are part and parcel of the same enterprise of bamboozlement.

As for my challenge for 'mubahilih', which bogus internet personas sans real-life backbone lack would obviously fail to meet, of course you can't meet it, just as your false profit failed to meet it in Edirne with Subh-i-Azal and then went on to lie about it in the whitewashed narrative histories of his creed.

And, finally, I thank you for your purchase of my book and its perusal, and offer this challenge which you can never meet: 'Produce a single Verse like unto it.' And speaking of soi-disant "New Age" crackpots who are inebriated with the verbosity of their own effluvia: as a now firmly established counter-initiate of the pseudo-Naqshbandi heritage of the fraud Irina Tweedie, your words speak amply about your bahaim'iyya and the bogus, fraudulent ijaza you claim. You are a total fraud, like the people who take you seriously, and I have your number!

makaru wa makar Allah wa Allahu khayr'ul-makerin!

Wahid Azal

N. Wahid Azal said...

PS - So much for your mastery of meditation BTW. And terminology lesson for the wannabe. In Sufism - nay in all of Islamic Esotericism - Tafakkur, Muraqaba and Dhikr are a completely different species of practice than what sanitizing, fluff bunny Western New Age crackpots understand by "meditation."

Wahid Azal

Anonymous said...

A final comment:

I wouldn't pay a penny for such inane drivel as "Liber Blah Blah." This vanity press "book" is available for preview on That's how I accessed the material I quoted earlier.

If Mr. Hazini wishes to believe that I am either Lobo Siete Truenos or Kenji Konichi, he has passed well beyond the stage of delusional misconception. I live in Canada, not the United States. Mr. Hazini's detective skills are, apparently, as reliable as his grasp on reality, which seems tentative at best.

Irena Tweedie was a Sufi teacher in the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi lineage of Indian Sufism, which has no connection whatsoever to the "Islamic Esotericism" described by Mr. Hazini. She was the real deal, unlike Mr. Hazini with his delusions of grandeur and pretensions to Messiahship.

The only number Mr. Hazini has is hopelessly disabled, as those who peruse his comments on various internet forums are already well aware. He has become a clownish caricature of himself, a pathetic figure who trots out to write his endless, mindless, baseless rants that elicit little else than ... gales of laughter!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
FreeRayLive said...

"The Prophet said that women totally dominate men of intellect and possessors of hearts. But ignorant men dominate women, for they are shackled by an animal ferocity. They have no kindness, gentleness or love, since animality dominates their nature. Love and kindness are human attributes; anger and sensuality belong to the animals. She is the radiance of God, she is not your beloved. She is a creator - you could say that she is not created."
- Jalal al-Din Rumi

W displays ignorance in the basics of Islamic esoteric knowledge being incapable of understanding the parallel of Tahirih and Layla (the poets name for the Godhead).

I wonder if he can comprehend that 'Allah' is not a gendered term for the Godhead even though it is expressed in Arabic as 'He is God' (Huwa).

If W could get past myopic levels of comprehension and move into esoteric renderings he might not try so hard to distort the truth of Qorratulain. Maybe he does this because he thinks he is related to her through her son who she abandoned in preference to her mission. Maybe he has issues with his mother and transfers resentment to Qorratulain and her position in revelation by postering with distorted spins on the works of scholars in the field. He sure sounds scared, little does he know that the truth could set him free.

Priscilla said...

Anonymous and Wahid Azal:

With regret, I will delete any more comments that continue this spat. This is not the appropriate forum for a quarrel of this nature.


N. Wahid Azal said...

I rest my case regarding Irina Tweedie and her assorted counter-initiatic spawns of the New Age subversion of all authentic Tradition - what Rene Guenon dubbed "satanic." If anything, this psychotic display has incontrovertibly proven it.

Dear Priscila, if possible kindly delete also the comments by the "Pee-Wee" who is using my family's name in order to slander.

Thank you.

Wahid Azal

N. Wahid Azal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Priscilla said...

I’ve granted Wahid’s request that I delete the comment by “Pee Wee”. In the interest of transparency, I’ve also left the comment in which he made that request.


N. Wahid Azal said...

Anonymous said...

As to the Month of Questions, here's my understanding. Since it is an attribute of the Deity, I don't think it has to do with us making inquiry of the Manifestation. I think it has to do with the Questions that God asks people. Here's a verse from the Qur'an that bears on it: "He cannot be questioned for His acts, but they will be questioned (for theirs)." (21:23, Yusuf Ali translation). This principle is more often translated in the Baha'i Writings as people being "asked of their doings" and God "not being asked of His doings." In the Seven Valleys Baha'u'llah quotes a verse from the Qur'an where God tells man to "read the book of your own self." This has to do with self-knowledge, but I think it also has to do with "bringing oneself to account each day," which is this same kind of "questioning", i.e. something really cosmic and ultimate. Also if you do a word search in the Book of Certitude for the word "asking" there is a discussion of how God judges humans, and the nature of the "asking", that it is not a verbal questioning. I also think that the Story of Joseph, where Joseph's brothers are summoned to his presence and he questions them, symbolizes this ultimate kind of questioning that each Prophet of God does towards humanity in each age. On May 23, 1844 Mulla Husayn asked the Bab to resolve the ambiguities in a treatise he wrote "bearing upon the abstruse and hidden teachings propounded by Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim." The Bab looked at it, then said, "It is for God to test His servants, and not for His servants to judge Him in accordance with their deficient standards. Were I to fail to resolve your perplexities, could the Reality that shines within Me be regarded as powerless, or My knowledge be accused as faulty? Nay, by the righteousness of God! it behoves, in this day, the peoples and nations of both the East and the West to hasten to this threshold, and here seek to obtain the reviving grace of the Merciful." (The Dawn-Breakers, p. 59)

Mrs.Love said...

WOW. I am floored. My poor child is getting 0 attention from me because I can't stop reading this blog. I must say, although it is mostly "greek to me", that I've never heard such an incredibly impressive and highly intellectual flaming in my life! (Of the quibblers below) LOL! I wish I understood all the Arabic names and references so it made sense to me.

Now that this is out of the way.... I loved your comments on Questions and the follow up comments of others. THIS is what I became a Bahai for - or the premise in which I was introduced to the Faith - open honest questioning! I don't know if it's because I am from Alaska where the Faith has a more grassroots feeling and our own separate NSA... but I've never been tossed for asking questions - in fact I've been met with love and acceptance on all fronts. Given that, I must admit that since I've become a Wayward Bahai (my own label) I have removed myself from Bahai Life to protect others and the reputation of the Faith. So, somewhere along the line I learned that being "out of line" is unacceptable to the greater community - so I respectfully retreated. I never felt pushed though. Interesting.

I have been in a deep spiritual quandary for a long time since departing from Bahai community over 7 years ago. I did not depart because I ever felt "betrayed by Bahai's" but questioned my own understanding and ability to belong. I've been pushed back towards my deeper investigation partly because of a Russian Orthodox Priest who seems intent on converting me. The more I learn about Orthodoxy the more I am disinclined towards religion - for myself. But the love of God remains constant and strong. My desire to understand and question continues. I believe being a Bahai allows me to question - as I understand it - anything and everything and I do and have.

The other day I was lamenting to my (non-religious) husband "I wish I had someone I could talk to about these spiritual issues, someone who can understand and contemplate them with me." Two days later I find your blog, Pricilla. This is just what I needed. Thank you for being here and speaking your mind and asking your questions.