Violation of Bahai Teachings by the UHJ
Dear Bahai Readers,
We have been always told that the Bahai Faith is a universal religion for the present age and that a manifestation of God comes after every 1000 years to revive the word of God and keep the spirit of faith fresh by aligning laws tuned with the times. However, it seems that UHJ has taken over to change the commandment and issue ordinances to keep in tune with changing times within 100 years itself (without any manifestation appearing)!!
UHJ in its pursuit of popular support has thus put ethics and morality on the back-burner. As a humble devoted Bahai, I find a number of instances of lack of proper governance and conduct on part of UHJ. Hence with the sole purpose of rectification of the Faith highest body, I have embarked to bring to the attention of the community such instances through a series of articles. The first of the series of articles is titled ’All is fair in love…’
Background: It is reported that youngsters deciding their own life partners is becoming common. Very often they elope with their lovers and enter into a civil marriage. In an official communication to the NSA of Burma in 2011, the UHJ has taken an unexpected liberal stand on the issue and in fact reprimanded the NSA for its tough stand. An interesting analysis is presented on related issues as a comparison of what should be the response in line with Eqaan & Aqdas and what was the response of today's UHJ for the benefit of readers: UHJ justifies immoral character behind the barricades of love of the administrative body and innocence of the culprit. Then why do not UHJ says that while taking a declaration one should check how much one knows about the laws of the Faith. This is just justification Saying Bahais you do whatever you like but increase the Bahai number.
The ruling of Eqaan & Aqdas
The ruling of UHJ of 21st Century
Disregard for Baha'i law by community members
Should not be tolerated at any cost
Develop a warm and loving relationship with the believers in its community. (this approach has resulted in more love relationships by Bahai youth)
Violation of Bahai Laws
Should not be accepted under any circumstances
Should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Assembly should examine the specific circumstances of each situation, taking into account factors such
as the extent of a believer's prior understanding of the law …...
(means that UHJ feels laws are outdated individuals are more important)
Violation of rule: Is there a concept of chance?
Violation is a violation and there is no difference in the first and second time. A Bahai is supposed to be a responsible member of the community and humanity.
Only in extreme circumstances, where a person, ignoring all admonishments from the Assembly, persists in his actions and knowingly and flagrantly violates a law, would it be necessary for the Assembly to consider a partial or full suspension of administrative rights. (in reality, there are no admonishments only goody-goody behaviour)
How the assembly should be regarded
As a point for reference by the locals. Word of assembly is final, as its authority is from UHJ.
This is a harshly judgemental and punitive approach.
The Assembly should aspire to be regarded by the members of the community as a loving parent, wise in its understanding of the varying degrees of maturity of those entrusted to its care, compassionate in dealing with the problems which arise as a result of any shortcomings, ever prepared to guide them to the correct path, and very patient as they strive to effect the necessary changes in their behaviour. (read: be compromising in approach, strive to be popular rather than correct)
Laws relating to chastity, marriage and divorce.
Need to be respected and strictly observed and implemented
Be flexible and liberal in approach. With this approach, the Faith members would voluntarily accept. (what wishful thinking!!!)
Dear Readers, it is clear that the drift of UHJ would dilute the Faith Principles in no time. We need not wait for a new manifestation. We are already having a dynamic manifestation in form of UHJ who is ever keen to change with times. Wonder how many such out-of-wedlock relations exist in the UHJ? It is high time the UHJ becomes more quality conscious and avoid dancing to the public tune, else the fabric of Faith would be destroyed. Are Bahais in Iran giving so much sacrifice for this? Is Bahai blood so cheap? How long will the hypocrisy continue?
From a chip of the old block
ORIGINAL LETTER OF UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE.
(Courtesy: The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Union of Myanmar)
13 January 2011
Transmitted by email: email@example.com
The National Spiritual Assembly of
the Baha'is of the Union of Myanmar
Dear Baha'i Friends,
The Universal House of Justice has received your email letter dated 15 November 2010 regarding the prevalence of elopement among Baha'i youth. It is understood that this is an issue which your community has faced for many years despite sanctions being placed on believers who show disregard for Baha'i law. To assist you in your ongoing deliberations on this serious matter, we have been asked to provide you with the following comments, which address the general topic as well as the specific issue you raise.
The aim of any Spiritual Assembly should be to develop a warm and loving relationship with the believers in its community so that it can most effectively nurture and encourage them in the acquisition of a deeper understanding of the Teachings and can assist them to follow the Baha'i principles in their personal conduct. The Assembly should aspire to be regarded by the members of the community as a loving parent, wise in its understanding of the varying degrees of maturity of those entrusted to its care, compassionate in dealing with the problems which arise as a result of any shortcomings, ever prepared to guide them to the correct path, and very patient as they strive to effect the necessary changes in their behaviour. Such an approach is far removed from the harshly judgemental and punitive approach which so often characterizes the administration of law in the wider society.
The House of Justice feels that violations of Baha'i law, even when they involve blatant disregard for fundamental verities of the Faith, should be considered on a case-by-case basis. This means that an Assembly should examine the specific circumstances of each situation, taking into account factors such as the extent of a believer's prior understanding of the law in question and whether he is willing to rectify the error quickly. Only in extreme circumstances, where a person, ignoring all admonishments from the Assembly, persists in his actions and knowingly and flagrantly violates a law, would it be necessary for the Assembly to consider a partial or full suspension of administrative rights. In this regard, it may be helpful to consider the following, stated in a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi.
The general basis for the deprivation of voting rights is of course gross immorality and open opposition to the administrative functions of the Faith, and disregard for the laws of personal status; and even then it is the duty of the National Assembly, before exercising this sanction, to confer with the individuals involved in a loving manner to help them overcome the problem; second, to warn them that they must desist; three, to issue further warnings if the original warnings are not followed; and finally, if there seems no other way to handle the matter, then a person may be deprived of voting rights.
The circumstances you describe in your community demonstrate the kinds of judgement that an Assembly must exercise in upholding the laws of the Faith in its jurisdiction. The first requirement lies in having a sound approach for the general education of the believers in the laws of the Faith, among which are the laws relating to chastity, marriage and divorce. This is important because there is such a widespread attitude in non-Baha'i society that accords little respect to the formalities of marriage. Any attempt to educate the community in the laws of the Faith, however, will need to be set in the context of the greater purpose of the Revelation to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. Baha'is should understand not only what it is they should do, but why these actions are important for the spiritual and moral health both of individuals and of society. While this approach--necessarily gradual and long-term--proceeds, Assemblies must use good judgement in applying the laws, bearing in mind their responsibility to lovingly and patiently educate new believers and younger generations within the Faith.
Thus, the Spiritual Assembly, both national and local, has a vital twofold responsibility. It should aim not only to apply the laws of Baha'u'llah with justice and firmness but to increase the believers' understanding of, and devotion to, these laws and principles and above all to raise their awareness of the significance of the Revelation. In this way, they will obey the laws not through fear of punishment but out of love for Baha'u'llah.
In your deliberations on how to educate believers in the Baha'i law of marriage, you will no doubt wish to consult with Counsellor Myint Zaw Oo, as this is a matter vital to the spiritual health of the community.
With loving Baha'i greetings,
Department of the Secretariat
cc: International Teaching Centre
Board of Counsellors in Asia
Counsellor Myint Zaw Oo
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