Monday, December 29, 2008

Failing to Recognize Bahá'u'lláh by Jews is their “spiritual blindness”

When Christ appeared, twenty centuries ago, although the Jews were eagerly awaiting His Coming, and prayed every day, with tears, saying: "O God, hasten the Revelation of the Messiah," yet when the Sun of Truth dawned, they denied Him and rose against Him with the greatest enmity, and eventually crucified that divine Spirit, the Word of God, and named Him Beelzebub, the evil one, as is recorded in the Gospel....

(J. E. Esslemont, "Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era", 5th rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987), p. 6)

A Bahá'í asked : "How do I respond when a Jew says we are anti-Semitic because we believe the Jews crucified Christ?" He notes that Jews defend Judaism by saying that the Romans, not the Jews, crucified Christ.

In responding to such a criticism it would be helpful to point out that followers -- and the clergy in particular -- of all the religions have opposed the coming of the succeeding Manifestation. The Bahá'í writings point out the crucifixion of Jesus to emphasize not the criminal act itself but the spiritual blindness of a people who rejected the very Messiah they sought, for although the Romans committed the actual act of crucifying Christ, the crucifixion was caused by the rejection of Jesus by the Jews and their accusation of Him before Pontius Pilate.

Such spiritual blindness has not been limited to the Jews, but has been witnessed in every Dispensation. Thus, in the following extract Bahá'u'llah addresses the Jews as the crucifiers of Jesus, and similarly addresses the followers of the Christian, Islamic and Bábí Faiths. It is not the Jews in particular who have failed to recognize the Manifestations of God, but all of humanity throughout the Dispensations of the Prophetic Cycle. It is not the actual crime that is emphasized, but the relationship between the people and the promised Manifestation of God, and not the material aspect of the rejection but its more fundamental spiritual significance.

O Jews! If ye be intent on crucifying once again Jesus, the Spirit of God, put Me to death, for He hath once more, in My person, been made manifest unto you. Deal with Me as ye wish, for I have vowed to lay down My life in the path of God. I will fear no one, though the powers of earth and heaven be leagued against Me. Followers of the Gospel! If ye cherish the desire to slay Muhammad, the Apostle of God, seize Me and put an end to My life, for I am He, and My Self is His Self.

Do unto Me as ye like, for the deepest longing of Mine heart is to attain the presence of My Best-Beloved in His Kingdom of Glory. Such is the Divine decree, if ye know it. Followers of Muhammad! If it be your wish to riddle with your shafts the breast of Him Who hath caused His Book the Bayán to be sent down unto you, lay hands on Me and persecute Me, for I am His Well-Beloved, the revelation of His own Self, though My name be not His name. I have come in the shadows of the clouds of glory, and am invested by God with invincible sovereignty. He, verily, is the Truth, the Knower of things unseen. I, verily, anticipate from you the treatment ye have accorded unto Him that came before Me. To this all things, verily, witness, if ye be of those who hearken. O people of the Bayán! If ye have resolved to shed the blood of Him Whose coming the Báb hath proclaimed, Whose advent Muhammad hath prophesied, and Whose Revelation Jesus Christ Himself hath announced, behold Me standing, ready and defenseless, before you. Deal with Me after your own desires.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing ,Trust, 1983), sec. 47, pp. 101-2)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust

References in the Baha'i Writings to Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust
by Research Department of the Universal House of Justice

In an email message of 8 July 1998, Mr. xxx asks for "any and all available references to anti-Semitism" in the Bahá'í Writings, especially in the correspondence of Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice. Furthermore, he asks if there are any references to the Holocaust in the Bahá'í Writings. We reply as follows.

We have been able to find very few references specifically dealing with anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. However, we share with Mr. xxx the attached compilation entitled "The Holocaust and the Greater Plan of God", [on line here] which was prepared in response to a question as to whether the Holocaust was part of the Greater Plan of God. In a letter on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer dated 3 February 1988, we read that the "Bahá'í attitude to the Holocaust and the massive sufferings inflicted on mankind by the World Wars is clearly set forth by Shoghi Effendi in The Promised Day is Come...." Extracts 3 and 8 of the attached compilation are such references taken from The Promised Day is Come. Further, Mr. xxx may be interested in the following two extracts from letters written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice regarding the Jewish people:

"It would be impossible for any community, much less the Bahá'í community, to forget the suffering of the Jewish people throughout a long period of history. As you know, Bahá'u'lláh, like the Prophets before Him, stated in His Writings that the Jews would return to their homeland, and this fulfillment of their heart's desire has taken place. Moreover, 'Abdu'l-Bahá has confirmed that the travail of the Jewish people is now to be ended. He wrote in a Tablet: "... The ignominy which Israel has suffered for well-nigh twenty-five hundred years will now be changed into eternal glory, and in the eyes of all, the Jewish people will become glorified to such an extent as to draw the jealousy of its enemies and the envy of its friends.

"However, beyond this lies the supreme reality that the Manifestation of God for our age spent the latter part: of His life in that area of the world in which the Jews have today established a State. The Centre of our Faith, its Shrines and administrative headquarters are established there. From these two distinct points of view, you can see that it is impossible for the Jews to be forgotten in a Bahá'í context. The blessings which will be conferred upon them for what has occurred in the Holy Land in this new dispensation will become increasingly evident." (2 January 1992, to an individual believer)

It is important to bear in mind that in the Writings it is not, Judaism, per se, which is criticized. On the contrary, like the other great religions of the world, Judaism is a divinely revealed system, albeit as with all previous dispensations it has been overtaken by an ineluctable superannuation. As recounted in the Book of Certitude, it is principally the clerics who, from age to age, have misled their followers and contributed to confusion and lack of true understanding. This benighted condition, induced by the leaders of religion, has never been limited to a single people. It prevails at the advent of each of God's Messengers and is the primary cause of their persecution.

Accordingly, Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá speak against the spiritual blindness which led the Jews to denounce Christ to Pontius Pilate, leading to His crucifixion. The purpose is mainly didactic, to illustrate the ever-recurring patterns enacted in the dialogue between mankind and the successive Messengers of God.

However, in our time, it is the followers of Muhammad, not the Jews, whose malevolence subjected the Supreme Manifestation of God to incalculable suffering and who are thus the object of divine judgement.

by Research Department of the Universal House of Justice