Thursday, March 3, 2011

Teaching the Baha'i Faith in Israel

The mystery of not teaching the Baha'i Faith in Israel is getting deeper. The question is being asked from every corner of the Baha'i World. The only document which prohibits the teaching in Israel is the Message of the Universal House of Justice dated 29 June 1995:


The Universal House of Justice has received your email message dated 29 June 1995 and we have been asked to respond.

You have asked how the policy of not teaching Israelis applies in the situation in which you have contact with an Israeli via an “interactive relay chat” (IRC) connection. The House of Justice has not asked the friends to avoid contact with Israelis. When you discover that a person you are in contact with via IRC is an Israeli, you should feel free to maintain friendly contact, but you should not teach the Faith to him. If he has already developed a personal interest in the Faith and seeks more information, you should refer him to the Offices of the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa. For your information, the people in Israel have access to factual information about the Faith, its history and general principles. Books concerning the Faith are available in libraries throughout Israel, and Israelis are welcome to visit the Shrines and the surrounding gardens. However, in keeping with a policy that has been strictly followed since the days of Bahá’u'lláh, Bahá’ís do not teach the Faith in Israel. Likewise, the Faith is not taught to Israelis abroad if they intend to return to Israel. When Israelis ask about the Faith, their questions are answered, but this is done in a manner which provides factual information without stimulating further interest.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

  • Note that two things are missing from this statement:
  • There is no direct quote from Baha’''llah specifying that we should not teach the Faith in Israel, and
  • There is no direct reference to any Israeli law forbidding the teaching of the Faith either. Indeed, in all my Baha'i life, I never saw any such thing myself, even when I asked about the matter. It seems to be all a myth made up to hide something!
  • In fact many Presidents/Prime Minister of Israel have visited our World Centre and always showered love affection and generosity towards the Baha'is and the Baha'i Faith.
  • Residents of Israel are allowed to become members of the other sects of Baha'is.

Shimon Peres, the then Foreign Minister of Israel, views one of the models of the Terraces Project, during his visit to the Baha'i World Centre on 4th August 1994.


Burl Barer said...

I am a Baha'i of Jewish heritage, and author of ONE FATHER MANY CHILDREN: Judaism and the Baha'i Faith. First of all, Baha'u'llah very specifically tells us to regard a message from the Universal House of Justice as a message from Him. Hence to oppose the House of Justice is to oppose Baha'u'llah. If the Universal House of Justice advises us on the proper method of dealing with residents of Israel who are interested in the Faith, the advice of the UHJ is the correct advice, and as Jews who have recognized the validity of Baha'u'llah we must remain firm in the Covenant of Abdu'l Baha and regard the advice of the House of Justice as free from error. To imply otherwise is a direct affront to Abdu'l Baha and Baha'u'llah.
Thank you however, for all the interesting tidbits of Baha'i/Jewish history.

Anonymous said...

Since one of the foundations of the Faith is unity, Baha'u'llah, in his wisdom, has removed any taint of having hidden motives by His prohibition of actively teaching in the Holy Land. The same can be said of only accepting funds from Baha'is. Rest assured that the Faith IS being taught in Israel but it's being done by example.

Anonymous said...

"Other sects of Baha'is - what on earth do you mean?

Baquia said...

by other sects, the author means breakaway groups, they are very small but do exist and include Azalis, for more information, see wikipedia

the Baha'i world center has a designated person who is the only individual who has permission to dialogue and communicate with these groups

if you walk around enough in Haifa or Akka you may just run into folks who wear the greatest name necklace but who are not technically Baha'is as you or I are

hope that answers your question