Why did 'Abdu'l-Baha have such a low opinion of Africa and Africans?

It is interesting that Africa is the only place the Faith is really succeeding in light of 'Abdu'l-Baha's extremely disparaging comments about Africa. Even most people who have left the Faith like myself do not seem to really ever comment on the fact 'Abdu'l-Baha's comments are really quite shocking.

To his credit he doesn't attribute the inferiority of Africans he describes to genetics but he really comes across very much of his time, and even those who would spin his comments in the best positive light (viewing them as encouragement to "civilize" the ignorant Africans) seem ignorant as to how advanced much of African civilization was even dating back to prehistory.

Here are some of his comments regarding Africa:

“The inhabitants of a country like Africa are all as wandering savages and wild animals; they lack intelligence and knowledge; all are uncivilized; not one civilized and wise man is to be found among them. On the contrary, consider the civilized countries, the inhabitants of which are living in the highest state of culture and ethics, solidarity and inter-dependence; possessing, with few exceptions, acute power of comprehensions and sound mind. Therefore, it is made clear and evident that the superiority and inferiority of minds and comprehensions arises from education and cultivation, or from their lack and absence. A bent branch is straightened by training and the wild fruit of the jungle is made the product of the orchard. An ignorant man by learning becomes knowing, and the world of savagery, through the bounty of a wise educator, is changed into a civilized kingdom. The sick is healed by medication, and the poor man, by learning the arts of commerce, is made rich. The follower, by attaining the virtues of the leader, becomes great, and the lowly man, by the education of the teacher, rises from the nadir of oblivion to the zenith of celebrity.” These are the proofs of the wise men.

The prophets also acknowledge this opinion . . .

https://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/TAB/tab-625.html

One may claim 'Abdu'l-Baha is merely giving a speculative comment and not his own views when he goes on about not one civilized African existing here, but he attributes these comments to the "republic of wise men" clearly showing he is viewing this comment about Africans acting like wild animals in a positive light. His comments in Some Answered Questions and elsewhere strongly support the view that the view of Africans as wandering savage animals is very much a view he shares and endorses:

Consider how often murder occurs among the barbarians of Africa; they even kill one another in order to eat each other’s flesh and blood! Why do not such savageries occur in Switzerland? The reason is evident: it is because education and virtues prevent them.

https://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-78.html.utf8

All these brutal qualities exist in the nature of man. A man who has not had a spiritual education is a brute. Like the savages of Africa, whose actions, habits and morals are purely sensual, they act according to the demands of nature to such a degree that they rend and eat one another.

https://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-29.html.utf8

If we study human beings such as the aboriginal tribes of central Africa, who have been reared in complete subjection to nature’s rule, we will find them deficient indeed. They are without religious education; neither do they give evidences of any advance whatever toward civilization. They have simply grown and developed in the natural plane of barbarism. We find them bloodthirsty, immoral and animalistic in type to such an extent that they even kill and devour each other. It is evident, therefore, that the world of nature unassisted is imperfect because it is a plane upon which the struggle for physical existence expresses itself.

https://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/PUP/pup-119.html.utf8

If man himself is left in his natural state, he will become lower than the animal and continue to grow more ignorant and imperfect. The savage tribes of central Africa are evidences of this. Left in their natural condition, they have sunk to the lowest depths and degrees of barbarism, dimly groping in a world of mental and moral obscurity.

...

But left in his natural condition without education and training, it is certain that he will become more depraved and vicious than the animal, even to the extreme degree witnessed among African tribes who practice cannibalism.

https://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/PUP/pup-101.html.utf8

If you should leave a man uneducated and barbarous in the wilds of Africa, would there be any doubt about his remaining ignorant?

https://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/PUP/pup-97.html.utf8

What is the difference between the people of America and the inhabitants of central Africa?

All are human beings. Why have the people of America advanced to a high degree of civilization while the tribes of central Africa remain in extreme ignorance and barbarism? The difference and distinction between them is the degree of education. This is unquestioned. The people of Europe and America have been uplifted by education and training from the world of defects and have ascended toward the realm of perfection, whereas the people of Africa, denied educational development, remain in a natural condition of illiteracy and deprivation, for nature is incomplete and defective.

https://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/PUP/pup-105.html.utf8

Therefore, his race should everywhere be grateful, for no greater evidence of humanism and courageous devotion could be shown than the white man has displayed. If the blacks of the United States forget this sacrifice, zeal and manhood on the part of the whites, no ingratitude could be greater or more censurable. If they could see the wretched conditions and surroundings of the black people of Africa today, the contrast would be apparent and the fact clearly evident that the black race in America enjoys incomparable advantages.

https://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/PUP/pup-45.html.utf8

How do Baha'is reconcile this? Other than the standard religious line of "Beloved Leader knows best, accept his thoughts and shut up or excommunication for you".

If one respects 'Abdu'l-Baha as a philosopher then his comments are quite progressive for the time and reflect a big improvement on the view of full eugenicists but by modern standards his comments are very ignorant.

The Baha'i community paints its efforts in Africa as being about empowerment and empowering locals to take charge of their own spiritual development. How is this is any way reconcilable with 'Abdu'l-Baha's firm "White Man's Burden" view that Africans have no morals and must be civilized through education being given to them?

https://www.reddit.com/r/FreeSpeechBahai/comments/pi2z6o/why_did_abdulbaha_have_such_a_low_opinion_of/

Finding out it is a big lie that the Baha'i Faith ever taught religious tolerance


The only people Baha'is practice tolerance towards are religions more powerful than themselves. If it is a religious minority who has no power, true Baha'is will be intolerant of them.

Think of how Baha'is treated splinter groups such as Muhammad Ali's sect, or the Caravan of the East and West. For a while I thought maybe this was just a case of Baha'i's acting contrary to Baha'i principles, until I found out that this intolerance even existed in Baha'u'llah's time.

When I read the Baha'i history, it seems like Baha'is persecuted Azalis just because Azalis disagreed with Baha'u'llah's religion and because Azalis were too small and insignificant of a sect for anyone to care about them. Even though Baha'is control the narrative, I don't see evidence of Azalis persecuting or killing Baha'is like the Baha'is did to Azalis.

So the theme I see in the Baha'i Faith is that it is a religion that gains power by "maintaining unity". And the way it "maintains unity" is by eliminating those different from themselves, who don't have enough power to defend themselves. This seems to be the core teaching that Baha'is have been practicing from the time of Baha'u'llah.

First sentence of Baha'i Faith article on Wikipedia vs. first sentence of Kitab i Aqdas


First sentence of Baha'i Faith article on Wikipedia:

The Baháʼí Faith (/bəˈhɑːʔiː, bəˈhaɪ/; Persian: بهائی‎ Bahāʼi) is a relatively new religion[a] teaching the essential worth of all religions

First sentence of Kitab i Aqdas:

The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation. Whoso achieveth this duty hath attained unto all good; and whoso is deprived thereof hath gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed.
If everything you do is worthless if you are not a Baha'i, this means all religions other than the Baha'i Faith are completely worthless. Therefore, the first sentence from the Wikipedia article and the first sentence from the Aqdas are completely contradictory.

Baha'u'llah's polygamy: Excuse of following customs of Islam invalid according to reasoning of Shoghi Effendi


The Baha'i justification for Baha'u'llah marrying his first cousin and a woman given to him by a Babi in addition to the teenager he first married has always been "It was a different time" or "He was following the rules of Islam".

The first issue with this justification is that the Bab reduced the number of wives allowed to two, and since Baha'u'llah was a Babi when he married Gawhar doing so violated the law of the Bab he should have been adhering too.

The second issue is that while most Baha'is don't know this 'Abdu'l-Baha's explanation that when Baha'u'llah said two wives in the Aqdas he secretly meant one is an explanation which was also retroactively applied to Islam's four wife limit by Shoghi Effendi:

"Concerning the question of plurality of wives among the Muslims: This practice current in all Islamic countries does not conform with the explicit teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. For the Qur'an, while permitting the marriage of more than one wife, positively states that this is conditioned upon absolute justice. And since absolute justice is impossible to enforce, it follows, therefore, that polygamy cannot and should not be practised. The Qur'an, therefore, enjoins monogamy and not polygamy as has hitherto been understood."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 29, 1939, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1672)

In light of this the justification of following the customs of his time even in regards to Islam is not true, since Shoghi Effendi argues Islam advocated for monogamy.

As such Baha'u'llah, according to Shoghi Effendi's commentary, did not understand the Qur'an or was disobeying it. Furthermore Baha'u'llah is meant to be the Almighty. The argument he HAD to follow custom and marry his first cousin certainly is not in keeping with the view he has command over all creation. Maybe one could argue as Baha'u'llah was superhuman he could uphold absolute justice this doesn't fit the facts, which are that in Israel Baha'u'llah lived with his cousin in an opulent Mansion while his first wife was kept in the city, and his third wife he abandoned in the Ottoman Empire for years before summoning her to join him in Israel.

As such the only REAL justification for Baha'u'llah having three wives is that he felt he could do whatever he wanted and that no rules applied to him. Not a trait one would expect in the source of all good in the world and a sign of hypocrisy given he was telling others to do as he said but not as he did. "God works in mysterious ways" indeed.

Prediction Attempt for Universal House of Justice election 2023


Everyone knows the UHJ is stocked by the ITC but I think there are a few additional factors which allow for the elections to be even more closely predicted.

The first is what dictates when UHJ members resign (no incumbent has ever been unseated). In politics "pressures of age" or "wanting to spend time with family" is a euphemism for secret scandal but I think the internal House politics are much more mundane than that. If one looks at the ages of outgoing House members before 2005 all House members resigned at the next International Convention after turning 80 (with the exception of Fatheazam who retired at 78 presumably as he would have passed 80 by serving another term).

Where this takes a turn into internal politics is with the 2005 by-election. This was the first time UHJ members resigned during a term and was basically unprecedented. Both Borrah Kavelin and Lutfullah Hakim were on the brink of death and were still asked to serve out their terms to avoid having to serve a by-election, so one wonders why the sudden urgency?

This is purely my speculation but I believe that the retirement age of the House was lowered to 70 in 2005. Furthermore I believe this was done to allow Farzam Arbab to seize control over the decision making process. Ian Semple was an inaugural member of the House giving him seniority over Arbab and a special place in the hearts of the Baha'is and Douglas Martin was likewise notable as he ruled Baha'i studies in North America with an iron fist and had headed the Office of Public Information which meant he liaised with NSA's regularly for years before getting elected giving him considerable influence in the community (such was his influence he managed to achieve the impossible and get voted onto the House without serving on the ITC).

I believe both Semple and Martin would have adamantly opposed the Ruhiization of the Faith in light of the fact Martin wanted to academicize the Faith (see the uni textbook he authored) and Ian Semple was radically liberal (by the standards of Baha'is in the hierarchy) in his outlook on the Faith. Both had also been elected without serving on the ITC and being inundated with statistical propaganda and molded by the pressure of the multi-level marketing mentality and corporate ladder climbing required to make ones way up the ranks of the "Appointed Arm". However as true believers once being expelled from the consultation chamber they would not have ever disclosed their misgivings.

Think I'm crazy? In December 2005, immediately after Martin and Semple were 'retired' Ruhi was made mandatory: https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/the-universal-house-of-justice/messages/20051228_001/1#069472713

Glenford Mitchell retired after reaching 70 in 2008, however Hooper Dunbar and Peter Khan stayed on only to suddenly retire in 2010 again in the middle of a term. These three were extremely well beloved by the community for various reasons, had considerable influence, and strong opinions and interests in Baha'i development outside of the "institute process" and were also legitimately competent in their fields outside of the Faith. Khan did pass away in 2011 so health reasons are plausible, but Dunbar is still going strong and regularly criticizes the Institute Process and laments the decline in the community in talks which are shared on his youtube channel.

Obviously cannot prove it, but I believe the 2010 by-election confirms that through "loving consultation" Arbab lowered the retirement age to 70 forcing everyone off the House who was not a diehard true believer in his crusade to Mormonize the Faith.

With all that waffle out of the way, on to predicting!

Of the current House members Stephen Birkland and Stephen Hall will be 70 in 2023 and will almost certainly retire. I do not know the ages of the others but based on pictures I think Lample is the only other member who might be reaching 70 so there may be three vacancies on the House. How many male members of the ITC are there you ask? Four.

So my speculation is in 2023 Birkland, Hall, and Lample will retire and Dinesh Kumar, Albert Nshisu Nsunga, and Navid Serrano will be elected.

Hall and Birkland are both US Baha'is but will be being replaced by an African Baha'i and a Central American Baha'i. Kumar is also Australian so will be a like for like replacement of Hall. Andrej Donoval is also a male on the ITC, but he is European so I don't think he will make the grade as my impression is the Faith isn't really doing anything in Europe.

As a bonus prediction I hazard a guess that in 2023 at least two male Counselors from North America will be put on the ITC with Payman Mohajer perhaps retiring in 2028 to allow one of them to be elected to make sure there is a North American on the House to babysit USA and Canada.

DISCLAIMER: With Arbab now passed on there is a power vacuum in the Faith and the functioning of Haifa may radically change so this may not come to pass!!

Shua Ullah Behai on the lack of progress of the Baha'i Faith in America

 

It is nearly half a century since [the Baha’i] principles were introduced in the United States of America, but with all the efforts that have been made we have not progressed as we should.... The time has come that we should arise from our slumber and pull the wool off our eyes and see the defect which is causing our stagnation. Avoiding questioners, and excommunications, are signs of weakness and anti-Baha’i principles. Independent investigation of truth should replace these flaws. -Shua Ullah Behai

Proof the House of Justice is not infallible



There is only one God and he is infallible, he is perfect, he is unknowable, he is all-powerful, and he is the vassal of none.

This effectively means that no statement can be taken to be absolutely true. Not even the laws of physics. Because if God wished to change the laws of physics, then they would change.

God has power over all things, which means that everything is uncertain. We cannot be 100% certain of anything, because if a law were 100% certain to be true, this implies that God cannot break this law, which violates the omnipotence of God.

If an institution is infallible, this also violates the omnipotence of God. If you are 100% certain that every decision the UHJ makes is divinely guided by God, this means that you believe that God does not have the freedom to stop guiding them. Because how else could you be 100% certain? If you think God guides the UHJ because you are 100% certain God wants to guide the UHJ, this implies you know God, which you don't, because God is unknowable.

If I saw that gravity stopped working tomorrow, I would have to believe that God has repealed this law physics, not dogmatically cling to gravity as being a fact. Similarly, if the UHJ clearly does not work, I would have to acknowledge that God is not guiding it.

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