Why I started to question the alleged doctrine of the Lesser Covenant?

Site of multi-million dollar shrine being raised for Abdul Baha in Israel

I never began to question the doctrine of the (Lesser) Covenant until I absolutely had to. I was raised in a mainstream Baha'i family, who were very loyal to Abdul Baha, and the Covenant was drilled into my head from a young age. I learned about the Covenant-Breakers, and when I learned that most of Baha'u'llah's family broke the Covenant, I considered it to be a very lamentable coincidence, and one that made me very sad. At this point I thought the Covenant was something clear-cut, and that to break the Covenant was an act of intentional disloyalty to Baha'u'llah, rather than an act of skepticism. I thought people broke the Covenant either because they had selfish motives of wanting power and leadership, or because they hated Baha'u'llah and wanted to undermine the Baha'i Faith by creating disunity. I thought that the Baha'i Faith is already such a great religion, so no one would ever think to break away and form another sect unless they had truly evil motives, so when people form sects in the Baha'i Faith it is "different" from when people form sects in other religions. I saw the lack of success of the Covenant Breakers as being a sign of divine providence, and I saw the fact that the Baha'i Faith survived so long without any major sects as a proof of the Faith's unrivalled unifying power.

The doubts started to come when I began to think critically about religion and its purpose. Baha'u'llah says that the purpose of religion is "unity and concord amongst the people of the world" (note: the authorized translation says "peoples", putting an international spin on the quote, but the original Arabic just says "people" (ahl)). Religion is supposed to align people so that they work together. If you feel out of place in the world, then your religious community should be a place where you can fit in and be united with others.

But after moving to a new city, I found that the Baha'i Faith did not help with this. I looked at the local Baha'i newsletter and made an effort to attend Baha'i events, but I only met a few people, and they were all elderly people. A neighboring Baha'i center 2 hours away had weekly devotionals, so I started attending those and I was happy to see there were a couple people my age there, but they got discontinued for some reason. At one point I thought maybe people were just turning away from religion, because of the demonic influence of Western society. This is partly true, but not the whole picture, because I later found out that there actually were Baha'i activities going on, and inter-community Baha'i activities, with young people, but I was being left out of them. The reason I was being left out of them was because these activities were being organized by the Auxiliary Board member, and I was part of this clique.

Since I was not part of the Auxiliary Board member's clique, I thought I would try to start my own clique. I made a request to the nearest Baha'i center to hold a weekly study of Baha'u'lah's writings on Saturdays, since there were no regular events going on then. I thought that people would see this event was going on at the Baha'i Center on Saturdays and the ones who are interested in Baha'u'llah's writings would want to attend it, and gradually another clique would grow, made up of people who are interested in primary study of Baha'u'llah's writings. But to my great surprise and disappointment, this request was denied by the Baha'i Center. They said that to hold such a study at the Baha'i Center would detract from the Core Activities. This is in spite of the fact that the Baha'i Center is perpetually empty on Saturdays. At this point it became clear to me that there was no place for me to fit in to the Baha'i community. In order to meet people in the Baha'i community, I had to become a Ruhiite. I considered becoming a Ruhiite, but I figured that I probably would not fit in with the Ruhiites, because Ruhiites tend to have a certain personality that is not shared by me.

So it was my observation that the Baha'i community does a poor job of uniting people. The Baha'i community is not a place where diverse people can fit in and find own place. In order to fit in with the Baha'i community, you have to be a very specific kind of person. You have to be a Ruhiite: charismatic, extraverted, condescending, and a sycophant to religious authority. Being stupid also helps. If you are thoughtful, objective type, who is not particularly in awe of religious authority, then there is no place for for you.

I would have probably never started questioning the Baha'i religious leadership if the Baha'i Faith had given me any kind of social life as it had given my parents. But when the religion's leadership are running a shit show, you have to start questioning them, which in Baha'i terminology is called Breaking the Covenant. I only had the moral strength to start doubting this doctrine of the Covenant because my father instilled the oneness of God in me at a young age. He made it clear that Baha'u'llah was far greater than Abdul Baha, and that the one true God was far greater than Baha'u'llah. When I was a kid he would make remarks like "it is apparent from comparing Baha'u'llah's writings with Abdul Baha's writings how much greater Baha'u'llah is". Without this clear hierarchy in my mind, I may have found it pointless to even consider positions that are at odds with Abdul Baha, because to lose favor with Abdul Baha would be to lose the main religious entity I care about. But since I believed that Baha'u'llah was greater, and was more attached to him then Abdul Baha, I cared more about finding favor with Baha'u'llah, even if it is at odds with Abdul Baha.

So I studied Baha'u'llah's writings, and I found that this supposed doctrine of the Covenant, which is the doctrine that says that the Baha'i religious leadership always does the right thing and can never make mistakes, has absolutely no basis in Baha'u'llah's writings. This was somewhat of a pleasant surprise, because mainstream Baha'i sources always make it seem like this whole thing about Abdul Baha and the UHJ being infallible was something Baha'u'llah made very clear.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts

Total Pageviews


Blog Archive