"A Treatise on Leadership"

Discussion in 'Baha'i' started by arthra, Feb 8, 2017.

  1. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Abdul-Baha at one time wrote "A Treatise on Leadership" otherwise known as a "Treatise on Politics" (Risalih-'i Siyasiyyih) .

    It was translated by Juan Cole and the translation is provisional... that is it remains to be accepted as authorized as yet; but it has some interesting fragments .. one of which I hope to share here:

    "In these days and times, events contrary to all religious laws and destructive of both human society and of the divine foundation have occurred as a result of the actions of some ignorant, unwise insurgents and fomenters of turmoil. They made the perspicuous divine religion a pretext, and by their sedition and clamor they have brought shame upon the people of Iran before the nations of the world, whether they be friends or strangers. Praise be to God! They claim to be shepherds, but they bear the characteristics of wolves. They read the Qur'án, but they desire to behave like rapacious beasts. They have a human form, but they approve of bestial conduct. "When it is said to them, 'Do not corruption in the land,' they say, 'We are only ones that put things right.' Truly, they are the workers of corruption but they are not aware.[1] It has therefore become imperative that a brief discourse be delivered concerning the foundation stone of the divine religion, and to alert the friends to be wise and awake."

    [1 Qur'án 2:10]

    Some have Qur'an 2:11


    Note the above:

    "...the actions of some ignorant, unwise insurgents and fomenters of turmoil. They made the perspicuous divine religion a pretext, and by their sedition and clamor they have brought shame upon the people of Iran before the nations of the world, whether they be friends or strangers..."

    I think we could surmise the above extract could be descriptive of some of the current groups active today.
    We should ask ourselves when these words were written?...

    In his opening sentences of an explanatory essay Juan Cole provides us with the answer:

    "Abdu'l-Bahá's Risalih-'i Siyasiyyih or Treatise on Leadership (as I think it should be translated) was written in 1891-92 during the Tobacco Revolt in Iran. The Tobacco Revolt, 1890-92, was a popular insurrection against Nasiru'd-Din Shah for his having granted a monopoly on the marketing of Iranian tobacco to a British carpetbagger. It was among the first truly national protest movements, uniting merchants, money lenders, tobacco farmers and the Shi`ite religious leadership in opposition to this give-away of Iranian resources.

    "The Treatise was published in Bombay in 1892 and was the first policy statement of `Abdu'l-Bahá upon taking the reins of the leadership of the Bahá'í community. It shows his alarm at the increasing involvement of religious leaders and communities in this populist movement against the civil Iranian state, and cites the way past such religious populist movements have led to foreign intervention or increased absolutism (i.e. the `Urabi Revolt in Egypt and the 1876 Constitutional Revolution in Istanbul). `Abdu'l-Bahá argues forcefully for a separation of religion and state as a basis for Bahá'í non-involvement in such anti-state violence."

    More later...
     
  2. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    From the translation of Juan Cole of "A Treatise on Leadership" the following citation is given from Baha’u’llah’s “Kitab-i `Ahd” or Book of the Covenant.

    “O ye the loved ones and the trustees of God! Kings are the manifestations of the power, and the daysprings of the might and riches, of God. Pray ye on their behalf. He hath invested them with the rulership of the earth, and hath singled out the hearts of men as His Own domain. Conflict and contention are categorically forbidden in His Book. This is a decree of God in this Most Great Revelation. It is divinely preserved from annulment and is invested by Him with the splendour of His confirmation. Verily He is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. It is incumbent upon everyone to aid those daysprings of authority and sources of command who are adorned with the ornament of equity and justice.”

    In His "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf" Baha'u'llah revealed:

    "Beware lest ye shed the blood of any one. Unsheathe the sword of your tongue from the scabbard of utterance, for therewith ye can conquer the citadels of men's hearts. We have abolished the law to wage holy war against each other. God's mercy hath, verily, encompassed all created things, if ye do but understand."

    And yet again in another connection: "O people! Spread not disorder in the land, and shed not the blood of any one, and consume not the substance of others wrongfully, neither follow every accursed prattler."

    ~ Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 24

    Holy War or Jihad is forbidden.
     
  3. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    "The quarrelsome religious leaders who had raised the cry of "War, to war! and "Let us wage a holy war! whimpered, at the first assault, "Where is our refuge? and "To where can we flee?

    By making war but a little they forewent rich compensation and glorious rewards, rather turning their faces and fleeing.

    They had brought this greatest of catastrophes to pass.

    Praise be to God!

    Shall persons who are unable to manage or train up their own households, who are wholly uninformed both with regard to domestic and foreign affairs, interfere in the proceedings of the kingdom and its subjects, or intervene in the intricacies of political matters?"


    (Provisional Translations, Treatise on Politics)

    I'm going to give that last sentence an accolade!
     
  4. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    The following passages from the "Treatise on Politics" further suggest no interference in politics...

    "Rather, the holy faculties of these good and pure souls are in reality the life, consciousness, and identity of the obedient heart and spirit, not of water and clay. The standards of the signs of these pure realities are raised up in the spiritual, life-giving heavens, not in the dusty earth.

    There is no way for the affairs of the government and the subjects, of ruler and ruled, to enter in here. They are specially favored with the holy and divine breezes and with spiritual and everlasting effulgences.

    "They do not interfere in any other sphere, nor do they steer the steed of their resolve into the arena of governmental leadership. For the affairs of leadership and government, of kingdom and subjects, already have a respected object of authority, an appointed source, whereas a different holy center and distinct wellspring exists with regard to guidance, religion, knowledge, education, and the promulgation of good morals and of the virtues of true humanity. These latter souls have nothing to do with affairs of civil leadership, nor do they seek to interfere in them."

    (Provisional Translations, Treatise on Politics)
     

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