Quote from Bahaullah

Discussion in 'Baha'i' started by Postmaster, Jun 16, 2007.

  1. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Baha'i

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  2. Popeyesays

    Popeyesays New Member

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    Bruce,
    \I doubt that the average murderer by arson is terribly concerned with the good of his soul in the next world, nor does he have the view of God that would let him go snapping his fingers and singing to his own death. That's martyrdom, not execution.
    Execution is a bitter thing, especially in this world today. It causes nearly as much division and anguish as abortion, The European view is that execution is not a desirable means of punishment.
    Mr. Schaefer has some interesting takes on what modern 'justice' has become--not an instrument of justice at all, but a utilitarian approach to deterring crime.
    Unfortunately, the utilitarian approach does not really deter crime. Crime and murder are not usually utilitarian acts in the first place.
    The crumpling of society around us is obvious to anyone who looks, things ARE falling apart under their own weight and we are in a conundrum as to how to deal with that fact of life.
    Mr. Schaefer's pdf article is amazing (though I wish I could fix the obvious typo--'it should be 'yoke of oppression' which is a quote from Baha`u'llah, not 'JOKE of oppression' as it is in the document.)
    I would also suggest Schaefer's article: The new morality: an outline

    Bahá'u'lláh made it very clear that the "weakening of the pillars of religion" would "lead in the end to chaos and confusion. Indeed, when there is no God, no metaphysical responsibility, no metaphysical sanction for misdeeds, when our existence is purposeless, there is little motivation to do good and to shun evil. "
    Of particular interest to me were the listings of divine virtues:
    Truthfulness (and the associated virtues of honesty, uprightness and sincerity) is "the foundation of all human virtues", without which "progress and success in all the worlds of God is impossible." Truthfulness is of crucial importance for one's spiritual health. It is the opposite of falseness, hypocrisy, dissimulation, untruthfulness and lying, which is "the worst of qualities", the "most odious of attributes", the "foundation of all evil", "a destroyer of all human perfections and the cause of innumerous vices. Hypocrisy, a constant danger particularly in religious circles, is strongly condemned.

    Trustworthiness has been elevated in the Bahá'í scripture, where it appears as "the supreme ornament of the people of Bahá", "the greatest portal leading unto the tranquillity and security of the people. Trust is a fundamental condition of life. Mistrust, which stunts men's spiritual life and their relationship to one another, can only be overcome in an atmosphere of trust.
    Justice ('adl wa ináf ) has a unique rank. It is the sum of all worldly virtues. Its precedence over all the worldly virtues is in accordance with the philosophical tradition. Justice is a complex concept and its many different ramifications cannot be covered here. It should be mentioned that the Golden Rule is also an expression of justice as are such injunctions and commandments as to pay "regard for the rights that are due to one's parents" or to "refrain from slander, abuse and whatever causeth sadness in men", "from backbiting or calumny.

    Justice ('adl wa ináf ) has a unique rank. It is the sum of all worldly virtues. Its precedence over all the worldly virtues is in accordance with the philosophical tradition. Justice is a complex concept and its many different ramifications cannot be covered here. It should be mentioned that the Golden Rule is also an expression of justice as are such injunctions and commandments as to pay "regard for the rights that are due to one's parents" or to "refrain from slander, abuse and whatever causeth sadness in men", "from backbiting or calumny.

    Moderation, one of the classical ethic's four cardinal virtues, aims at the "happy mean." It is a fundamental value for individual and social ethics. According to Bahá'u'lláh, everything "carried to excess" exercises "a pernicious influence upon men", especially freedom and material civilisation. Hence, moderation should be exercised "in all matters" an injunction which applies even to the practise of the virtues themselves.
    Wisdom and prudence, which are concerned with the right way of thinking correspond to the complex concept of ikma. This term denotes the discernment of relations and connections, the knowledge of the practical conditions and requirements of life, the real assessment of concrete situations, the clear and right way of knowing, concluding, judging and planning, and the choice of the "right means" and "right ends: "The sword of wisdom is hotter than summer heat, and sharper than blades of steel. Man should "put on the armour of wisdom" and "be guided by wisdom" in all his doings, and "under all conditions. The source of wisdom is the fear of God, which is "the essence of wisdom. Wisdom and prudence are the beginning of all moral action and thought. Both are always focused on the good. Not only must the end be good, but the means must be good as well. The end does not justify the means. Wisdom and prudence should be applied especially when propagating the message of God or implementing the laws of God, "so that nothing might happen that could cause disturbance and dissension or raise clamour among the heedless--a clear warning against fanatical rigidity and excessive legalism.

    Devotion to others: love, loving-kindness, mercy and compassion.
    Whereas justice is the sum of all virtues, love (maabba) is the foundation of all morality, the very prerequisite of the "worldly virtues." These two are interdependent: love which is devoid of justice, is mere sentimentality and emotive effusiveness, it is, as Thomas Aquinas put it, "the mother of disintegration; justice without love, however, turns into cruelty
    Justice, moderation, and wisdom and prudence are all counter-balances which a code of justice must have. And, in the interest of society, we must demand that all those virtues are kept to the forefront when a system of courts and justice is established.
    ----

    Regards,
    Scott
     
  3. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    Well kind of - the Baha'i faith doesn't accept the exact principal of karma. Rather God manifests Justice just as Mercy - and yes Mercy exceeds Justice but not to the point of making Justice mute. At some level Justice itself is a mercy too.

    If one has done wrong, paying for it can have a redemptive quality.
     
  4. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    I'd strongly suggest not convoluting the two - the Baha'i stance on punishment and the US penal system are <sigh> lamentably divergent. In the US there are almost as many people against the current system as there are for it - it has been suspended in a few cases. The problem is applying the law in a fundamentally unfair manner.
     
  5. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Baha'i

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    Actually, the typo isn't all that surprising given that in German, "J" is often pronounced "Y," so that it's a fairly simple Freudian slip to substitute a "J" by mistake!

    Regards,

    Bruce
     
  6. Sean H.

    Sean H. Member

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    Hmm. The way I look at it, it seems to me that Baha'u'llah is saying that we can't not punish people just because in rare cases innocent people get punished. To me, it doesn't matter whether the innocent person endures life imprisonment or the death penalty because in both cases they're innocent and God will compensate them.
     
  7. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Reply to Postmaster:

    I'd like also to respond to the following by Postmaster:

    In England where I live capital punishment is illegal, I have grown up to believe the American penal system is wrong.

    My reply:

    I think you are making this discussion now about capital punishment... Baha'is are not necessarily for the American system of capital punishment.

    For one thing, studies have shown that most who are executed are among minorities heavily black or hispanic people and are poorer by and large so many did not have means to hire proper defense... such a system would not be accepted in a future Baha'i society. So I think you are making too many assumptions about Baha'i laws in the future!

    For another you seem to be suggesting that the British system of justice is superior... Well I wouldn't be so sure about that if I were you... Any social system will have some flaws and problems in implementing, before you suggest a future Baha'i system of justice is flawed ...consider this!

    It goes to show for me that a society can take a different approach to criminals and that prescribing death or burning even as an option is wrong.

    If you read the excerpts from the Baha'i Writings I posted earlier you would understand that Baha'i view toward criminality is progressive...that we have to build a society and system that is preventative and just so that crime can be reduced. Baha'i law does not say only capital punishment or burning is the only option. Please understand this!

    The time Bahaullah wrote it, it might have been valid but I will use the progressive truth card against Bahaullah on this issue.

    No. I think you are not listening or understanding here. There are mitigating provisions in Baha'i law revealed by Baha'u'llah. Life imprisonment is also provided for as an alternative to capital punishment. The Universal House of Justice will provide the details for Baha'i law to be implimented in Baha'i societies. It is unfair for you to set yourself up as a judge of a system that has not yet even been established as yet!

    Also to me it shows people do not need guidance on this issue. As we know the Koran is full with social laws and punishments, whereas the bible isn't.

    Actually you should read the Book of Deuteronomy before you suggest that the Bible does not have social laws and punishments!
     
  8. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    First let me site a comparable example - where Baha'u'llah also says He will be an agent to compensate someone killed unjustly - "I Myself shall atone for the loss of her son - a son who now dwelleth within the tabernacle of My majesty and glory, and whose face beameth with a light that envelopeth with its radiance the Maids of Heaven in their celestial chambers, and beyond them the inmates of My Paradise, and the denizens of the Cities of Holiness. Were any eye to gaze on his face, he would exclaim: "Lo, this is no other than a noble angel!""

    But "it doesn't matter" is a bit over simplified - even callous. If a system or person were to have a weakness, or even a habit, which tended to put innocent people to death surely it would be tyrannical and numerous Baha'i Writings would then apply - both from the perspective of this world and the next. For example, from those in this world....

    Note "The foundation of the Kingdom of God is laid upon justice, fairness, mercy, sympathy and kindness to every soul. Then strive ye with heart and soul to practice love and kindness to the world of humanity at large, except to those souls who are selfish and insincere. It is not advisable to show kindness to a person who is a tyrant, a traitor or a thief because kindness encourages him to become worse and does not awaken him. The more kindness you show to a liar the more he is apt to lie, for he thinks that you know not, while you do know, but extreme kindness keeps you from revealing your knowledge."

    So people in this world would be bound to adjust the behavior of this tyrannical system. We have to do our best and if we do it wrong we ourselves are bound to fix it. But it goes further, from the next world justice is waiting for the tyrant too -

    "O OPPRESSORS ON EARTH! Withdraw your hands from tyranny, for I have pledged Myself not to forgive any man’s injustice. This is My covenant which I have irrevocably decreed in the preserved tablet and sealed with My seal."

    So passing from this world we ourselves are held accountable for our tyrannies.
     
  9. Popeyesays

    Popeyesays New Member

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    In the TaNakh there are 613 commandments. Most of those are in Deuteronomy.

    Now some of those laws are binding ONLY on the priesthood which no longer exists. Some of them are binding only upon men, some of them are binding only upon women.

    So Judaism is full of social law, but by and large no one is enforcing those laws today--not in a societal sense.

    There are a few laws in the New Testament, but there is no ecclesiastical authority today which can make those laws binding upon anyone without the cooperation of the government.

    In today's world governments enforce law, not religion.

    Baha`u'llah proposes the correct approach to law and enforcement in His writings. When the day comes that those laws can be enforced by society, it will be up to the supreme international court established--The Universal House of Justice--to put thos commandments into enforcable law.

    There's not much point in postulating on what that new society will be like, we frankly donot know what it will be like, we are discovering it from moment to moment.

    AWe have reason to trust that it will be done justly, kindly, compassionately, fairly and sympathetically to every person on the planet. Will there be kinks in the process of establishing such a system of law? Undoubtedly. God trusts us to put it to rights, He does not demand we do it all at once.

    Regards,
    Scott
     
  10. Popeyesays

    Popeyesays New Member

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    In the TaNakh there are 613 commandments. Most of those are in Deuteronomy.

    Now some of those laws are binding ONLY on the priesthood which no longer exists. Some of them are binding only upon men, some of them are binding only upon women.

    So Judaism is full of social law, but by and large no one is enforcing those laws today--not in a societal sense.

    There are a few laws in the New Testament, but there is no ecclesiastical authority today which can make those laws binding upon anyone without the cooperation of the government.

    In today's world governments enforce law, not religion.

    Baha`u'llah proposes the correct approach to law and enforcement in His writings. When the day comes that those laws can be enforced by society, it will be up to the supreme international court established--The Universal House of Justice--to put thos commandments into enforcable law.

    There's not much point in postulating on what that new society will be like, we frankly donot know what it will be like, we are discovering it from moment to moment.

    AWe have reason to trust that it will be done justly, kindly, compassionately, fairly and sympathetically to every person on the planet. Will there be kinks in the process of establishing such a system of law? Undoubtedly. God trusts us to put it to rights, He does not demand we do it all at once.

    Regards,
    Scott
     
  11. Popeyesays

    Popeyesays New Member

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    In the TaNakh there are 613 commandments. Most of those are in Deuteronomy.

    Now some of those laws are binding ONLY on the priesthood which no longer exists. Some of them are binding only upon men, some of them are binding only upon women.

    So Judaism is full of social law, but by and large no one is enforcing those laws today--not in a societal sense.

    There are a few laws in the New Testament, but there is no ecclesiastical authority today which can make those laws binding upon anyone without the cooperation of the government.

    In today's world governments enforce law, not religion.

    Baha`u'llah proposes the correct approach to law and enforcement in His writings. When the day comes that those laws can be enforced by society, it will be up to the supreme international court established--The Universal House of Justice--to put thos commandments into enforcable law.

    There's not much point in postulating on what that new society will be like, we frankly donot know what it will be like, we are discovering it from moment to moment.

    AWe have reason to trust that it will be done justly, kindly, compassionately, fairly and sympathetically to every person on the planet. Will there be kinks in the process of establishing such a system of law? Undoubtedly. God trusts us to put it to rights, He does not demand we do it all at once.

    Regards,
    Scott
     
  12. Sean H.

    Sean H. Member

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    I think you make a very interesting point smkolins. Thank you very much. I have read what you said and I agree that if a system tended to put innocent people to death or which favored certain people to death over others that that would not be good.

    I suppose that I think of this quote from Baha'u'llah

    "Tell him, no one in this world can claim any relationship to Me except those who, in all their deeds and in their conduct, follow My example, in such wise that all the peoples of the earth would be powerless to prevent them from doing and saying that which is meet and seemly... This brother of Mine, this Mirza Musa, who is from the same mother and father as Myself, and who from his earliest childhood has kept Me company, should he perpetrate an act contrary to the interests of either the state or religion, and his guilt be established in your sight, I would be pleased and appreciate your action were you to bind his hands and cast him into the river to drown, and refuse to consider the intercession of any one on his behalf." (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 133)

    I like this quote, and it's found on the Wikipedia page for Mirza Musa as well. Mirza Musa

    I suppose some people might think that it's impossible to have a just system in which the Death Penalty exists. From Baha'u'llah's words, it seems possible in my opinion that it is. Perhaps I am misinterpreting or there are other factors to consider, I am not sure.

    I welcome all thoughts.
     
  13. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Baha'i

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    Hi, Sean!

    Here's yet another aspect to consider:

    As to capital punishment, it should be noted that there are more nuances to it than most people realize!I think this passage from the Baha'i scriptures is noteworthy:152. “As to the question regarding the soul of a murderer, and what his punishment would be, the answer given was that the murderer must expiate his crime: that is, if they put the murderer to death, his death is his atonement for his crime, and following the death, God in His justice will impose no second penalty upon him, for divine justice would not allow this.”(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, page 179)Please note that according to the above:
    1. One needs to consider very carefully whether one wants to punish the offender personally or prefers that God punish him because (as the passage makes clear) you can't have it both ways!
    2. And it may in fact be to the criminal's advantage to request capital punishment in order to have a "clean slate" (and presumably a far more positive existence) in the Next Life! The more so given that the Baha'i Writings elsewhere say "Terrible indeed is God in punishing!"
    Food for thought, I suggest. . . .Peace,Bruce
     
  14. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    … Praise be to God that thou hast attained!… Thou hast come to see a prisoner and an exile…. We desire but the good of the world and happiness of the nations; yet they deem us a stirrer up of strife and sedition worthy of bondage and banishment…. That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled—what harm is there in this?… Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the “Most Great Peace” shall come…. Do not you in Europe need this also? Is not this that which Christ foretold?… Yet do we see your kings and rulers lavishing their treasures more freely on means for the destruction of the human race than on that which would conduce to the happiness of mankind…. These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family…. Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind….
    (Words spoken to E. G. Browne, from his pen portrait of Bahá’u’lláh, J. E. Esslemont, “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era”, 5th rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1987), pp. 39–40) [17] ​
     

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