Friday, 13 May 2011

Ruhi Books are useless !

It seems strange to expect that materials developed for largely uneducated rurally based Colombians would transplant well into other places in the world. A closer look at the Ruhi books would support this view – for example, the recommendation that participants visit families in Book 2 would be inappropriate to most Westerners. But there are more serious problems with these books.

First, they promote one way of reading scripture that focuses on a plain, outward, and acontextualized understanding of a quotation. A quotation from a Baha’i source is cited, without any historical or other context, and the participants are asked a series of questions about it – some in the form of multiple-choice yes/no questions. Other approaches to reading texts are not introduced, which undermines Baha’i approaches to interpretation that promotes a multiplicity of methods.

Second, some of the passages that are used for reflection are not from authoritative sources - for example, in Book 1, there are passages from Star of the West and Promulgation of Universal Peace where Abdu'l-Bahá's terminology may not be accurately reflected in the English translations used (or, for that matter, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's words may not have been accurately recalled).

Third, there is commentary in the books written by those that developed it that is not necessarily consistent with Bahá'í thought. In Book 1, for example, in the sections on prayer, it states that we should not move abruptly from prayer into another activity. This makes sense for most people, but it is not true to imply that it is a Bahá'í practice.

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