Tuesday, 20 December 2011

UN Representative of Canada Tables Resolution against Iran and in favour of Baha’is.

(It is not favouring Baha’is, it is using Baha’is)

The United Nation took up the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran (document A/C.3/66/L.54), which was tabled by the representative of Canada.  He said that since the draft’s introduction, the human rights situation in Iran had further deteriorated.  The text’s co sponsors did not take the action of bringing a country specific text lightly.  But, given the circumstances in Iran, it was necessary to do so. 
The Committee then approved by a vote of 86 in favour to 32 against, with 59 abstentions its third country specific draft resolution. The representative of Iran called the draft text a shameful fabrication, stressing that the United Nations should be the safe refuge of all Member States, not a “playhouse or theatre” for those who claimed superiority over other States.

Iran’s response

Iran’s delegate said it was the ninth consecutive year that the United States, member States of the European Union and Canada had submitted a draft resolution on his country with the alleged purpose of addressing the human rights situation in Iran.  That move was procedurally unwarranted, substantially unfounded and intentionally malicious.  The Human Rights Council had been created in the place of the Human Rights Commission to prevent Member States from being singled out for selective human rights criticism.  Such resolutions would only reduce human rights concerns to manipulative devices of political rivalry.

He noted that Iran had historically opposed and rejected any such resolutions.  This year it had an additional point of argument in doing so — namely the creation by the Human Rights Council of a Special Rapporteur to evaluate the human rights situation in the country.  In that context, he stressed that the Rapporteur should be given the time and opportunity to prepare his reports without external pressure or induced prejudices.

He further noted that Iran had long supported human rights scrutiny of all Member States based on the principle of universality.  As the head of Iran’s delegation to the Universal Public Review in February 2010, he had cooperated and actively participated in the deliberations on the country’s report.  On 17 and 18 October 2011, Iran had also defended its third periodic report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  A judicial colloquium had been conducted with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in December 2010 in Tehran.  Furthermore, Iran had had the highest number of visits by the special mandate holders in the regions, he said.  The preparatory delegation of OHCHR would visit Iran on 17 and 18 December 2011.  Together, these and other examples, fell within the category of “meaningful and genuine cooperation” with the United Nations human rights mechanisms, he said.

He said that while Iran strongly believed the universal periodic review mechanism was the best possible way to promote the human rights situations in any country, it also believed the mechanism had been misused.  Further, the reports of the Secretary General and the Special Rapporteur were “unprofessional, unbalanced, [and] impartial”.

Stressing that the substance of the text was absolutely unfounded and constituted a shameful fabrication of baseless and totally preposterous allegations, he said his rigorous review showed it contained more than 157 allegations.  He wondered why they did not include more than 1,000 allegations, since it seemed no degree of professionalism was required and vulgar language was permitted.

He said those countries that had historically supported the dictatorships across the Arab world were the same co sponsors of the draft text today.  Moreover, they had also repeatedly ignored and even supported the gross violation of the most basic human rights of the Palestinian people by the Israeli regime.  That brought to light the true nature and hidden agenda of such countries’ approach to human rights issues, which ultimately amounted to a mockery of human rights.

As a result of its revolution, Iran had been transformed into the most advanced State in the region, he said.  Far beyond the Western expectations, it had emerged as a unique democracy in the Middle East where leaders acquired all seats of power and were removed by the vote of the people.  In that context, he called for a comparative study of human rights in the region in place of tabling malicious human rights resolutions.  Such study would, he said, uncover that the main problem with his country was not its human rights situation, but its rejection of secular liberal ideology.

Concluding, he underlined that the United Nations and all of its institutions should be the safe refuge of all Member States, not a “playhouse or theatre” for those who claimed superiority over other States.  Iran’s experience in building a democratic polity was a contribution to social and political developments around the world, especially for the uprisings in neighbouring Muslim States.  He requested a recorded vote on the draft resolution, and, in order to preserve the integrity and credibility of the human rights mechanisms, he called for other States to vote against it.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Response

Making a general statement before the vote, the representative of Kazakhstan, on behalf of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in New York, said it opposed the practice of country specific resolutions on human rights situations, which were selectively targeting developing and Islamic countries.  That practice transformed the work of human rights bodies into a political exercise, rather than advancing the cause of human rights, she said.  The draft resolution on Iran, as last year, contradicted the spirit of cooperation and the situation of human rights in Iran.  Iran had been fully cooperating with the universal periodic review mechanism of the Human Rights Council by submitting a detailed and substantiated national report and sending a high level delegation to the Council on a regular basis.  Despite Iran’s cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms and positive developments in the country, the draft resolution against it was submitted to the Third Committee in a targeted manner.  She urged all States to oppose the draft resolution submitted against Iran.

Syria’s Response

Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Syria said his delegation opposed interfering with Member States under the guise of defending human rights — a noble cause that needed to be dealt with in the consensual forum in Geneva.  The United Nations Charter explicitly stipulated the principle of sovereign equality between Member States and called upon them to uphold human values and not interfere in the internal affairs of countries.  Unfortunately, some Member States in the Organization were no longer pleased with the provisions of the Charter, and were seeking to put forward new standards to apply political pressure on one country, or another.

Responsible, objective dialogue and understanding based on mutual respect for sovereignty, non selectivity and transparency was the right path to build bridges between countries and to safeguard everyone’s enjoyment of human rights and freedoms, while giving due to national cultural and religious specificities.  Syria supported the position of the representative of Iran:  human rights matters should be addressed in the appropriate forum — the Human Rights Council, not the Third Committee.  Country specific resolutions put forward for political reasons known to all threatened the field of international relations and undermined consensus on human rights matters.  More importantly, the politicization weakened international consensus reached on review in the Human Rights Council.  Human rights issues were sensitive and needed dialogue, not name calling, and for that reason Syria encouraged opposition of initiatives such as the resolution.  It would be voting against the draft resolution, he said.

India’s Response

The representative of India said his delegation was traditionally not in favour of country specific resolutions, which had historically been found counterproductive.  It would ask the co sponsors of the resolution not to pursue it, particularly in light of recent reforms in the country.  India would be voting against the resolution, he said.

With reference to the above the Baha’is and the Baha’i Organization should take a note that :
Using different countries backing them on petty issues, which can be settled within the framework of government itself, is not doing any good to them. The world is coming to know that there is definitely a group of powerful Nations backing and using the Baha’is for their own selfish purpose. Mr. Jaffer from Canada and the Journalist Ms. Asma Jehangir from Pakistan have been used by these powerful Baha’i lobbies to campaign for the discrimination of Baha’is. Such identities have become well-known now in the political stage. Their presence, letters and speeches have become too predictable.

The internet has provided the scholars and foreign affairs experts of each country with tons and tons of materials to do research on the subject of Baha’i-Zionism relationship. If these backing and support of the pro-Zionist countries continue,  then surely the balance will not be in  favour of Baha’is. A common simile, would the childhood story of “the lion has come…. the lion has come…”. Surely the lion is actually absent in most circumstances and truly present (read as Zionist-Imperialist-Colonialist countries) when and where people do not know.

The Baha’i Faith is presently banned not only in Iran but in other countries like  Iraq, Egypt, Korea, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Germany. The Bahá'í Faith was banned in the 1970s in several countries: Burundi, 1974; Mali 1976; Uganda 1977; Congo, 1978; Niger, 1978. Political experts world-wide are gradually becoming aware of this.

With this trend, the next round of balloting can be expected to voted 50 in favour and 127 against. There could be more countries having restrictions on Baha’i activities. Indeed the day is not far when even propagation in the US will be banned just as in Israel. Watch out!!
By Ravian Bilani
As appeared on Iranian.com

Monday, 15 August 2011



The purpose of the conference in Toronto which was held under chairmanship of Mr. Tavakoli and under the Guidance of Universal House of Justice failed to achieve any of its aim because the conference failed to reflect on very important issues prevailing in the Baha’i organization. For example, The Baha’i NSA of the US recently lost a case in which it attempted to sue rival, schismatic Baha’i groups for trademark infringement of the name Baha’i. The daily increase in the numerous harassment that Baha’is have been subjected to. The existence of a Baha'i Internet Agency one of whose roles is to spy and isolate online critics. Trying to find out their IP addresses then their home addresses and then bullying them to submission. Forcing Google to disband their blogs/sites.

After all, thinking is our freedom to investigate the truth and follow it. If one is truly liberal then his approaches will not suffocate the human mind to certain ideals only. The conference failed to encourage the audience to seek out the truth in their investigation. It failed in encouraging audience to apply truth to their investigation. Mr. Tavakoli and his Haifan Baha’i friends should note that staying in glass houses one should not through stones at others. In future never use Academic Institute like Toronto University as your implementing agenda forum.

Can Mr. Tavakoli and his Haifan organization answer?
  • The Haifan Baha’is always preaches tolerance and peace then why do they not extend the same tolerance and peace to their own while demanding it from other religious leaders? is this not hypocrisy?
  • Why excommunicate Academician and University professor like Prof Firouz Anarki the former member of NSA of Thailand just because he believed that to become a good teacher for Children classes one need not do Ruhi book 3.
  • Why excommunicate Mr. Jamshed Fozdar who so sincerely worked for Haifan Baha’is as a counselor for a number of years. His only fault was his assertions that the content of the books of the Ruhi Institute are unjustified, and that the only valid way to teach the Cause to the peoples of the world is through the use of the scriptures of their respective religions
  • Why send Counselors to threaten professors of history and Middle East studies of 'making statements contrary to the covenant' in the Spring of 1996 and bully them out of the religion?
  • Why the crackdown on the talis...@indiana.edu list and its participants? Why bully individuals to retract statements of fact, but when they do under duress, they are Sanctioned?
  • Why bully the editors of dialogue magazine to close it down and accuse them of negative campaigning and lying for an article entitled *A Modest Proposal* which had gone through the process of pre-publication review by the NSA itself and then accuse these editors of being covenant breakers for following the NSA's own rules and guidelines on the floor of National Convention in 1988?
  • Why threaten people believing in freedom of conscience and freedom to express one's opinion?
  • Why expel Michael McKenney for merely believing that women should serve on the UHJ?
  • Why expel Alison Marshall for believing that the UHJ is not infallible?
  • Why sanction those Iranian Baha'is for leaving Iran via Mehrabad airport because they were required to fill out a form stating their religion?
  • Why spy on individuals and violate their fundamental right to privacy a year after they had formally left the religion?
  • Why write libelous and slanderous letters about people and then denounce them as enemies in their national publications?
  • Why attempt to have people shunned and split up their families because they believe differently from the official line? And so on and so forth, ad nauseum!
Given the current UHJ's own track record with its own dissidents, it is the last one who can preach about peace and tolerance towards others! They ought to start with themselves first before telling others what to do?

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Conference to look at Baha’i faith and Iran

The University of Toronto will be hosting a significant, historic international symposium on the persecution of Baha’is in Iran, July 1-3: “Intellectual Othering and the Baha’i Question in Iran” (http://iranianstudies.ca/bahai/).


The central purpose of the conference  is to enrich the mind by stimulating and sustaining a spirit of free inquiry directed to understanding the various aspects of the Baha’i Question in Iran over the past century and a half, the scholars participating in this international conference will critically reflect on a wide range of issues related to the similarities and differences of Shi'i Islam and Baha’i Faith, the role of Baha’is in Iranian cultural and intellectual life, and the fact of their continued repression and intellectual.

We FREE BAHA’IS of Singapore believing in Bahaullah and Abdul Baha earnestly request the university of Toronto holding the conference, the Speakers and the distinguished audience to reflect upon some of the very important and critical aspect of Baha’i Faith itself so that they can enhance their understanding of the Baha’i Faith with an expanded knowledge . If you so seek to be liberal and want to understand the Baha’i Faith then we do not deprive ourselves of thinking about some very important aspect of the Baha’i faith currently prevalent in the Haifan Baha’is.

After all, thinking is our freedom to investigate the truth and follow it. If one is truly liberal then his approaches will not suffocate the human mind to certain ideals only. The conference must encourage the audience to seek out the truth in their investigation. After all, Liberal education demands to have students learn, and learning means to seek out truth. If you desire knowledge then you encourage students to apply truth in their investigation.

The few important aspect which the conference should reflect upon:



“The Baha’i Cause, as founded by Baha’u’llah nearly a century ago and as interpreted by his son Abdul Baha, was and still is a UNIVERSAL RELIGION. Its principles were intended to safeguard the conscience of man from interference by any hierarchical organization; to spiritualize society and to socialize religion; to unify the fundamental ideals of the World Faiths; to bestow upon every child of God the precious gift of liberty and to harmonize the conflicting interests of nations, races and peoples of the earth with the power of spirit. However, the present day Baha’i Administration under the title of the Universal House of Justice has, through its dogmas and creeds frustrated the aims of the Founders of the Baha’i Faith.”

“After the demise of the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith in 1957, certain reactionary and dogmatic forces began to make their appearance in the Baha’i Faith in the form of Universal House of Justice. Almost unnoticeable at first, they, little by little, gained ground until at present, this movement, which was the most universal and liberal of all movements, past and present, has been reduced to a sect, while its spirit is all but extinguished. The principles of Baha'u'llah are forgotten and instead we see nothing but a mass of rules and regulations that duplicate, to say the least, the ecclesiastical paraphernalia of previous organized religions”

It is clear from the writings of Baha’u’llah and Abdul Baha that the Cause that they envisaged and for which they suffered is quite different and totally at variance with the one that is being taught today.

“The Baha’i organization (UHJ, ITC, NSAs) is not a religion, nor a spiritual renaissance, nor the spirit of the age, but is a full-fledged corporation which, while it engages itself in marketing the principles of Baha’u’llah for the establishment of Universal Peace, through its various branches in the United States, Canada and in other parts of the world, has protected these goods by taking out a trade-mark on the very name. Threatening their fellow believers with Court cases.


The people in the Baha’i Faith seem so loving to a casual observer. But underneath there is this cult-like atmosphere in which people are not free to be themselves. They are constantly answering to their Administration for everything.

There is so much irrational fear in the community that they could not bring themselves to consider any of the arguments or even to read their own writings on the subject. All that they knew was that the so-called "Counselors" had decided that a certain Baha’i is a covenant-breaker and therefore that he was spiritually diseased and must be shunned. Any Baha’i associating with covenant Breakers will be at risk being shunned as well. "Bahá'ís" of the Baha’i Administration were not truly Bahá'ís at all but were cult members driven by fear and manipulative coercion rather than true faith. The Baha’i Administration is a complete fraud.

Unfortunately, the Wilmette NSA (UHJ) remains a threat to the Freedom of Expression in Baha’i Faith unless it gives up its mania for squelching the religious freedoms of those who disagree with it. It is our hope and wish that the Wilmette NSA will finally realize that you cannot enforce unity with a court order. The UHJ simply must tolerate the existence of other groups of Bahá'í at least in the United States or it runs the risk of forever ruining the name of the Faith making synonymous the word "Bahá'í" and "enemy of freedom of speech and religion." I certainly would be happy to tolerate and co-exist with all of the other Bahá'í groups in existence regardless of whether I agree with their beliefs. How could it possibly be that tolerance for others' religious views cannot be attained by a group of people who call themselves Bahá'í?


There were number of educated sincere and devoted Baha’is individuals like  Sen McGlinn, Frederick Glaysher, Professor Juan Cole , Alison Marshall, Michael McKenny, Nosrat’u’llah Bahremand all were shown the door and are erased from Baha’i membership rolls as though they never existed, They have all been declared Covenant Breaker a term used to signify Enemy of Faith . Their Wife and Chidren have been asked to shun their husbands and Fathers .It is a clear indication that the Baha’i Faith is in deep denial of basic human values.

The Baha’i Faith, as an organization, is so far from reality that the "self appointed" members of the Universal House of Justice cannot even see how their own words apply perfectly to themselves.

We present some of the important experiences of learnt Baha’is with the Baha’i Adminstration.

1 Frederick Glaysher

……But the Faith harbors lots of big egos (everyone has one). You won't notice them until there is a major disagreement. Having a sin-covered eye will not prevent the existence of backbiting and prejudice by those in the community doing it. It just means one is not looking hard enough to notice. It will always be there, though, like ego. Again: >"the Baha’i Faith doesn't harbor people with big egos. They end up either losing their egos or losing their faith."
……. But I've witnessed huge egos in the Baha’i Faith that received the VIP treatment because of their relationship to famous Baha’is who knew Baha'u'llah. Part of the reason I'm no longer a Baha’i is because of this hypocrisy. These particular people were, in my direct observation of them, a great cause of disunity. For instance, one "big ego" (who was good at feigning humility) that I knew personally--he was Iranian--divided my whole community for ten years. The Iranians all sided with him because of his big-shot family name. He was far more destructive (backbiting, slander and litigation) than any "covenant-breaker."
WEB: Newsgroups: alt.religion.bahaii, talk.religion.misc

2 Professor Juan Cole
February 23, 1999:
"There is nothing to be puzzled by. Right wing Baha’is only like to hear the sound of their own voices (which are the only voices they will admit to being "Baha’i" at all). Obviously, the world is so constructed that they cannot in fact only hear their own voices. They are forced to hear other voices that differ from theirs. This most disturbs them when the voices come from enrolled Baha’is or when the voices speak of the Baha’i faith. The way they sometimes deal with the enrolled Baha’is is to summon them to a heresy inquiry and threaten them with being shunned if they do not fall silent. With non-Baha’is or with ex-Baha’is, they deal with their speech about the faith by backbiting, slandering and libeling the speaker. You will note that since I've been on this list I have been accused of long-term heresy, of "claiming authority," of out and out lying (though that was retracted, twice), of misrepresentation, of 'playing fast and loose with the facts,' and even of being 'delusional.' I have been accused of all these falsehoods by *Baha’is*, by prominent Baha’is. I have been backbitten by them. This shows that all the talk about the danger a sharp tongue can do, all the talk about the need for harmony, for returning poison with honey, for a sin-covering eye, is just *talk* among right wing Baha’is. No one fights dirtier than they when they discover a voice they cannot silence and cannot refute....
3 Nosrat’u’llah Bahremand
Nosrat’u’llah Bahremand, a Persian Baha’i from Perth, Australia, openly accepted the claims  of Mason Remey and Joel Marangella. Joel Marangella appointed him a “Hand of the Cause” and “Vice-President” of the “Third International Bahá’í Council” which Marangella had established in 2006. In May 2007 Marangella appointed him as his successor.Mr. Nosrat’u’llah Bahremand is a writer on the Faith, his articles are well read. Recently he wrote an answer to Ali Nakhjawani article,”THE ILLEGITIMACY AND FRAUD OF THE BOGUS UHJ THROUGH ALI NAKHJAVANI’S BLATANT PERVERSION OF THE TRUTH.” This article has send tremor waves across the Haifian Organization. Nosrat’u’llah Bahremand was declared a Covenant-breaker in 2003.


4 Enayatullah Yazdani
A Persian by origin, Enayatullah (Zabih) Yazdani, migrated to Sydney, Australia, accepted the Guardianship of  Mason Remey many years ago. In 2004 he openly propagated his long-held view that Remey was the legitimate successor to Shoghi Effendi and, moreover, accepted Donald Harvey as the “Third Guardian” and Jacques Soghomonian as the “Fourth Guardian”. Soghomonian recently appointed Yazdani to succeed him as “Fifth Guardian” upon his death. Enayatullah (Zabih) Yazdani was declared a Covenant-breaker in June 2005.
5  Sen McGlinn

He became a Baha’i in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1974 and was part of the small Baha’i community of Kaikoura, a coastal town on New Zealand’s South Island. Later he spent some time as a Baha’i ‘pioneer’ on the Chatham Islands, and was part of the Baha’i communities in various other towns in New Zealand, and later in the Netherlands.

He had served on Local Spiritual Assemblies, as an ‘assistant,’ and on local and regional Baha’i committees. He is currently a moderator for the H-Baha’i discussion list, and can usually be found for a chin-wag on the Talisman9 discussion list (talisman9-subscribe@yahoogroups.com).

In late 2005 He was removed from the rolls of the Baha’i community, following a decision of the Universal House of Justice. He has put up some of the documents on a page here, in response to speculations about the reasons for the decision. He applied to be re-enrolled periodically, and in the meantime continued as a believing and practicing un enrolled Baha’i. There are some informal reflections on being un enrolled in an email in his archive called ‘who belongs.’

He is interested especially in Baha’i theology (theology is what Baha’is usually call ‘deepening,’ but conducted in a systematic and self-critical way) and, within that, in political theology (which Baha’is call ‘the social teachings’). He wrote his MA dissertation on Church and State in Islam and the Baha’i Faith, and is now working on a study of the institutions of the Baha’i community, which is intended to become a PhD thesis.


6  Michael McKenny
He was expelled from Baha’i Faith as he was member of revolutionary talisman list in 1997. He questioned some intricacies in the Baha’i faith like no women in UHJ, no spirituality or community values in Baha’i society. He was expelled!

bn872@freenet.carleton.ca (McKenny Michael)

7  Alison Marshall
Alison Marshall became a Baha’i in 1980, when she was introduced to it by a Maori couple. She settled in her South Island hometown, Dunedin, serving on its Local Spiritual Assembly for several years. In 1994, she began subscribing to the email forum, Talisman, which was started by University of Indiana Professor John Walbridge for the academic discussion of the Baha’i Faith. The Baha’i leadership, accustomed to carefully controlling information concerning their religion, soon became alarmed at the freewheeling discourse on Talisman and cracked down in 1996, threatening prominent posters with being shunned as "covenant-breakers". (This is the Baha’i term of schismatics. The creation of alternative sects is anathema to a religion that sees world unity as its mission.)
Alison, who had until then been quietly learning from the active Talisman posters began speaking out against what she felt was the unjust treatment of her fellow-believers. In March 2000, Alison was suddenly expelled from membership in the Baha’i community on the instructions of the Universal House of Justice, the religion's governing body with its seat in Haifa, Israel. The only explanation given her was that her "behavior and attitude" disqualified her for Baha’i membership. However, Marshall was able to obtain an explanatory email message from Haifa to the New Zealand National Spiritual Assembly from acquaintances who were given copies when they inquired about her case.

8  Mr. Mohammad (Yusuf) Muquit

Mr. Mohammad (Yusuf) Muquit was declared a  Covenant Breaker in 2006.Mr. Muquit has affirmed his belief in Charles Mason Remey’s claims to the Guardianship. He visited the United States to study with Neal Chase, a follower of Leland Jensen and a claimant to the Guardianship. Mr. Muquit has also accepted Mr. Neal Chase’s claims.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Ruhi Institute


“The content of the books of the Ruhi Institute are unjustified, the only valid way to teach the Baha’I Faith to the peoples of the world is through the use of the scriptures of their respective religions.

Bahá’u’lláh’s message be delivered to the masses of humanity on the basis of the Holy Scriptures of the past.”

“I do hope somehow that all friends become more and more deepened by Ruhi or otherwise. Personally I do not count much on Ruhi.”

“That's true; the parents everywhere would like to send their children to a good school with professional teachers. But the point is that doing 1 or 2 Ruhi courses does not make one professional in teaching children classes. I have done book 3 (just out of obedience to our institutions) but believe me I cannot handle a children class. I am not so good with children education even though I am actually in academic field and teaching at university level. But my wife who has not done book 3 yet is so good with children and children classes that I see it's in her nature to be an educator of children.

Meaning that children’s class teacher is a job, is a position for which people can be assigned, can be asked, or can volunteer. To look for the best person means one is looking for skills and characteristics, and in the world today a lot of people think that qualifications, having done a certain course indicate that that person has the skills needed for the job.”

“At this time when we have lack of human resources, it would be much better for all of us to make use of our resources to best of our abilities. I have seen some places where they had such requirement, the number of children classes in fact reduced as there were not enough children class teachers who have finished book 3. So the LSA of that place was urging friends there to come and study book 3 to be able to offer more children classes.”

“To me it shows stupidity of a decision by an LSA to require all children class teachers to pass Book 3 or now a days Book 5.

It would be similar to tell a Baha'i Teacher not to teach the Faith unless he/she has finished book 2 and book 6.”

Ruhi’i’zation of Baha’i community

The whole of the Baha’i community is infected by Ruhi book courses. It looks like The Ruhi'i'zation of Baha’i community is the sole aim of Universal House of Justice.

“It seems strange to expect that materials developed for largely uneducated rurally based Colombians would transplant well into other places in the world. Unfortunately, since the same group (Arbab, Correa, Lample, etc.) that created and promoted Ruhi are now in the highest positions within the Baha’i Administration, it will be long time until we put it all behind us. For this small group of persons, there is just too much personal interest at stake. I can empathize. It’s never easy to admit that one is wrong. That’s just human. But usually when we fall prey to this defect of human nature, it is only ourselves that we hurt. But in the case of Ruhi, the whole Baha’i community is suffering.

What is notable is that there has been no critical discussion of Ruhi books or study circles in any Baha’i periodicals. Differences of opinion are not tolerated well by many Baha’is, who mistake the concept of unity with quashing all dissent. But there are deeper problems caused by the way that uncomfortable discussions on internet lists were handled and individual Baha’is reprimanded that has presumably scared most thinking Baha’is from speaking out critically about this or any community-related issue.

Only counting Baha’is and non-Baha’is participating in courses is not the way of Evaluation. The Baha’i Administration gives the message that Ruhi content should not be evaluated, it should only be implemented.

Any criticism of the weaknesses of Ruhi is interpreted as a direct criticism or attack on the House of Justice and the ITC.

It is conveyed to the Baha’is clearly in no uncertain terms that disliking study circles means having problems with covenant and
branded as covenantally weak.

The poisonous effects of this on the Baha’i world community are already apparent and will get even more pronounced with time.Those Bahais who are expelled from the community for criticism of Ruhi have become real powerhouses since their expulsion. Think how amazingly vibrant the Baha’i faith could become if the House would remove just 1% of the Baha’is from membership, let alone 10% or 100%.

The Ruhi-system is treated tantamount to a revelation from God. It is perfect and suitable, nothing to change about it: it just needs to be implemented. If it doesn’t work, it’s not the material that’s wrong. We were just too dumb to use it. Any question about Ruhi will be counter by sanction of Administrative Right followed by threat to be declared a Covenant breaker.

So the destiny of every Baha’i is either Ruhi book graduates or a Covenant breaker

Ruhi Books : A failed Idea

Despite repeated assurances by UHJ that “entry by troops” was just around the corner, the numbers of Baha’is worldwide declined drastically.The glaring example is of India where the claim of 2.2 millions Bahais is in fact only 11,324. In the United States and other parts of the world, the number of Baha’is have also gone down drastically.

Evidence for this partly comes from the numbers of Local Spiritual Assemblies, which is arguably the best way to evaluate the presence of a functioning community. As it turns out, LSA numbers have actually dropped in Africa, Asia, South America since the 1980s. Infact in India where the Bahais always claim to be the largest Baha’i community, there the condition is miserable and pathetic. The number of LSAs from 10,000 in 1984 came down to only 500 in 2009, which is just 0nly 5% of LSAs.

A few reasons for this sudden collapse are :
  • The claims of Baha’i Administration was highly exaggerated if not fraudulent.
  • Many of these new Baha’is did not remain active, and drifted back to their traditional religious and cultural belief systems.
  • Excessive control of the Persian Bahais over the Baha’i Administration including UHJ which antagonized the non Persian Bahais.This control also gave the idea of Hidden Persian Imperialism agenda behind Ruhi Book courses and Baha’i Faith.
In response to this situation of low growth and poor community development, the Universal House of Justice requested all national communities to develop their human resources through systems of systematic training and group study. The intention was to enthuse Baha’is to teach more and develop their community life, which would in turn attract new converts to the religion. And importantly, it provided new converts with a system of learning, so they would not drift away from the religion after their initial enthusiasm.

So since 1996, the House of Justice has requested all national communities set up “training institutes.” These institutes use a decentralized system of locally based group learning, “study circles”, which are led by a trained tutor. Study circles are supposed to develop the “spiritual insights, knowledge, and skills” that are needed for the large-scale growth of the Baha’i community. Baha’i communities, encouraged by institutions such as the International Teaching Centre, have used the “Ruhi” books as the curriculum for these study circles. Currently, there are eight such books: “Reflections on the life of the spirit,” “Arising to serve,” “Teaching children’s grade 1,” “The Twin Manifestations,” “Teaching children’s grade 2,” “Teaching the Cause,” “Walking together on a path of service,” “Covenant” and Baha’is are encouraged to complete them all in a consecutive fashion.

Friday, 13 May 2011

The Problem with the "Ruhi Books"

There has been no critical discussion of Ruhi books or study circles in any Baha’i periodicals - differences of opinion are not tolerated well by many Baha’is, who mistake the concept of unity with quashing all dissent. But there are deeper problems caused by the way that uncomfortable discussions on internet lists are handled and individual Baha’is reprimanded that has presumably scared most thinking Baha’is from speaking out critically about this or any community-related issue. As the Ruhi books are the most important and prevalent activity of Baha’i communities, this is all the more alarming.

But there are two objectionable issues that are major factors in the "Ruhi problem":

1) One is the very idea of a uniform system that is supposed to be used not only by each and every believer in the whole world, which is in itself objectionable.

What is even more dangerous is that each and every "seeker" in the whole wide world is supposed to fit in the narrow Ruhi-framework and be converted through it. We are asked to invite our friends and colleagues, regardless of their cultural, academic, social background to Ruhi Book 1! This is something that is never going to work. And it will do a lot of damage to the reputation of the Faith. It also fail to see how this fits in the statement of the House of Justice back in 1996 or so, speaking about a variety of Institute programs that need to be implemented, each serving different national and even regional needs.

This demand for uniformity has become coercive in the Baha’i community. I recall overhearing a conversation between two Baha’is in which one said that she did not like the Ruhi study circles and the other responded that such reservations meant that she had problems with the Covenant. Another Baha’i, in an e-mail conversation, wondered how one might offer criticisms of the Ruhi system without appearing to attack the Covenant.

2) The second issue is the way we "evaluate." There is no critical assessment that would allow for a modification and adaptation or, if necessary, substitution of study-materials. Evaluation, here, means only counting Baha’is and non-Baha’is participating in courses. If the number is higher than X we move on to another category. In other words, the content is not evaluated, only the implementation. The Ruhi-system is treated tantamount to a revelation from God. It is perfect and suitable, nothing to change about it: it just needs to be implemented. If it doesn’t work, it’s not the material that’s wrong. We were just too dumb to use it.

In the long run, I see two problems:

One is, the community will be split, a number of activities have already ceased, a number of friends have pulled back from activities, because of the perceived attitude "either you’re with Ruhi, or you’re not working with us". You can't even be supportive of the process and suggest changes. You will immediately be seen as "Anti-Ruhi" and having problem with covenant even if you have served a member of National spiritual Assembly or given your services as a counselor for number of years.

The other is: should Ruhi prove to not be such a success after all, frustration might spread in large parts of the community.

There are serious misunderstandings creeping in the minds of Baha’i Intellectuals who convey there ideas in hidden fearing from being excommunicated and branded as covenant breakers.

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.

Structural issues

Much emphasis is placed on a county in South Florida where a core number of Baha’is have completed the sequence, and around 40-50 individuals who were not Baha’is have converted having undertaken some study circles.

It is proposed that this forms a model of how the Ruhi books can advance the process of “entry by troops”. There are three problems with this approach.

First, we have no way of knowing whether it is the study circles or something indirectly related to these courses that has been the factor that enabled these individuals to convert. It is possible that mobilizing Baha’is to do anything in large numbers will attract non-Baha’is, and it is the non-specific aspects of the study circles that work, such as socializing with Baha’is. If that is the case, then it would argue for increased numbers of deepenings, firesides, and a myriad of other activities, rather than solely study circles.

Second, we have no way of knowing if these individuals would have become Baha’is anyway, irrespective of study circles or not.

Third, we have no way of knowing if the study circles put off other individuals who may have become Baha’is but didn’t. It has been suggested that intellectuals and prominent people would not find this approach positive.

Fourth, there may be other clusters that have met similar criteria as South Florida, and yet have not experienced any growth. Information on all “A-Clusters” could be released and discussed.