Posted by: samandal | May 23, 2010

Shoghí Effendí Rabbání, VI: The Forked Path

Declaration of the Báb

Marginalization on the grounds of gender, gender identity and expression, constitutive sexual orientation, consensual sexual relations, ethnic affiliation; sanctioned expulsion as well as the propitiatory identification and punishment of scapegoat-figures; and the banishment that accrues to epitemia or anathema are strategies of exclusion that are ostensibly deployed to keep religion “pure,” but mostly act to consolidate the position and maintain the authority of those in power.

It is usually asserted that the succession of Muhammad-‘Alí was dependent upon his loyalty to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, but authentic human relationships presuppose the existence of mutual trust, respect, context, and self-disclosure between individuals in order that dialogue might develop in an atmosphere of civility and a spirit of conciliation. Loyalty implies an interpersonal commitment to share attitudes, values, and activities. True loyalty cannot be commandeered; it can only be earned through deeds and actions that are just and consistent.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was appointed by Bahá’u’lláh to assume responsibility for the external affairs of the Faith, while Muhammad-‘Alí was appointed to assume responsibility for the internal affairs of the Faith. Therefore, Muhammad-‘Alí represents the esoteric or hidden tradition of the Faith, while ‘Abdu’l-Bahá represents the exoteric or manifest tradition of the Faith. Muhammad-‘Alí stands in relation to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the Ismá‘ílí Imáms stand in relation to the Ithná-‘asharí Imáms. There is no radical, irreconcilable opposition between these two traditions.

The present descendants of the expelled members of Bahá’u’lláh’s family have never been, nor indeed could they ever legitimately be, declared Covenant-breakers. There are, at present, a number of Bahá’ís who believe that these descendants are eligible for appointment by acclamation to the Guardianship and anticipate such a direct male descendant of Bahá’u’lláh to arise as the rightful Guardian. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was both de facto and de jure the first successor of Bahá’u’lláh; Muhammad-‘Alí was de jure, but not de facto, the second successor of Bahá’u’lláh; Shoghí Effendí was de facto, but not de jure, the third successor of Bahá’u’lláh. The lineal descendants of Muhammad-‘Alí may one day unite both the inward (esoteric, bátiní) and the outward (exoteric, záhirí) traditions of the Faith through the role and station of the hereditary Guardianship. The Guardian of the Faith is the bloodline successor of Bahá’u’lláh, much as the Imáms are the bloodline successors of Muhammad.

“Love manifests towards those whom we like as love; towards all those whom we do not like as forgiveness.”                                                                                (Hazrat ‘Ináyat Khán)