The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: <>
Subject: Baha'u'llah against tyranny
Date: Friday, January 29, 1999 5:37 PM

Dear Paul:
I have never understood what critics of Baha'u'llah meant when they called him
Baha'u'llah denounced tyranny.	Repeatedly.  He condemned absolute monarchy
and despotism.	He said the best form of government is a parliamentary
democracy. And he said he had no desire to intervene, or to have his
religion, intervene in civil governance.  Calling him tyrannical is like
saying James Madison had secret Monarchical tendencies.  It bewilders me.
And it simply is not true that he imposed dogmas on people.  He repeatedly
refused to do that.  He said everyone is at a different maqa:m or spiritual
stage, with different perceptions (idra:k), so that you couldn't expect people
to agree on doctrinal beliefs.
Here is what he wrote about political absolutism, probably with regard to the
Ottoman empire in the late 1860s, from:  :

Translations of Shaykhi, Babi and Baha'i Texts, vol. 2, no. 3 (May, 1998)
 Tablet of Baha'u'llah to Ibn-i Asdaq decrying Absolutism
 trans. Juan R. I. Cole
Baha’u’llah/Ibn-i Asdaq, n.d.
O Pen, mention when we dispatched our Tablet entitled "the Cry" to the leader
of the people. He sent it to those renowned for their knowledge, and once
they had read it they were bewildered and spoke forth according to their
selfish passions. In truth, your Lord is All-Knowing, All-Encompassing.
One among them said, "He desires absolute power!"
Say: Woe be to you, who are heedless and remote from God! We have commanded
[even] the monarchs to toss it behind them, and to advance toward God, the
Glorious, the Beauteous. We affirm the appearance of Reason [al-`aql] among
all human beings. Therefore, you will see absolutism (as-sultah al-mutlaqah)
discarded upon the dust, nor will any approach it. Thus was the matter
decreed in a manifest tablet. Say: It [despotism] is the most degraded of
stations in my view, though you might see it as the most exalted station.
Open your eyes, so that you might recognize the one whose Pen rules over all
who are in the heavens and the earth.
Original Arabic Text
Source: Muhammad `Ali Faydi, Khitabat-i Qalam-i A`la dar Sha’n-i nuzul-i
Alvah-i Muluk va Salatin, (N.p., 113 B.E.), pp. 69-70.

Juan Cole
History, U of Michigan
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