Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Paragraph 40

Moreover, in the traditions the terms "sun" and "moon" have been applied to prayer and fasting, even as it is said: "Fasting is illumination, prayer is light." One day, a well-known divine came to visit Us. While We were conversing with him, he referred to the above-quoted tradition. He said: "Inasmuch as fasting causeth the heat of the body to increase, it hath therefore been likened unto the light of the sun; and as the prayer of the night-season refresheth man, it hath been compared unto the radiance of the moon." Thereupon We realized that that poor man had not been favoured with a single drop of the ocean of true understanding, and had strayed far from the burning Bush of divine wisdom. We then politely observed to him saying: "The interpretation your honour hath given to this tradition is the one current amongst the people. Could it not be interpreted differently?" He asked Us: "What could it be?" We made reply: "Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, and the most distinguished of God's chosen Ones, hath likened the Dispensation of the Qur'án unto heaven, by reason of its loftiness, its paramount influence, its majesty, and the fact that it comprehendeth all religions. And as the sun and moon constitute the brightest and most prominent luminaries in the heavens, similarly in the heaven of the religion of God two shining orbs have been ordained -- fasting and prayer. 'Islam is heaven; fasting is its sun, prayer, its moon.'"

The reason that we are are writing about all of this, and studying he Kitab-i-Iqan in such detail, is because the Guardian said that if we wanted to be effective teachers of the Faith, we needed to understand the various arguments that Baha'u'llah uses in this book.

In this paragraph, two things really stand out in this light. First, why would Baha'u'llah specifically bring up this man's interpretation? Perhaps because he had tried to find a physical interpretation to this spiritual saying, and it was Baha'u'llah's way of giving us an answer to this common response. Many people look for literal interpretations to spiritual prophecies, or a physical understanding of a metaphorical truth. Here, Baha'u'llah seems to be correcting this common misunderstanding, as well as offering us a response to such a comment.

Second, note how He doesn't say "You're a bozo." Instead, He demonstrates for us how to respond so as to not hurt another's heart.

He does not say "You believe this", but instead points out that the man is merely repeating a current or fashionable belief.

Now, also take a closer look at the way Baha'u'llah describes the situation. He refers to this "well-known divine" as a "poor man". There is an obvious sense of sympathy and compassion for him. Baha'u'llah recognizes that he has "not been favoured" by God with understanding. How sad this is. This poor man has strayed far. Our heart goes out to him.

Then, instead of saying that he is wrong, Baha'u'llah is polite. He does not "correct" him, but instead encourages his understanding. he then leads him to a better understanding. He allows the other man to ask for the other interpretation, instead of imposing it upon him. Baha'u'llah then brings it right back to Muhammad, something that this other man would obviously know and agree with. He is, after all, a divine, so his awareness of the verses of the Qur'an can be presumed.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Paragraph 39

The traditions established the fact that in all Dispensations the law of prayer hath constituted a fundamental element of the Revelation of all the Prophets of God -- a law the form and the manner of which hath been adapted to the varying requirements of every age. Inasmuch as every subsequent Revelation hath abolished the manners, habits, and teachings that have been clearly, specifically, and firmly established by the former Dispensation, these have accordingly been symbolically expressed in terms of 'sun' and 'moon'. "That He might prove you, which of you excel in deeds."[1]
[1 Qur'án 67:2.]

Here Baha'u'llah is showing us yet another aspect of the depth of meaning with Sacred Texts. He has already established that one meaning of the terms "sun", "moon" and "stars" are the divines in all the various Faiths. Now He is giving us another definition: that of prayer.

Every religion has some form of prayer, some way for people to commune with their Creator.

But, and here has been the kicker throughout history, they all do it differently. Some stand, some kneel, some raise their hands, others have their hands at their sides. The confusion, though, arises when some feel that the way they pray is the "correct" one. They confuse the form of the prayer for the state of prayer.

Prayer is an inner condition. It is a state of the soul. The way that we get to that state depends upon the individual. And when we achieve that state, when we immerse ourselves in the spirit of the prayer, then it feels as if our entire being is lit up. We feel that warmth and glow, as if our spirit was bathing in sunlight. We are recharged, spiritually, and we are more susceptible to the promptings of the spirit.

This is something that every Messenger of God has helped us learn.

Now, looking at that last line, Baha'u'llah quotes the Qur'an, and it is an interesting quote. It doesn't appear, to us at least, to have any direct bearing on the topic at hand. However, when we look at the next line verse in the Surih of Mulk, it reads, "[And] who created seven heavens in layers. You do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency. So return [your] vision [to the sky]; do you see any breaks?" This is the translation that seemed to really call attention to the idea of singularity in the sky. In other translations it reads, "Canst thou see any rifts", or "can you see any disorder".

When we refer this to the idea of prayer, we begin to see the consistency throughout all faiths. There is no division. They all refer us to prayer.

There are wonderful examples on YouTube about people of one faith praying like those of another. Of course, this is limited to a few sects, such as this Buddhist group (above) praying like Muslims, but still, it shows further consistency and crossover between the different faiths.