Asking Questions: The Answer to Fundamentalism

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Asking Questions: The Answer to Fundamentalism
by alborz
27-May-2009
 

Is the ability to ask questions something we need to learn or is it an innate ability?  How should we ask questions so that the passive mind and soul be awakened?  How can we learn to ask questions so that we are not presented with false choices?  Why do we sometimes fear questions?

Light casts a shadow and darkness casts nothing.  A shadow depends on light and shadows are where questions arise.  Do we have the courage to question and fear not the answers?

Questions can have many motivations and qualities.  There are those that are inquisitive and those that are rhetorical.  Religious instruction relies on a catechizing tradition of question and answer. Here, a question is tailored to a specific doctrinal response, from which the mind may not deviate.  Also, there is a repetitive element that intends to teach by rote.  Both are antithetical to independent thinking.

In our society, those that have ventured to ask penetrating questions have faced dire consequences born out of fundamentalism.  Fundamentalism has no patience or courteous consideration for penetrating questions.

While fundamentalism is closely associated with religion, it is a mental attitude rather than a religious belief.  It is not the spiritual message at the core of a religion but rather its dogmatic expression grounded in fear.  Fundamentalism can therefore be said to be a measure of the hold that the clerical order has upon the masses.  Fundamentalism defines the dependency of the many on the interpretation of the few.  It is also laden with the fear of being counted amongst the erring!

With centuries of dependence on the clerical order, how can we be weaned from such dependency?  Is it not in this context that Marx referred to religion and by extension those that wield authority in its name, as ‘the opiate of the people’?

Our historical need for leadership and our vulnerability to being different is a measure of our collective fears and our dependence.   We demand answers to questions we dread to ask!

Meanwhile we are reminded of the power of the state in its public executions.  Such is the stage from which the public is reminded of the consequences of defiance.  When a man is killed with a prayer of forgiveness on his lips for the crimes of those who are killing him, we must question social justice.   When another is imprisoned for sacrilegious heresy and then dies in a spirit of devout humility, we must question orthodox religion.  When the person is condemned as stirrer-up of mischief, a provoker of sedition and instigator of social chaos dies quoting poetry, we begin to wonder about our values.

It is through these reversals that our society has learned that they have been duped, made fools of, and raped of their judgement.  Will our questions be an answer to fundamentalism?

Alborz

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Sorry, I have yet to receive an adequate response from you

by Anonymous414 (not verified) on

First I am no ones emulator nor do I emulate. Second the Baha'i writings themselves sound fundamentalist to me, and given this I reject your patronizing attempt to prosletyze to me. Third you have yet to respond to the points raised earlier regarding the clearly established fundamentalism of your own creed and the fundamentalism of your own behavior. That you refuse to do so amply testifies to your own lack of integrity, fidelity or faith in the matter, and so with that I bid you farewell by stating that your behavior has conclusively proven to me that what NUR has said and shown about the Baha'i Faith is in fact true.

Goodbye!


alborz

Anonymous414, Answers in previous response !

by alborz on

If you truly seek an answer you can begin with reading my previous response again and then avail yourself to the ocean of Writings that are available to you, online. 

http://reference.bahai.org/en/

No variation of a response that I have already provided you will be regarded as satisfactory and infact this is precisely what this blog is about.

Ask the correct question and seek an answer independently and with fidelity, integrity and faith.  Any other approach would violated what I have proposed in this blog.

If you you are not an "emulator" then seek not an "emulated" .

Alborz


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Fundamentalism is as fundamentalism does

by Anonymous414 (not verified) on

Dear Alborz,

I quoted you material that clearly establishes the Baha'i Faith's own fundamentalism. Whatever motives the now banned NUR had is largely irrelevant since the quotes provided are prima facie and establish a clear pattern of fundamentalism in your own religion making your position here inconsistent and very hypocritical. Also purity of motive or the lack of it is not something that can be easily assayed unless you are claiming to be psychic and divinely inspired to be able to read into the essence of people's motives and minds. NUR did not make the quotes up and you have not addressed the factuality of the material at hand. The statements are also not taken out of any context. It is this material I am asking you to address. Not what motives NUR had or didn't have.

Please stick to the topic and kindly stop skirting around the issue and address the blatant fundamentalism that exists in the Baha'i Faith as established by the material quoted.

Thank you.


alborz

Anonymous414 - Questions, Statements and Fundamentalism

by alborz on

You have begun your comments by re-posting material belonging to a blogger that has a long history of attacking the Faith on numerous sites and most recently here on this site. They have not merited a response in the past nor do they deserve one now for the simple reason that the motives have been far from pure.  Responding to it would not result in the elucidation of a subject as he has on every occassion used his diatribe to misinform and misrepresent.  No subject is ever understood nor can be appreciated when taken out of context. This is precisely the style of his diatribe.

Just as you would not be able to tell me what object the color green would represent, he is intent on telling you that it represents poison ivy, where as if you were to examine it for yourself, you may conclude that it is mint.  To make this distinction, the blog points out the risk with false choices and asking the wrong questions.

As for the salient part of your comment which is related to this blog, people are free to ask any question that they wish, just as I am free to respond as I may.  While purity of motive is a significant factor in the effort that is expended in reaching an understanding, such an outcome is not always guaranteed nor should it be.  As a reference, I suggest that you read my exchange with PB, earlier in this thread, as it distinguishes the extent to which I was willing to respond vs. another instance to which you have referred.  In both instances, it is my hope that an openess in mind results.  It is just a hope though.

Again, if this blog has stirred your mind and soul to ask questions, then far be it for me to stand in your way of finding answers to them.  I have never claimed to have answers to anyone's questions, nor will I ever. Those that have mistakenly assumed such a posture, have been the cause of much suffering.  The blogs states that "Fundamentalism defines the dependency of the many on the interpretation of the few."  Only you can guard against this.

I simply recommend that you neither seek answers from me nor anyone else, but rather seek them independently.  Nothing has ever been understood by a sentence here and there and to prove a predestined conclusion. Conclusions are validated when disconfirming evidence is not found.  I have come to rely on this approach in attempting to ask the correct questions and then hopefully reaching a conlcusion.  But, alas, neither is possible without fidelity, integrity and faith.

Finally, I am curious to know whether the 414 at the end of your screenname signifies anything.  I have noticed it at the end of the comments left by "others".  A response is not expected, though. 

Alborz


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Alborz, what is this all about, then?

by Anonymous414 (not verified) on

http://www.fglaysher.com/bahaicensorship/DMartin.h...

"We have inherited a dangerous delusion from Christianity that our individual conscience is supreme. This is not a Baha'i belief. In the end, in the context of both our role in the community and our role in the greater world, we must be prepared to sacrifice our personal
convictions or opinions. The belief that individual conscience is supreme is equivalent to "taking partners with God" which is abhorrent to the Teachings of the Faith."
http://www.bahai-library.org/talks/martin.watson.h...

or

Baha'u'llah (the Baha'i founder) On the Critics of the Cause

"In
Ma'idih-i-Asmani, vol. 4, page 355
http://reference.bahai.org/fa/t/b/MAS4/mas4-355.ht...

Translation by Wahid Azal (Jan. 7, 2009)

QUOTE

Chapter 11

The Critics of the Cause of God (munkirin-i-amru'llah)

The Ancient Beauty in the Tablet of Habib from Maragha, which begins with "H B hear the call of God from the direction of the throne by the protective signs/verses (bi-ayati muhayyimin)..etc." they [i.e. Husayn 'Ali Nuri] enunciate the command (mi-farmayand) [i.e. state],

By God, the Truth, whomsoever criticizes it [i.e. Baha'ism], [which is] possessed of the manifest, the brilliant, the high and the perspicuous excellence, it behoveth him to ask his mother [yanbaghi
lahu bi-an yas'al min ummihi] about his origins [or 'state', i.e.'hal', meaning he should inquire his mother about his legitimate conception – trans.], for he shall return to the nethermost hell
[asfal al-jahim]"…

In Promulgation of Universal Peace p. 322 the following is quoted by 'Abbas Effendi from a prayer by his father, cf. THE BAHA'I FAITH AND ISLAM (ed.) Heshmat Moayyad (The Association for Baha'i Studies: Ottawa, 1990), p.23

Quote

O God! Whomsoever violates My Covenant, O God, humiliate him. Verily
whosoever violates My Covenant, erase and efface him."

Don't these contradict what you are saying here. The now banned NUR put up a lot of interesting material from your own writings and statements and scriptures that makes Bahai look extremely fundamentalist. I never saw you addressing his points directly but rather you attacked his person instead like you are now attacking Reza who I also disagree with on many things. Isn't that a fundamentalist mentality you are displaying?

If you want the end of fundamentalism completely then you must be prepared to not only allow other people's legitimate questions to go adequately answered but also to be prepared to question the fundamentals of your own belief system and creed from time to time. Have you ever questioned the fundamentals of the Baha'i Faith and your most sacred, cherished beliefs about it? Have you ever thought that the UHJ might not be infallible? If not then you are equally a fundamentalist as Reza is a fundamentalist.


alborz

Reza41, you flatter me !

by alborz on

You flatter me, by obsessively following my blogs and comments!

This explains why you don't have time to respond to the direct and virulent attacks that many Iranian Moslems make on Islam every other day on this site.  My sense of decorum prevents me from referencing them directly here, but I guess you know that even an attempt on your part to respond to them will result in a flood of more attacks.

Also, you probably don't have time to ever write a blog of your own on Islam or any other subject for that matter. Could the reason that the one time that you did, the response was so negative that you have found it best to limit yourself to attacking the Faith, with impunity.

I say with impunity because you feel safe in attacking the Faith online, just as your masters do in Iran, offline.  You know that those that have responded to you abide by principles that restrain them from ever letting you have it, the way many others have repeatedly. Such is the power of faith, if you only knew. 

So, your enmity towards me and my faith will be responded to with empathy.  The predicament that you face alone is understandable.  After all you are a minority also!  Got it?

You may now continue with your diatribe, if it pleases you.

Alborz

PS. I am working on another blog but it won't be posted for another few days. So you have time to come up with some new material.

 


Reza 41

Hello Alborz!

by Reza 41 on

"I was wondering why you had not shown up earlier" ?

I didn't need too,not because I was busy 

I told you; my reaction Solly defensive ,only lie , slanders against my belief(Islam -Iran) or insinuate your belief different than what truly is ,than prompt me to respond you or any one of you ,

you were doing fine ,writing to back and forth to PB,,

I don't have problem you talk about your belief all day long ,it is entertaining for me ,until you attributed your hallucinations to Iran- Quran/Islam .(which you did when you responded princes) than I have come in to turn switch light on, on true foundation of Bahai belief, like the one down blew. 

I don't like to spin my wheel on you what you belief, you are the one,that, IF GOD speak loudly in your ear and tell you ,believing Baha'ullah means =SHERK. you will  run, while you running you call "ya jamale mobarak, ya Bahaullah pleas help me " lol

therefore ,is not for me to change your belief, I respect any one belief as long as they do the same, I see ,you still belief that we shia-Muslim are totally depend on blind Taglid , that is fine, you are free to believe what you like to believe. 

"I can only offer you an argument but I can't offer you an understanding. So keep reading and perhaps you will understand" also. You can start by reading my response to Leyla Gilani.(IN YOUR PAST BLOG) 

peace


alborz

Hello Reza41 !

by alborz on

I was wondering why you had not shown up earlier.

I thought, perhaps you were working on some new material, but alas you disappoint me again with the same old stuff to which you have responses from more patient folks that I.

I can only offer you an argument but I can't offer you an understanding. So keep reading and perhaps you will understand also. You can start by reading my response to PB.

Sorry,

Alborz


Reza 41

I agree too ,princes said it all...

by Reza 41 on

Dear princes thank you ;

allow me to say that your views and description on fundamentalism , is the best  I've ever seen , how ever this view  perfectly fit the Baha'i faith tody, I dont know if you know ,so with your permission , I'm going to use perimeter and framework of your words to describe how true Baha'i belief stand on today .(I hope you dont mind)Prof would be available if any one like to challenge this view:

As for Bahai fundamentalism faith, the way I see it, the source of the problem lies in both restricting access to information, which might be contradictory to its(Baha'i) doctrine, in other words, (Baha'i institutes) only allows access to biased information while anything that might be contradictory to its basic principles is always interpreted in a slanted way by a core few and then spoon fed to the masses. But more importantly,( Bahai institutes) brainwashes its members into believing in a narrowly defined set of basic principles and ‘re-educates’ them to stop questioning those very fundamentals. So the fatal thing about Baha'i fundamentalism lies in the creation of taboos . (like how taboo is talking about Bahaullah's divinely inspired or not and his credibility or how taboo is talking about legality of UHJ with out guardian of the faith) 

I don't really know how, in the short run, one un brainwashes fundamentalist, but in the long run it can be achieved through breaking( these )taboos (which it was made to serve behind curtain authoritarian World Government and internationalism regime that govern and has hold on pocket of Bahais adherents for now, and hoping to conquer  the world. )"zehi ze khiyal e batel"

And dear Alborz ; I also agree with you when you said : "In our society, those that have ventured to ask penetrating questions have faced dire consequences born out of fundamentalism.  Fundamentalism has no patience or courteous consideration for penetrating questions."

In Bahai faith, they mark those individuals that have "penetrating question" as covenant breakers or "Ashrar" and apostates which  'Abdu'l-Baha called for the complete exclusion from the Baha'i community of anyone found to be infected with the virus of Covenant-breaking(who, have penetrating questions) and urged all believers to shun any contact whatever with the persons involved.

That is very true Mr.Alborz, they have to face real dire consequences because they "questioned",although many of these individual who have "penetrating question" did also believed Baha'i institutions and most definitely "Bahaullah"mission and still got shunned like Alison Marshal From NZ Dr. Joan Cole, what do you have to say about tham Mr. Alborz?

As far as clear evidence of Bahai brain washing system "restricting access its adherents to information" is Bahaullah's and Bob's their Arabic writing, which is kept away from quisitive many eyes of Persians ,and not others, as I mention in my blogs it has been 136 years which Book-i-Aghdas written , but it has not been translated in to Farsi not even by AB-Baha , nor SH-Afandi , because in true reality; there is many points that Baha'ullah have in this book, that instigate doubt of health of the writer, and Bahai brain washing system dont want any one to read and translated this book by their own brain(that is the law) .

you wrote :Individual freedoms are preserved, just as yours are when you choose to live in a society with laws and oridnances.  Without the recognition of the benefits of these laws, you may well choose to live elsewhere.

well said, this is repeat words of Islamic republic of Iran toward to Bahaies or any other cults, and it was observed by Bahai for 2 decades and under that law Iranian Bahai were peacefully were living side by side of their Muslim countrymen, than why all of the sun,UHJ arbitrary decided not to observe Iran country's  NON proselytizing law any more, than ordered to some naive adherents do Ruhi classes in Shiraz and same time blow their NGO cover up, 18 weeks later ?( becuse evils do evils)

Mr. Alborz , if you dont mind, please let me know what point am I missing ? thanks  

there Farsi proverb saying : مثل كبك كله شون را كردند زير برف هي حرفهاي گنده گنده ميزنند

there is bird when she goes hiding ,she put her head(only)in the snow ,think no one can see her. unfurtunately Bahais attribute  many thing to others that they literally practice it in their faith .

thanks again Princes


alborz

I agree with you Princess...

by alborz on

... that asking questions is an innate quality, and yes it is seen in an unabashed way in children.  What a tragedy that it is lost in children as a consequence of their surroundings and the responses they get to questions.

As you said, asking the correct question is also a challenge that we face. Information and education goes a long way to addressing the challenges along the way, but social norms will continue to exert their influence in how these questions are posed.

Earlier we had an exchange earlier with regard to "taboos", and it is certainly relevant here also.  As I said in the blog "Fundamentalism defines the dependency of the many on the interpretation of the few.  It is also laden with the fear of being counted amongst the erring! "  In this regard, I feel that so long as we are sincere then questions  do lead to an openness in mind and therefore there are no taboos.  Sincerity is a rare commodity and so many questions are really not questions but statement with a question mark.

As for a fundamentalism, fear is a significant factor.  After all fundamentalism is born out of the fear of a possible doctrinal compromise with modern society.  It therefore demands strict adherence in response and in doing so is not tolerant of questions.  I believe that when there is no more fear, then the transition can begin.  The consuming flames of fear is, however, fanned by those intent on maintaining their hold on the masses.  When ground is lost, the reaction is more intense.  We have witnessed this cycle so many time in Iran.

I look forward to your thoughts.

Alborz


faryarm

Questions TO PB

by faryarm on

PB

Which part of what you call Bahai "Philosophy" do you find "narrow?"

What really is your understanding of Bahai Administrative system to be called "authoritarian  structure "?

What is your perception of The Bloggers "personal subscriptions?"

Thanks

faryarm 


alborz

PB - Thank you...

by alborz on

...for the clarification as I now understand your comment.

Your premise is that "my personal subscriptions", ipso facto, makes me "espouse to (Baha'i), a form of fundamentalism".  Let me begin by stating that I can appreciate the "plausability" of such a conclusion given that much of the ravages of fundamentalism is closely associated with religion.

I also appreciate your conclusion in that the title of my blog "sounds strange", given your premise about me and my belief.

Let me begin with the dissonance that you note between the title of the blog and your premise.  Either I have made a mistake in the choice of the title or your premise is not valid.  If we can agree that the title is a reflection of my perspective, as stated in the blog itself, then there is good reason to examine the validity of your premise; as it is unlikely that I have mistakenly expressed views that are in contradiction with my "personal subscriptions".

I assure you that I feel no such contradiction, as my understanding of my Faith is entirely different than your understading of it.  Those that have studied the Baha'i Faith without bias or prejudice, would attest to the following historical facts, philosophical and organizational frameworks.

A brief review of its history reveals that the early believers consisted of a distinguished, enlightened and educated class in theology, literature and governance.  They reached the station of certitude by "asking questions", an unwelcomed act in 19th century Persia, and each and everyone of them faced dire consequences.  It was precisely the questions that they asked that sealed their fate under the Qajars and the influence of the clerical order of the time.

The philosophical framework of this Faith, also is a testament to the high esteem it holds for "questions".  You may or may not know but the Baha'i months each have been named after an attribute of God and one of the months is actually named "Masa'il", or "Questions".  There is no month named "Answers" !  Although not all questions lead to necessarily conclusive answers; they do lead to an openness in mind, a humility in response and readiness of apprehension that finds resolution rather than solutions and which can rest as easily with paradoxes as with peace.

The administrative bodies of the Faith are not mere components of an organizational framework.  Far from it, they represent and exemplify the animating principles of this Faith.  Your characterization of it as a choice between "authoritarian structure" and "self freedom" is indeed a reflection of the basis on which you may have asked your original question. Whether you revise this perspective or not depends on whether you are compelled to investigate and find disconfirming evidence.  Validation of a perspective is only achieved if disconfirming evidence cannot be found!

Consistent with the history and teachings of this Faith, the administrative bodies of this Faith are first and foremost formed by the adherents of the Faith.  The adherenets are from all walks of life, and since education is highly valued in this Faith, they value understanding and recognize the importance of asking questions as a means to achieving and maintaining faith.  Faith is defined as "first, conscious knowledge and second, the practice of good deeds".  None of the members of these institutions holds a position of power, but are distinguished by their humility.  There is no clergy in this Faith and investigation, understanding and certitude is to be achieved by the individual. Can this possibly occur without asking questions?

Membership on these administrative bodies are through a process of elections, by secret ballot. There are no nominees and no campaigns.  Members of the community cast their vote for those that they believe have the following qualities "unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability, and mature experience".  (see http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/DG/dg-63.html.iso8859-1?query=unquestioned|loyalty&action=highlight#gr1)

Individual freedoms are preserved, just as yours are when you choose to live in a society with laws and oridnances.  Without the recognition of the benefits of these laws, you may well choose to live elsewhere.  No adherent of this Faith is deprived from such a choice.

While I don't expect that you accept or agree with what I have conveyed here, nor find it a compelling response to your question, it is my hope that you realize that I feel nor experience any contradiction between what I have posed in this blog and my "personal subscription".

Be Well,

Alborz


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question!

by PB (not verified) on

...regarding your statment with a question mark at the end, it is still a statement !

"A rose by any other name is still a rose." W.S.

It is your prerogative to interpret it as you prefer, but a question it is! Aren't the narrow confines of the very philosophy you espouse to (bahai), a form of fundamentalism too? Doesn't it support the idea of authoritarian structure, rather than self freedom? Do you think the title of your article, sounds strange, given your personal subscriptions?


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the rock God can't lift

by Anonymous414 (not verified) on

Yes, God created a rock even He can't lift. It's called the closed human heart.

Now give me your money....


Princess

NOT to ask question is a learned behaviour.

by Princess on

Dear Alborz,

 

Again you’ve raised a few excellent questions in this post. To give you my take on it -  I have not thought about this for long - I believe the ability to question is innate to all of us. Every child asks questions, and sometimes incessantly so.  However, asking the right question(s) requires access to information, lots of it. The more informed we are, the more we are able to ask the ‘right’ questions.

 

As for fundamentalism, the way I see it, the source of the problem lies in both restricting access to information, which might be contradictory to its doctrine, in other words, it only allows access to biased information while anything that might be contradictory to its basic principles is always interpreted in a slanted way by a core few and then spoon fed to the masses. But more importantly, it brainwashes its members into believing in a narrowly defined set of basic principles and ‘re-educates’ them to stop questioning those very fundaments. So the fatal thing about fundamentalism lies in the creation of taboos.  

 

I don't really know how, in the short run, one unbrainwashes fundamentalist, but in the long run it can be achieved through breaking taboos. I shall keep thinking about this and get back to you if I can think of anything worth sharing.  

Take care,

Princess


alborz

PB - Good points, but...

by alborz on

...regarding your statment with a question mark at the end, it is still a statement !

I can try to answer a question but will not have a chance at answering a statement!

Alborz


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Dear Eroonman. as I

by Anonymous.friend (not verified) on

Dear Eroonman.
as I undestand from your posting, I think you are right on one hand, There is no need for people today to go through religeous leaders.It was necessary centries ago as most people did not have access to formal education as education was a privilage to certain people, especially those who were in religious realm.Today anyhow ,everybody has the opportunity of acquiring knowledge, religious or not.so we all have the capacity of looking for truth and use our own judgement to accept or reject it.
Cocerning the issue of money, this matter exists in all religions, the fund is used for different purposes and each religion has its own rules and standard about it,of course there are shenanigan people in all religions who having the opportunity of stealing try to do that and that does not mean that this issue of asking money from believers of each religion is merely for ilicit usage.
I am sure tou are kidding about the last question!


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fundamentalism n

by PB (not verified) on

Freedom of expression and exposure to ideas, makes people ponder, evaluate and sometimes ascend to a higher platform spiritually, albeit incrementally. However, going from one dogma to next, is not real change. It takes a lot of growth and maturity to free oneself from that line of thinking. Are we ready for that as a nation? Sure, one step at a time... sometimes , it is like two steps forward, one step back. (rise of reactionary fundamentalism throughout the world is a good example in this decade)

P.S. Have you ever contemplated on how fundamentalist/dogmatic your philosophy may seem to others?


eroonman

Here's a Question...

by eroonman on

If God is all around me, and hears my thoughts and prayers, then why do I need to go to a Priest, a Mollah, or a Rabbi, in a Church, a Mosque or a Temple? Why can't I just think my prayer and be done with it?

Also, if God is all around me, and is free, then why do all the religions want to charge me money all the time?

Finally, if God is all powerful, can he create a rock so big that even he can't lift it?