Just wondering…

Why is it that every Baha’i blog I see includes a disclaimer that any views expressed here are those of the blogger only and do not necessarily represent the worldwide Baha’i community, its institutions or subsidiaries (or words to that effect)? Is there a rule somewhere that all Baha’i bloggers have to put that? I haven’t seen that kind of thing on other religious blogs.

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10 Responses

  1. I’ve noticed it myself. The disclaimer on my blog (The Cormorant Baker) doesn’t mention the Baha’i administration at all. It does contain a warning that the contents might not make much sense to a non-Baha’i and that my sense of humour might not be shared by the reader. Baquia (Baha’i Rants) doesn’t seem to have a disclaimer, and nor does Randy Burns (Kitab-i-Iqan Page by Page). Alison Marshall’s disclaimer (Meditations on Baha’u’llah) doesn’t mention the Baha’i administration – but then she was expelled, so I guess that doesn’t count. Perhaps these four are isolated exceptions.

    But back to your question — no I haven’t seen any rule, and the ubiquitous disclaimers are a bit of a mystery.

    ka kite,
    Steve

  2. Good point. It looks like a lot of Baha’i blogs don’t have one. I wonder what blogs I was looking at that day that made me think that. I don’t think your disclaimer is really in the same class as the others who have one. More true to the spirit of the blog, and not so legalistic.

  3. This is a good question. I think Baha’is include a disclaimer in their websites and blogs because they don’t want to mislead people about the Baha’i Faith, even if it is a minor fact or an error in interpretation, etc.

    The Baha’i Faith is relatively new on the world scene, there are people who know practically nothing about it. And Baha’is believe that as humans, we error in our understanding of God’s word. Therefore, what individual Baha’is say doesn’t necessarily represent the true Baha’i teachings. For instance, a Baha’i may individually believe that Rumi was a prophet of God, or a minor one at that. However, the Baha’i writing does not mention Rumi as a Prophet of God nor does it reject him as a prophet of God. There is no “official” position on this as far as I am aware of. Therefore, an indivual Baha’i who believes Rumi was a minor prophet doesn’t want to have people believe that it is an official teaching of the Baha’i Faith because that may not be the truth. Now, this is just an example that I came up with so it’s not perfect but I think you can see the basic point I am trying to make.

    Here is a better example; Dr. Francis Beckwith wrote a book entitled “Baha’i, A Christian response to Baha’ism, in 1985. In it he wrote that Baha’is believe Confucius was a manifestation and Prophet of God. It is apparent that Dr. Beckwith got this not from the Baha’i teachings but from a book written by an individual Baha’i written years ago. While recognized as a great moral teacher and reformer, Confucius is not regarded as a manifestation or prophet in the Baha’i Writings. “Confucius was not a Prophet. It is quite correct to say he is the founder of a moral system and a great reformer.” (Shoghi Effendi, Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 41)

  4. Yes, I can see that. I wonder though if the proportion of Baha’i bloggers who put the disclaimer is higher compared to bloggers from other religions. (People misrepresent other religions too, right?) Based on my anecdotal experience, I suspect Baha’i bloggers are more prone to disclaiming, but I could be mistaken. And I suspect this says something about Baha’i culture, but I’m not sure what that is.

    About your Rumi example, I think that says something about the Baha’i Faith, too. There may not be an official position on whether Rumi was a minor prophet. (And since there’s no one in the Baha’i community today who can give an official position, it will never be officially determined, at least until the next Manifestation comes.)

    But the mere fact that you can speculate on that says something about Baha’i beliefs: that it’s possible he could have been a prophet. You would never speculate that he was a Manifestation. And that also says something about Baha’i beliefs. Baha’i doctrines draw lines showing what must and must not be believed, but it also draws lines showing what can be believed if you want to believe it, i.e. what can be speculated, and conversely what cannot be speculated. So even if a blogger has a disclaimer, what he speculates about indicates the parameters or normative envelope of the Baha’i belief system.

  5. Just for the record: ‘Abdu’l-Baha confirms in an (untranslated) Persian tablet that Rumi was a minor prophet.

    As for the disclaimers, it’s probably a reflection of the fact that in the Faith interpretation in the official sense is not permitted. People make their own decisions, and hold their own opinions but they will never be raised to the level of dogma.

    As wonderful as people’s own opinions are, they are quick to want to direct people to official sources, which are the source of their understanding.

    It’s perhaps an over-protective approach, but I’d rather an over-protective approach than to a system of clergy any day of the week.

    Love the blog, keep up the good work and keep the posts flowing.

    With warmest Baha’i love.

  6. As for the disclaimers, it’s probably a reflection of the fact that in the Faith interpretation in the official sense is not permitted. People make their own decisions, and hold their own opinions but they will never be raised to the level of dogma.

    That’s also true in Catholicism. Maybe we need to have disclaimers too, since people seem to think all sorts of strange things about Catholicism based on what they hear from one random Catholic.

    It’s perhaps an over-protective approach, but I’d rather an over-protective approach than to a system of clergy any day of the week.

    What do clergy have to do with it?

  7. Dear Omeed,

    Can you please send me a private email, and tell me in which untranslated Tablet does Abd’ul-Baha mention that Rumi was a prophet. I have never seen this and I would be very interested. I would be very greatfull if you brought it to my attention. Thank you.

  8. Sorry Omeed jan, my email is
    kazemifarshid@yahoo.ca

    Thanks again

  9. I suspect that that untranslated tablet may be found in Kitab-i-Hearsay. But if it in fact exists, feel free to post it here in the original. I can read Arabic and Persian with the aid of a dictionary, and I will happily post a provisional translation.

  10. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

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