Saturday, October 07, 2006

Response To The Mufti Of Egypt (Part-1)

Some of the commentators on this blog have contributed valuable responses to the fabrications made up by the Mufti of Egypt in his television interview. Even though their comments are easily accessible in that specified section of the blog, it was felt that posting them to the main body of the blog would be quite useful, particularly to syndicated readers and feeds. The blue print in this post is added by the blog's owner.

The first segment of the television interview is posted below and followed by the comments related to it. If more comments pertaining to this segment are received, they will be also added to the post.

Hissam stated the following:

I have not yet had enough time to listen to the full interview, yet I am appalled, by the logic, or rather lack of, in this supposedly learned 'man of the cloth.'

The Mufti is saying that the Baha'i Faith is not a religion because it doesn't have clergy or a mechanism of interpretation like that of theological expounding in Islam (Fiqh), and his logic is that since Baha'is don't have a hierarchy of authority, they end up with a hodgepodge of different opinions and ideas (sort of an "everything goes" system) rather than a belief system.

He forgets that this system of interpretation he is talking about, has no basis in the Qur'an (nor in other sacred books). On the contrary, the Qur'an has a verse (ayeh) which clearly forbids interpretation [75:16-19], where God reserves that right to Himself.

The end result is that after 160 years since its inception, a researcher will find that there is only one Baha'i Faith, while the Mufti's "system of interpretation" has resulted in numerous sects often cursing each other and sometimes calling the rest "unbelievers." (For an example, another colleague of his from al-Azhar, shaikh Samak was saying on television a couple of months ago that Sunnis should not marry Shiites).

In the Baha'i Faith, believers are free to study and investigate for themselves without influencing others, or providing official opinions and interpretations. Only the appointed successors of Baha'u'llah (Abdu'l-Baha & the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi) were empowered to interpret the revelation of Baha'u'llah. Thus, the Faith remained united and free of baseless interpretations, which is exactly the opposite of what the Mufti has indicated in his statement by saying "they end up with a hodgepodge of different opinions and ideas (sort of an "everything goes" system) rather than a belief system." In fact, this is exactly what happened in Islam since every so-called Shaikh, Imam, Mullah or other have taken the liberty to interpret the Qur'an resulting in "a hodgepodge of different opinions and ideas...everything goes."

The Baha'i Faith has no clergy, but has elected ruling Institutions, such as the Universal House of Justice, the National Spiritual Assemblies and the Local Spiritual Assemblies. These Institutions have the authority and the power to administer the affairs of the Baha'i Faith, but cannot interpret the writings. The Universal House of Justice, the only current Infallible Institution in the Baha'i Faith, can also legislate on matters not specifically revealed in the Most Holy Book (al-Kitab al-Aqdas) . Another branch of the Baha'i administration is the appointed Institution of the Learned, these are individual Baha'is who assist, guide and collaborate with the elected Institutions of the Rulers, but are not given power or authority over the administration of the Faith--these respected and learned individuals are under the direction of the Universal House of Justice through the International Teaching Centre. They are the Hands of the Cause of God (who were appointed by the Central Figures of the Baha'i Faith) succeeded by the Institution of the Counsellors which carries the work of the Hands of the Cause of protection and propagation of the Baha'i Faith into the future. The Continental Counsellors appoint Auxiliary Board Members to work at the regional level, who in turn appoint Assistants to help them in the discharge of their duties at the local level.

The other point which attracted my attention in the short segment I watched was that, contrary to what has been said on Egyptian television for decades about there being only three 'heavenly' religions, and in order to support his argument about why the Baha'i Faith is different from other "religions," he mentions the Buddhists having their "Book," and the Hindus and their "Book," in essence he is admitting that there are religions other than the THREE (...but, of course, not Baha'i).

As to whether the Baha'i Faith is a religion or not, there are a couple of pages written about that in Arabic that may be of interest to the Egyptian (and other Arabic speaking) readers at this LINK.

The Mufti also stated that the Supreme Court had reversed the lower court's ruling which allowed the Egyptian Baha'is to indicate their religion on ID Cards and all other official documents, and he stated that "this matter is done with and is now closed." Well...he is wrong again.... The Supreme Court did not reverse the decision, but rather suspended the implementation of the lower court's ruling until the government presents its case in the appeal. The decision has been postponed for the third time on 16 September 2006, and it was tabled for the court's session of 20 November 2006 as was posted in this LINK.

EdoRiver wrote:

Hissam, thanks for these cogent comments.

Since I am on the outside, it is easy for me to try to think kindly of the Mufti. No doubt I would have a different opinion if I were within the threat of his enthusiastic followers.

It is a real shame that the leaders will disavow any intentions of violence while allowing their more ignorant less tolerant followers to express their loyalty to him (or her?) by attacking the innocent.

Two of my students in my adult English class are very surprised that such a tiny number of Baha'is in Egypt can cause such turmoil. They want to know how this is possible?????

The answer to your students is that, if not for the Baha'i Faith's authenticity as a major divinely-ordained world religion, "such turmoil" would not have occurred. The Islamic clergy perceives that its own power and influence are threatened--down to their core. This reaction is not surprising at all.

Egyptian Baha'i wrote:

I had started posting a reply to what I think is an offensive ignorant interview. But then there was more.... I don't know if I'm in for more of this nonsense!

Egyptian Baha'i:
You should not stop responding to the "nonsense" even though it could be a painful exercise....

Response in Arabic can be viewed HERE.

To be continued....

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