My Response to Baha'is
I wrote this article in 1999 in response to the letter of a very esteemed and learned Bahai friend, a retired professor of psychology, whose virtual friendship I truly cherished and from whom I learned a lot.
My esteem friend, as you know I am not very much concerned about who has the truth. Although I consider truth to be absolute but since we humans are relative beings and our understanding is partial, our truth is relative. No one can claim to have the entire truth but rather each one of us holds a piece of it that when placed next to the truth of others forms a bigger picture and that bigger picture is a bigger truth.
I can compare this to pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle, each with its unique color and shape. No two pieces are alike. No piece can reveal the entire picture. Only when all pieces interlock with each other they form the bigger pictures.
In human world, we may think differently and each one of us may have our preferences. That is variety and it is good. We should interact with each other. Just as pieces of the puzzle reveal the big picture when they form their organic unity, we must relate with each other to find the truth. This relationship among humans is understanding, compassion and love.
I have come to conclude that beliefs are of less importance. I value good deeds most. It does not matter to me what religion people profess. It makes no difference whether they have a religion or not. What matters is how they relate with other people and how just and fair they are. Deeds count, beliefs don't.
This is in complete contrast with what Muhammad taught to his followers. He spoke of truth; as if his version was the only right one and allowed his followers, nay indeed he exhorted them, to commit all sorts of crimes to impose that truth. Therefore, murder, assassination, rape, pillage and even genocide became permissible if perpetrated in the name of the truth and advancement of the religion of Allah. This he called Jihad. To him ends justified the means. To this day Muslims are living by that dictum and this explains why the more the believe the more violent and evil they become.
No religion is as despicable as Islam. But all religions, to a certain degree value truth more than good deeds. This I cannot accept. The Baha’i Faith does not accept faith without good deeds. This is admirable. But it also does not accept good deeds without belief. This is regrettable. Baha’u’llah calls this “the twin duties” of each individual. These twin duties are: 1) Recognition of the Manifestation of God. 2) Obeying his mandates.
Assuming that those mandates call humans to do good, (I say “assuming” because in Islam they actually ask us to do evil) why should the good deeds of someone who does not believe in the Manifestation of God not be accepted? This in my opinion is not fair. Do you really believe God would not accept the good deeds of Mother Teresa, Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. because they failed to recognize the manifestation of God of their time, i.e. Baha’u’llah? Of course you don’t. But then, why Baha’u’llah in the Kitab Aqdas says that good deeds without belief will not be accepted?
Reason and Faith
You spoke of harmony between reason and faith. This is of course a beautiful teaching of Baha’u’llah and I am sure many people have embraced the Faith because of it. Let us look at this teaching carefully and see what it really means.
What is faith?
Faith is intense belief.
What is belief?
Belief is acceptance of something without evidence.
Let me explain: There are people who believe in the existence of Bigfoot, a large humanoid species that lives deep insides the forests and has managed to elude from the eyes of man. There is little evidence of the existence of such creature. Still some people believe that it actually exists.
What you say if someone captures a Bigfoot. Then we have hard evidence of the existence of these creatures. Would you then say that you “believe” in Bigfoot? No, because you KNOW that they exist. Do you say that you "believe" in gorillas? You don't have to believe because you know that gorillas exist.
This is the difference between knowing and believing. We believe in things for which we have little evidence. We know things for which we have ample evidence. Faith is intense belief in things for which we have no evidence.
Now let’s go back to the teaching of Baha’u’llah: “harmony between reason and faith.”
Does this make sense? Reason does not accept anything without evidence while faith is acceptance of things without evidence. Isn’t harmony between reason and faith an oxymoron? If something is rational, you don’t need faith to accept it. You don’t say I believe 2+3=5 because it is an undeniable fact.
Mr. Khatami, the president of the Islamic Regime of Iran has coined the phrase mardom saalaari-e dini. (Religious Democracy) It sounds nice. But does it mean anything? Can you have democracy, i.e. rule of people over people and rule of religious law over people at the same time? This is demagogy. Religious Democracy is as much a reality as is a round square. You have either democracy or theocracy, but you can't have both at the same time because they are mutually exclusive.
Harmony of reason and faith falls within the same category. There can’t be any harmony between reason and faith. You either reason or you believe! When you reason you don’t need to believe. And when you accept something through faith you abandon reason. Reason and faith don’t mix just as oil and water don’t.
On Limitation of Reason
Religious people say that reason is fallible and faith will take you where reason can’t. My answer to them is: Yes reason is fallible. It has its limitations and it cannot answer all your questions. But there is no reason to abandon reason. There are questions like telepathy (which some bigoted materialists prefer to deny religiously rather than acknowledge that they don’t know) that reason cannot explain. But is it justifiable to abandon reason and start to believe when we find no reasonable answers?
This is what religionists say. They compare reason to an airplane that cannot soar beyond certain heights and they say faith takes them where reason cannot go. Would they abandon their plane in midair when it fails to take them higher? Isn’t it wiser to stay aboard the reason and never abandon it even when you know it is limited, faulty and imperfect?
Science has its limitations, imagination doesn't. There is nothing wrong with imagination, but can imagination substitute science when the latter proves to be limited? Science and reason are based on hard facts. Imagination and beliefs float on the waves of fantasy.
Airplanes will not take us to the Moon. To go to the Moon we don’t jump off our plain and do without it. We may need another vehicle to go to the Moon, but we still need a vehicle that is solidly built and follows the laws of physics and science. If today our science cannot explain a lot of mysteries of this universe, if our reasoning is imperfect and limited, it does not follow that we should abandon it and start believing in things that defy reason.
Religion as the Instrument of Unity
The cardinal principle of Baha'i Faith is oneness of humankind. This is so important that the entire teachings of Baha’u’llah revolve around this pivotal principle. Baha’u’llah affirms that the main instrument for achieving this oneness is religion.
Is that really true? Evidence shows that the main cause for disunity among mankind is and has been religion. I call upon history to witness on my behalf. More blood has been shed in the name of religion than for any other cause. See how we Iranians are tearing each other apart? It is mainly because of religion. It is not that Muslims can't see the non-Muslims, they no eyes to see each other either for different interpretations that they give to their holy book and how its teachings should be interpreted. This animosity and estrangement exists among the members of all faiths to a varying degree. The insiders are called khodi or ahebba and the outsiders are called aghyar.
There is also a logical explanation why religion has been and will forever be the main cause of strife amongst people. As long as we cling to reason we speak the same language and we understand each other. You agree with me that most conflicts are caused because of lack of communication and are the result of misunderstandings. When we abandon reason and believe without evidence, we part from each other and see each other as aliens.
Since beliefs require no evidence, we are free to believe in whatever our fancies make up. Beliefs can be as diverse as the number of people living on Earth. It's here where we see differences in each other. It's here where we start disliking and even hating each other. Not all religions preach hate. Islam could be an exception. But all religions induce in their believers the sense of self-righteousness, the feeling of “us” vs. them and tacitly invoke condescendence.
Religions do not unite; they divide. Uniting all the people of the world under the banner of one religion as Baha’u’llah suggested is utopia. We have different tastes and understandings. It is impossible to imagine and foolhardy to presume that everyone will eventually accept the same set of doctrines and thus the whole world will be united. This is not going to happen. Baha’i Faith is a great religion for those who like it. Not all people have the same likes and dislikes. No religion can unite us. Each new religion will become yet another excuse that divides mankind and cause contention and disunity. Even if you love all the people, all the people don’t love you. You belong to a religion that they do not approve. Muslims, for example, consider people of all faiths misguided, hated by God and worthy of hellfire. How can you convince them that you are right and they are not when your religion, just like theirs is based on faith and not on reason? Why should anyone leave his irrational faith and embrace another? No one can say which religion is right because religions are based on faith and faith is belief without evidence.
Unity of humanity is possible only after we abandon religions and walk the path of reason. Paths of faiths are innumerable, but the path of reason is one.
Do We Need Religion to Be Good?
The teachings of Baha’u’llah are indeed beautiful. Compare them to the teachings of Islam and you’ll see that there is no comparison.
Baha’u’llah teaches oneness of mankind. In Islam we have fascistic teachings that say, Muslims must be harsh to the unbelievers, but merciful to one another. (Q.48:29
There is equality of the rights between men and women in the Baha’i Faith. In Islam women are properties of men and men are considered to be superior “afzal” to women. They can be even beaten if they disobey their husbands.
The Baha’i Faith teaches independent search of the truth and abandonment of prejudices and superstitions. In Islam people are forced to convert by the sword, by killing, raping and looting the non-Muslims.
There is no need to make further comparisons, it is obvious that the teachings of Baha’u’llah are superior to the hatful and raving teachings of the sick man of Arabia. My question is: would you have still believed if Baha’u’llah’s teachings were as evil as those of Muhammad? Would you have remained a Baha’i if Baha’u’llah had taught that men should beat their wives, that adulterers should be stoned to death or that it is good to kill non Baha’is and rape their wives?
Of course not! You are a noble soul and you would be aghast of such teachings. You are automatically drawn towards the goodness and abhor cruelty and injustice. You have become a Baha'i because in your estimation the teachings of Baha’u’llah are the best.
If that is true, you know what is right and what is wrong intuitively. You know unity is good and disunity is bad. You know equality is good and discrimination is bad. When you try to promote the Baha’i Faith you speak of the good teachings of Baha’u’llah because you know that everyone likes them.
So if you know already what is good and what is bad, why you need someone else to tell you what you already know?
We all know stealing is bad, killing is bad, discrimination is bad, cruelty is bad, honesty is good, kindness is good, equality is good, unity is good and so on and so forth. If we all know these simple truths, why we need a messenger from God to come and tell us what we already know? Has anyone of these so called messengers said anything that people of their time did not know? Just give me one example. You can't because their message, whether good or bad came from themselves and they they were humans just like you and me with no cell phones to connected to God.
You might say; religions unite those who believe in these good teachings and bring unity of purpose. But that is not the case. There is no such unity. Religions do not unite. They are the main instruments of disunity and discord.
The main reason humanity is divided is because we have different beliefs. Since belief means acceptance without evidence, reconciliation of various beliefs is impossible. Why should one abandon his or her irrational belief and accept another that is also based on no evidence? Unity of humanity through a common belief is utopia. Unity through a common faith can never happen as long as those faiths are not supported by reason, evidence, logic and facts.
Baha'is accept Muhammad to be a messenger of God. Is there any evidence to such belief? No! In fact Baha’is often shun the question and avoid any discussion about Muhammad. This is a belief without evidence, which they cannot support. This is just an example. There are more beliefs such as this that are not based on evidence but rather are believed because Baha’u’llah or Abdul’Baha said so. Baha’is do not feel the urge to investigate and find the truth if Baha’u’llah or Abdul’Baha have already expressed their views about something. They rather take the words of the principal figures of their Faith without questioning them. When a question is posed to Baha'is they often refere to what their sacred texts say and if there is a text about that subject they don't question it. There stop their independent investigation. The words of the Manifestation of God are the words of God and fasl’u’khetab (the end of discussion.) Therefore it is not true that Bahais believe in independent investigation of truth. When it comes to matters already discussed by Baha’u’llah all investigations ends. Then again isn’t the same true for Muslims or believers of all faiths. So what is new in the Bahai Faith? The same old beliefs that have kept mankind in the dark for millennia are rehashed in more palatable words.
Should we put our intellect under diet?
You compared the teachings of Baha’u’llah “as a one size, flexible, yet non modifiable, tight garment that is intended to help every person fit”. You also suggested “The person has to expand to grow into it or to ‘go on a diet’ to fit in it.” You added, “I have been doing both all my life. Trying to grow into it while severely dieting to fit into other parts of it. It is a constant struggle. Much of the exertions and self-denials are indeed painful. Yet, the ‘high, that comes with the effort is similar to the one that a marathon runner experiences.”
If by ‘dieting’ you mean self-denial of mundane pleasures for a better good, I understand it. I sit behind my computer and write many hours every day answering dozens of emails trying to help Muslims see the truth about Islam and leave it. I obviously deny myself many pleasures but I do this happily for the love of humanity and my desire to contribute my share to make this world a more peaceful world. Nonetheless, I would have a tough time understanding and accepting to put under diet my reason and intellect. I am ‘on a diet’ of pleasures that most take for granted, in the hope that I can make this world better, but how can I diet my intellect? Who will benefit if I dieted my reason? What good does it make if I am required to accept things that make no sense to me? Why should I believe in things that go against commonsense and my intelligence? Acceptance of Muhammad as a messenger of God is an intellectual challenge.
As far as Islam is concerned I have done a little bit more studies than the average Muslim. I have the undeniable proof that Muhammad was lying and he was not whom he claimed to be. This is as obvious as the Sun. To accept him as a messenger of God dieting my intelligence is not enough, I must kill it. Why would God send the most despicable man who committed the most shameful crimes and expect us to accept him blindly? Isn’t this a cruel joke on us humans?
You kindly called me fair. Of course we all think we are fair and that is what I try to be even though I may be biased and unfair in some instances that I may not be aware of. Now I would like to ask you whether it is fair for a just God to send a fiend and demand us to shut up our intelligence, not to think and just believe without questioning him.
You say you are not an apologist of Islam, but if you tell me that Muhammad was a messenger of God because Baha’u’llah said so I am entitled to ask where is the proof. If you disagree with my evaluation of him I would be glad to prove it to you. But I cannot accept the claim that he was a messenger of God, despite the mountain of evidence piled against him just because Baha’u’llah says so.
I agree with the premise that if messengers of God are inspired, whatever they say is true, but what if they say that day is night and night is day? Do I have to betray my own commonsense a patent absurdity? Isn’t being truthful a proof that a claimant is not an impostor? Why should I accept Muhammad and not Jim Jones, Shoko Asahara or Charles Manson? They all brought messages without evidence and lived despicable lives. How can Baha’is justify the harmony between reason and faith when they avoid such an important question about Muhammad?
You see, I don’t believe that Jesus was a messenger of God. As a matter of fact I believe he could be a mythological figure. Even if the Jesus of Nazareth existed, the Jesus of the New Testament is a myth. However, I don’t find much to condemn him. I can say the same thing about Baha’u’llah or Buddha (who by the way, never said to be a prophet). But accepting Muhammad as a messenger of God is an insult to my intelligence. He was the embodiment of whatever is evil. Hitler was extremely evil. Muhammad was worse. Hitler did not lust after little girls and he did not order raping his victims before massacring them. Muhammad did all that and more. But Muhammad was bereft of any goodness. This man was evil in the true sense of the word. It is the saddest irony that the worst man ever born should be praised as the “Mercy of God” and it is a shame that Bahais who themselves are victims of Muhammad’s evil teachings should believe that nonsense. This lie is so hurtful that perpetuating it is the greatest travesty of justice. How can we lay the foundation of a new civilization based on such a big lie?
Baha’is accept this lie and do not question it because Baha’u’llah told them so. To accept such obvious lie I have to commit the kamikaze of my brain. No amount of intellectual dieting would make me accept such lie.
I can accept the lie and force myself to believe that Buddha was a messenger of God. He was such a good person that I almost want him to be a messenger of God even though he never made that claim. I also don’t mind believing in Jesus and love him because he was such a good man. But calling a rapist, a mass murderer, an assassin, a pedophilic, a bloodthirsty tyrant, a pathological narcissist and a serial liar a messenger of God goes against every fiber of my being. It insults my intelligence. It is a mockery of justice.
To say Islam has ‘ran its course’ is not enough. We are not children. We cannot believe in fairy tales. Truth is what will set us free. Muhammad was not a good man and this is the truth.
What is the Fate of the Bahai Faith?
Baha’is are intelligent people. On average they are more educated than the others. There are more intellectuals among them per capita than any other religious group. In this sense I would say they are very much like the Jews. They are the crème of the crop. This high level of education is a double edge sword. Baha’is, unlike the followers of many religions, are encouraged to think, to investigate the truth and to not accept anything blindly. How can they sweep this much lies about Muhammad beneath the rug and sleep peacefully?
In Islam and other religions there is consistency. Islam is a foolish religion but it also encourages its followers to remain foolish, disdain learning that are not Islamic and stay ignorant. Khomeini closed the universities in Iran when he came to power. The Taliban banned all knowledge that is not Islamic and Umar Ibn Khattab ordered all the books to be burned saying: “If they are against the Quran they must be burned and if they are not, they are redundant.” Therefore Muslims are actually encouraged to remain ignorant. You must know the Sufi saying,”paaye estedlaaliyoon choobin bovad, paaye choobin sakht dar tamkin bovad.” The rationalist’s feet are made of wood. The wooden feet are draggy and no good. The great Imam Ghazali (1058 – 1111) said: “Where the claims of reason come into conflict with revelation, reason must yield to revelation.”
A similar thesis in defense of foolishness is presented by Paul in 1 Cor. 1:20-25 where he argues “the foolishness of God is wiser than (the wisdom of) men”. The statement “Credo quia absurdum” (I believe because it is absurd), often attributed to Tertullian, is based on this passage of Paul. In DCC 5 he said: “The Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd.” Upon this belief in absurdity fideism is founded and it is the position that has been adopted by Muslims. This fideistic attitude allowed the early believers to abandon reason and accept whatever Muhammad did, even his blatant crimes, without questioning him.
In Islam believers are kept in dark; as long as they are ignorant they will believe and as long as they believe they will avoid knowledge that may challenge their faith. In this way Islam has survived successfully for 1400 years. It will survive indefinitely if it manages to keep its followers ignorant. With the advent of the Internet that is no longer possible. Islam is doomed.
However, Baha’is are encouraged to go after science and knowledge. When they do that, they can no longer accept the theories of Abdul Baha about, for example evolution that man has always been man a his evolution had not been part of the evolution of the rest of the species or other teachings when they go against science and reason. Ironically because Bahai Faith encourages learning, it carries the seed of its own destruction.
I hope one day, humanity will abandon all beliefs and free from the burden of faith will find its oneness under the light of reason.
With loving greetings