Issues Related to the Study of the Bahá'í Faith


Issues Related to the Study of the Bahá'í Faith

Extracts from letters written on behalf of
the Universal House of Justice

A compilation prepared by the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada and
published by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 1999


The letters in this booklet were written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice over the past few years to believers who, conscious of the high importance Bahá’u’lláh attaches to the pursuit of knowledge and the use of reason, had raised various questions regarding the scholarly study of the Faith. Most of the inquirers whose letters elicited the responses published here were academics, concerned to understand more deeply the relationship between the truths of Revelation and the demands of science for rigorous and detached examination of documentary and other evidence.

Among the several subjects discussed is the need for a scholarly paradigm and methodologies capable of coming to grips with spiritual, moral, and cultural phenomena whose influences on the historical process are becoming increasingly appreciated in scientific discourse. Attention is also given to the implications for Bahá’í studies of the development and spread of the new information technologies anticipated by Shoghi Effendi more than sixty years ago. Particularly instructive are passages in one of the letters that discuss the formation of personal conscience and the moral responsibility of a scholar to serve the cause of truth.

Bahá’í scholars are reminded, too, of the need to be conscious of the culturally determined basis of certain features of the present-day academic milieu, and are urged to avoid entangling scholarship with unacknowledged ideological agendas that undermine its credibility. In the absence of such restraints, it is pointed out, students of Bahá’u’lláh’s Teachings may be tempted to approach His Writings in isolation from the System which He designed for their implementation and which He made integral to His Message.

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