September 27, 2015

Four questions and subsequent answers by ‘Abdu’l-Baha – translated by Munírih Khánum

Questions, sent by Professor Cairns, Edinburgh, 24 June 1910:

1. Is it right to speak of the Báb and of Centre as Manifestations, or as Incarnations?
2. Do the Bahá'ís teach the doctrine of reincarnation?
3. Did Bahá'u'lláh claim to supersede the Revelation of Jesus, the Christ?
4. Did Centre claim to be greater than Jesus, the Christ?

Answers of 'Abdu'l-Bahá (the servant of God), Haifa, 20 July 1910:

O daughter of the Kingdom!

Your letter has arrived. Its contents caused spiritual happiness and heartfelt gladness.

I wish to answer in detail, but at present my health is not very strong; I am fatigued, so am obliged to write in short.  When I feel better, I will write at length, for verily, you are occupied with the work of the Kingdom and are serving the world of Humanity, and therefore are worthy of correspondence.

Now I will write shortly.

1st Answer. The Bahá'ís believe that the incarnation of the Word of God, meaning the changing of the nature of Divinity into Humanity and the transformation of the Infinite into the finite, can never be. But they believe that the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh are Manifestations of a Universal Order in the world of humanity. It is clear that the Eternal can never be transient, neither the transient Eternal.

Transformation of nature is impossible. Perfect man, Manifestation, is like a clear mirror in which the Sun of Reality is apparent and evident, reflected in its endless bounties.

2nd Answer. In the teaching of Bahá'u'lláh, the reincarnation of the spirit in successive bodies is not taught.

3rd Answer. Bahá'u'lláh has not abolished the teachings of Christ. He gave a fresh impulse to them and renewed them; explained and interpreted them; expanded and fulfilled them.

4th Answer. Bahá'u'lláh has not claimed himself to be greater than Christ. He gave the following explanation: That the Manifestations of God are the Rising Points of one and the same Sun; i.e., the Sun of Reality is One, but the places of rising are numerous. Thus, Beauty is One, but it is shining upon several mirrors.

Your own answers were good; and now I have myself answered in short.
Upon you be the Glory of the Most Glorious!

(Signed) 'Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas

Translated by Munírih Khánum.
(Star of the West vol. 2, no. 6, June 24, 1911)