January 17, 2015

An example of why not to read the Word of God with the eye of intellect only

The following story in the life of Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, the outstanding scholar of the Cause and its famous apologist, is one which demonstrates that reading the Word of God with the eye of intellect can lead a man astray.

Mirza Abu’l-Fadl, himself, has recounted the story that soon after he came in contact with the believers, they gave him the Kitáb-i-Íqán to read. He read it with an air of intellectual superiority and was not impressed by it. He even commented that if the Kitáb-i-Íqán was a proof of Bahá'u'lláh's claims, he himself could certainly write a better book.

At that time he was the head of a theological college in Tihran. The following day a prominent woman arrived at the college and approached some students asking them to write an important letter for her. In those days people who were not educated often paid a small sum of money to a learned man to write letters for them. The essential requirements for writing good letters were good composition and fine penmanship.

The students referred her to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl saying that he was an outstanding writer, a master of eloquence and a man unsurpassed in the art of composition. Mirza Abu'l-Fadl took up his pen to write, but found himself unable to compose the first sentence. He tried very hard but was unsuccessful. For several minutes he scribbled in the corner of the page and even drew lines on his own fingernail, until the woman realized that the learned scribe was unable to write. Losing her patience she arose to go and mockingly said to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, 'If you have forgotten how to write a simple letter why don't you say so instead of keeping me here while you scrawl?'

Mirza Abu'l-Fadl says that he was overcome with feelings of shame as a result of this incident, and then suddenly remembered his own comments the night before about his being able to write a better book than the Kitáb-i-Íqán. He had a pure heart and knew that this incident was nothing but a clear answer to his arrogant attitude towards that holy Book.

However, it took Mirza Abu'l-Fadl several years to be convinced of the truth of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. He reached a stage where he accepted the Faith intellectually, but for years his heart was not convinced. The only thing which caused him to recognize the truth of the Cause of God after having struggled for so long was to submit himself and surrender his intellectual gifts to God.

One evening he went into his chamber, and prayed with yearning as tears flowed from his eyes, beseeching God to open the channels of his heart. At the hour of dawn he suddenly found himself possessed of such faith that he felt he could lay down his life in the path of Bahá'u'lláh.

The same person who once had said he could write a better book than the Kitáb-i-Íqán, read this book many times with the eye of faith and found it to be an ocean of knowledge, limitless in scope. Every time he read it he found new pearls of wisdom within it and discovered new mysteries which he had not come across before. 
(Adapted from ‘The Revelation of Baha'u'llah vol. 2’, by Adib Taherzadeh)