Excommunication in the Baha’i Community and Shoghi Effendi Practices

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Introduction

Excommunication is a kind of punishment that removes a person from the participation and privileges of belonging to a group, community, tribe or sects. It is practiced by some Christian groups, such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Oriental Orthodox Church, as well as by some other faiths, such as the Bahá’í Faith, the Amish, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Excommunication can be enforced for various grounds, such as questioning, deviation, abandonment, separation, disrespect, insubordination, immorality, or disgrace.

 

The consequences and controversies of excommunication in different groups

The effects and procedures of excommunication vary depending on the group that applies it. Some allow for the chance of remorse and restoration, while others regard exclusion to be lasting and irrevocable.

In some sects and tribes, excommunication can also mean social isolation, avoidance, or excommunication from the community. This can have severe consequences for the excluded person, such as loss of family, friends, support, and identity.

Excommunication can also affect the person’s legal rights, property, inheritance, or citizenship in some cases.

Excommunication can be seen as a way of imposing uniformity, or prevent from diminishing membership among the people of a sect or tribe.

 

Effect of excommunication on personal and spiritual life

Excommunication is a serious measure that affects the spiritual life of a person in different ways, depending on the faith, attitude, and circumstances of his community. Some possible effects are:

  1. Emotional and feelings

Excommunication can cause a person to feel isolated, rejected, or abandoned by his community. It can be lead to depression and despair.

  1. An attack to the family identity

Excommunicated people often lose support and kindness of their family. While family is the main source of kindness and love in each person life. In fact, he faces inevitably the lack of personality. Because he missed the strongest supporters; family!

  1. An experience of crisis

Excommunication leads person to separate from all things that is called human rights: Economic, social and family transactions and even talking to his family is forbidden. In one word, excommunication is an experience of death in this world. You’d better to say gradual death…

 

Excommunication in the Baha’i Faith

The excommunicated person excluded from the communion of the Baha’is, and the rights of membership.

However, the Baha’is believe that they have no clergy or a sacramental system; excommunication occurs in the Bahá’í Faith for more than one sanctuary! So, the authority of Baha’i organization is measurable during excommunication procedure.

In the first step, the Baha’i organization applies an administrative expulsion, which means a person should be deprived of their voting rights and membership in the Baha’i community.

The second and terrible step is spiritual excommunication. If a Baha’i ask questions about the contradictions in  the Baha’i Doctrines, leaders’ statements or disagreement with the Baha’i orders, he will miss not only Baha’i membership but also his family and their support for life. In one word, he experiences death in this world!

 

The role of Shoghi Effendi to organize excommunication

The story of excommunication became harmful as Shoghi Effendi started issuing serious and violent orders among the Baha’is.

The first victims of excommunication in the Baha’i Faith were Bahá’u’lláh’s family. Abdul-Baha excommunicated all his brothers and sisters except one (Bahiye Khanum), after facing challenges to his leadership with his brother Mohammad Ali Effendi. Shoghi Effendi even excommunicated his parents and also did not attend their funeral either.

Now, the Baha’i organization (UHJ) excommunicates not only the Baha’is but also the educated and famous people like: Juan Cole, Denis Mac Eoin, Karen Bacquet, Francesco Ficicchia ,and…

Here there are some examples of orders for excommunication of the Baha’is by Shoghi Effendi:

 

The Baha’i  friends

A question was asked about the friends that, as a result of their ignorance and neglect, had been excluded from administrative affairs about whether they should be invited to public assemblies or not? He (Shoghi) said, “inviting them is not permitted.” And it was asked about those that had been excluded from the community, whether greeting and speaking with them was permitted? He replied, “if they have been spiritually excommunicated, speaking with them is not permitted in any way.[1]

 

Ṣādiq, the son of Āqā Muḥammad Javād Āshchī

Regarding the issue of Ṣādiq, the son of Āqā Muḥammad Javād Āshchī, he ordered to write that “this ill-mannered and innately lowly person recently traveled to Palestine against the orders of this servant and entered the Holy Land. A telegraph regarding his excommunication and his banishment from the [Baha’i] community has been sent to that assembly. Clearly tell and warn his father that communication with him is not permitted by any means and disobeying and opposing [this order] will have severe results. [2]

 

Nuṣrat-Allāh Bāhir

In regards to Rūḥī Ghanī, who traveled from Mashhad189 to America without informing the assembly, he ordered me to write, “this individual, because of his dissent and deviation, is also excommunicated from the community and because he contacted the son of Dihqān in England and both traveled to America . . .” He also stated, “write that the spiritual excommunication of Nuṣrat-Allāh Bāhir—after I consulted his mother—is necessary and obligatory.[3]

 

Fuad Afnan (Shoghi Rabbani’s first cousin)

In 1938 Fuad Afnan, the younger brother of Ruhi Afnan, decided to continue his studies at the Imperial College in London, graduated from the American University of Beirut. Before leaving, he asked Ziaiyya Khanum (Shoghi Effendi’s mother) whether the Guardian would have any objections. Her answer was “why would he have any objection to his continuing his studies in the UK?”

While in London, Fuad was an active member of the Baha’i community and attended the weekly meetings.

He had volunteered to become an Air Raid Warden when the war broke out in 1939. In 1941, during one of those air raids he was hit by a bomb and he was killed.

Hassan Balyuzi, a Hand of the Cause, sent a cable to the Guardian informing him of the tragedy.

The Guardian sent a messenger to Fuad’s mother, Touba Khanum, Shoghi Effendi’s aunt, to convey the news. (What an asshole Shoghi was! He could not have gone to his own aunt, himself, to tell her this terrible news? (

Shoghi Effendi posthumously excommunicated Fuad Afnan, even though he had been a loyal Baha’i in his entire life. [4]

 

Conclusion

Excommunication is a severe form of punishment that cuts off a person from the Baha’i community and his own family. The Baha’i organization todays uses excommunication frequently and disregards any kind of human rights. It begins by administratively expelling them and continues by ending all ties within a family. It is clear that this terrible and damaging penalty originated from the decisions of Baha’i leaders, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi effendi, and nowadays UHJ (Beyt-o-Al- Adl) applies it as well.

 

References

  1. Shoghi Effendi, Tauqī`āt-i mubārak-i (1945–1952) (Persian copy), (n.p. [probably Tehran]: Mu’assisiyi Millī Maṭbū`āt Amrī, 125 B.), pp. 94–95
  2. Shoghi Effendi, Tauqī`āt-i mubārak-i (1945–1952) (Persian copy), p. 41–42
  3. Shoghi Effendi, Tauqī`āt-i mubārak-i (1945–1952) (Persian copy), p. 78–79
  4. Michael Zargarov‎, Facebook Page of Unitarian Baha’is and Seekers, September 3, 2019

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