Friday, December 14, 2018

Those Schools of Learning

We all know the story of Mulla Husayn, and how he went in search of the Promised One after the passing of his teacher, Siyyid Kazim. But there are some things about his story that often surprise me. For example, there is that line in the Kitab-i-Iqan, "But for him, God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor ascended the throne of eternal glory."

Wait. What?

Except for Mulla Husayn? God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy? God would not have ascended the throne of eternal glory?

After realizing what I was implied when I read that line, I began to pay a lot more attention to the story of this great hero of the Faith.

So what exactly happened?

Well, to begin, he was an incredible student, wise, tactful, knowledgeable, as well as firm, loyal, diligent and a whole whack of other virtues, too. He went off, at Siyyid Kazim's request, to answer the questions of some mullas who had reservations about his teachings. Mulla Husayn was able to satisfy them, and when he returned, he discovered that his revered teacher has passed away.

After realizing that his fellow students were not heading off to search for the Promised One, as Siyyid Kazim hads urged them, he decided to set the example for them all. He knew the criteria by which they could recognize the Him, but had also written a treatise outlining the more difficult teachings of Siyyid Kazim and Shaykh Ahmad, by which he could test Him, just to make sure.

You see, Mulla Husayn was very smart, and extremely learned. I know that I often forget this when I think of the epic battles he fought in Mazindarin at the site of the Shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi. But first and foremost, he was a scholar.

And so, before heading off on his great and historic journey, his epic search for the Promised One, he collected his treatise by which he would test anyone making so great a claim.

As you no doubt know, he presented this work to the Bab during that first meeting, and the Bab rebuked him for it. "It is for God to test His servants, not for His servants to judge Him in accordance with their deficient standards."

Now this is where I find myself pausing and thinking about how it applies to my own life.

There is a story about this treatise that caught my attention, and how Mulla Husayn felt about it.

He was walking with a friend of his, Haji Mu'min-i Khurasani. They had gone to school together as children, and Haji Mu'min was taught the faith by Mulla Husayn. They were walking and happened to pass a religious school like the one they had attended as children, and Mulla Husayn said, "Never from this school has come learning, this house of ignorance is fit for burning."

Haji Mu'min asked him, "Why should we complain about these schools, when they have produced a man like you?"

"No, my friend," Mulla Husayn interrupted, "if it were not for the education I received in these schools, I would not have argued with my Lord."

In these schools, he seems to be saying, and much like many of the schools today, the knowledge is passed on in conjunction with cultivating the ego. Students are often taught to be proud of their learning, to stand tall in their "ivory towers". But when searching for the Promised One, when striving to learn about God and the mysteries of creation, humility is required, not proud learning.

The true miracle to me of Mulla Husayn's recognition of the Bab is not that he found Him, but that he was able to cast aside his own ego in order to do so.

This, also, is the main requisite that Baha'u'llah talks about in the Kitab-i-Iqan, that detachment from all that we know. it is not that we should forget what we know, but just that we shouldn't be too attached to our understanding of it.

This, perhaps, might be a reason why "God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy". Mulla Husayn was so learned, and yet was still able to cast aside his own ego. He was so filled with knowledge, and was still able to see through it all and recognize the light of his Lord.

If the whole purpose of creation is to lead us to God, then Mulla Husayn singlehandedly justified it. And if one as scholarly as he can do it, then what is getting in our way?

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