I have always admired ‘Abdu’l Baha
for his appreciation of the symbolic nature of religious language. A good example is his exegesis of the biblical story of Adam and Eve-
Question.—What is the truth of the story of Adam, and His eating of the fruit of the tree?
…We must reflect a little: if the literal meaning of this story were attributed to a wise man, certainly all would logically deny that this arrangement, this invention, could have emanated from an intelligent being. Therefore, this story of Adam and Eve who ate from the tree, and their expulsion from Paradise, must be thought of simply as a symbol. It contains divine mysteries and universal meanings, and it is capable of marvelous explanations. Only those who are initiated into mysteries, and those who are near the Court of the All-Powerful, are aware of these secrets. Hence these verses of the Bible have numerous meanings.
We will explain one of them, and we will say: Adam signifies the heavenly spirit of Adam, and Eve His human soul. For in some passages in the Holy Books where women are mentioned, they represent the soul of man. The tree of good and evil signifies the human world; for the spiritual and divine world is purely good and absolutely luminous, but in the human world light and darkness, good and evil, exist as opposite conditions.
The meaning of the serpent is attachment to the human world. This attachment of the spirit to the human world led the soul and spirit of Adam from the world of freedom to the world of bondage and caused Him to turn from the Kingdom of Unity to the human world. When the soul and spirit of Adam entered the human world, He came out from the paradise of freedom and fell into the world of bondage. From the height of purity and absolute goodness, He entered into the world of good and evil.
Significantly Eve is not the temptress of the literalist story and is rather a symbol of the human soul. Of course as ‘Abdu’l Baha says
these verses of the Bible have numerous meanings.
In what has become a cruel farce the show trial of seven innocent Baha’is has been rescheduled yet again to Sunday 18th October.
“It is unclear whether the trial will take place on Sunday, or whether it will be postponed again,” said Diane Ala’i, the Baha’i International Community representative to the United Nations in Geneva. “If the trial does not go ahead, the seven Baha’is should be released on bail, as Iranian law requires,” she said. “They are completely innocent of the accusations against them and should not have been imprisoned in the first place.”
I am saddened to learn that the family of imprisoned Baha’i Sahba Rezvani is being harassed by vandals.
The automobile of a Baha’i resident of Semnan was vandalized multiple times by unknown assailants. According to the Baha’i Committee of Human Rights Activists in Iran, in a continuation of persecutions and harassment of our Baha’i countrymen, particularly those residing in Semnan, at 10 PM on August 27, an individual or a group of assailants riding on a motorcycle broke the windows of Nezam Fanaian’s car and then dispersed. During recent months, several times Mr. Fanaian’s vehicle has been attacked by unknown persons. Despite repeated appeals to the security and police agencies in Semnan by his family and other Baha’is about the consistent attacks and harassment of the Baha’is of that region, no action has been taken to prevent these episodes. It should be noted that Mr. Fanaian’s wife is Sahba Rezvani, who has been imprisoned since last December, and is presently completing her 3-year jail term in Tehran’s Evin Prison.