Susan S.

Maneck
From SourceWatch
Susan Stiles Maneck, is a member of the Baha'i Faith who holds a masters degree in Oriental Studies and a
PhD in history. She is currently an associate professor of history at ac!son State "ni#ersity in $ississippi.
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She is a faculty member of the Wilmette (nstitute, and is a ma)or critic of uan *ole. %&'
+http,--www.fglaysher.com-bahaicensorship-$anec!&.htm. %/' +http,--www.fglaysher.com-bahaicensorship
-$anec!0.htm.
(n &112, $anec! published a paper entitled 3Wisdom and Di ssimulation in the Baha'i Fai th: The Use and
meaning of Hi kmat in the Baha'i wri tings3, which e4amined 3the use of the term hikmat +lit. wisdom. within the
Bah5'6 community o#er time especially as it referred to certain sur#i#al strategies de#eloped in situations of
danger, persecution, or insecurity within a hostile en#ironment3, along with the 3compromises these strategies
entailed and the conse7uences these had for the religion's future de#elopment.3
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(n her une /881 paper, 9Accusations Against Baha'is Wi thin the Context of slami c Heresiogra!h":, presented
at the *;S<"= +*enter for Studies on <ew =eligions. conference in "tah, $anec!, cited a self>published,
un>peer>re#iewed wor! written by a then recent high school graduate named ?dib $asumian in relation to
certain 9conspiracy theories circulating regarding the Baha@i Faith:, stating that 9?s if to pro#e that refuting
such charges is child's play, an eighteen year old boy, ?dib $asumian, has written a boo! doing so entitled
Debun!ing the $yths +Aulu,/881.. "nfortunately such refutations cannot be made in the (ranian press where
these charges are usually repeated.:
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Contents
& Discussion of ?cademic $ethodologies with the "ni#ersal Couse of ustice
/ =esources and articles
/.& =elated Sourcewatch articles
/./ =eferences
Discussion of Academic Methodologies with the Universal House of
Justice
(n &11D and &110, $s $anec! was engaged in a number of publicly a#ailable discussions with the "ni#ersal
Couse of ustice regarding matters of institutional and doctrinal influence upon academic affairs.
3Aetter Ewo, from $anec! to the "ni#ersal Couse of ustice
Eo, Bahai World *entre
Sub)ect, ?ddendum to Sept. /& letter
Date, $on, &D <o# &11D
Dear "ni#ersal Couse of ustice,
( am writing this letter as an addendum to the letter ( sent you dated September /&, &11D. Ehere was a
7uestion ( still had in regards to your message to me dated /8 uly &11D which ( did not as! because at
the time ( could not decide how best to articulate it in a befitting manner. Fou will recall that ( had
suggested that many of the difficulties had arisen because many Baha'i historians and $iddle ;ast
specialists had e4ceeded the proper bounds of their calling as scholars by interfering in administrati#e
affairs with their constant criticisms of the institutions. Fou responded by stating that there were far
Susan S. $anec! > SourceWatch http,--www.sourcewatch.org-inde4.php-SusanGS.G$anec!
& of B B8-8D-/8&H I,BD P$
greater problems in#ol#ed, referring to 3the beha#ior of a #ery small group of Baha'is who . . .
aggressi#ely sought to promote their misconceptions of the Eeachings among their fellow belie#ers.3 Fou
further refer to attempts 3to alter the essential nature of Baha'u'llah's message.3
While ( recogniJe that in some cases certain Baha'is ha#e done precisely that, these statements were
troubling to me inasmuch as they raised 7uestions in regards to the limits of tolerance within the Baha'i
Faith. Specifically, as you are no doubt aware, Dr. ... has been #igorously insisting that the in#estigation
which was launched by the (nternational Eeaching *enter against himself and others was moti#ated by a
desire to impose a rigid doctrinal conformity on Baha'i scholars which would be inconsistent with our
ability to function as academics. ( had argued, to the contrary, that the in#estigation was largely launched
in reaction to what was seen as an attac! on the (nstitutions themsel#es. For this reason your letter of /8
uly created much confusion for me because it seemed to #indicate Dr. ...'s perception of these e#ents.
$y 7uestion is, to what e4tent does the Couse see these problems as issues of doctrinal heresy which
must therefore be suppressed and to what e4tent are the (nstitutions empowered to do thisK ( am aware,
for instance, of the #erse in the Will and Eestament which reads, 3Eo none is gi#en the right to put forth
his own opinion or e4press his particular con#iction. ?ll must see! guidance and turn unto the *entre of
the *ause and the Couse of ustice.3 ( note, howe#er that the term for opinion here is rai which is one of
the principles +usul. of (slamic )urisprudence. Li#en the )uridical language of this entire section of the
Will and Eestament ( would assume that M?bdu'l>Baha was spea!ing here largely of opinions in regard to
matters of Baha'i law and practice rather than doctrine.
(f the "ni#ersal Couse of ustice does regard the imposition of orthodo4y on the Baha'i community as
within the pur#iew of the authority of the (nstitutions ( wonder if you could e4plain to me how this fits
in with the tolerance which M?bdu'l>Baha calls for elsewhere within the Writings. ( am thin!ing for
instance of the passage in Nitab>( Bada'i al>?thar &,/1H where M?bdu'l>Baha insists that there must be no
interference in beliefs or conscience. ( also note that in another Eablet M?bdu'l>Baha states that so long as
courtesy is maintained that in the Faith no one can rule o#er a persons conscience. Ce goes on to say that
such freedom does not e4tend to matters of di#ine law. +$a'idih>yi ?smani I,&D>&0.. ( also ha#e in mind
Baha'u'llah's Eablet to Bour)erdi where e#en o#er the #ital issue of the station of the $anifestation,
Baha'u'llah refuses to allow the imposition of rigid dogma.
Ehan! you for your careful consideration of the issues ( raise and for your continued prayers at the
Sacred Shrines.
Obediently yours,
Susan $anec!3
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Further correspondence and the reply gi#en by "ni#ersal Couse of ustice can be found in at Official
*orrespondence>$ethdologies +http,--methodologies.susanmanec!.com-.
Resources and articles
Susan $anec! Website +http,--www.susanmanec!.com-.
Susan $anec!'s Blog +http,--bahai>islam.blogspot.com.
*orrespondence with the "ni#ersal Couse of ustice +http,--letters.susanmanec!.com-., accessed anuary
B, /8&8.
*orrespondence with the "ni#ersal Couse of ustice regarding access to primary source material from
the BahaOi World *enter +http,--bahai>library.com-uh)-access.sources.html., accessed anuary B, /8&8.
Related Sourcewatch articles
Baha'i Faith
Wilmette (nstitute
Susan S. $anec! > SourceWatch http,--www.sourcewatch.org-inde4.php-SusanGS.G$anec!
/ of B B8-8D-/8&H I,BD P$
Baha@i (nternet ?gency
?dib $asumian
References
P Susan S. $anec! +http,--www.abahaiperspecti#e.com-., ? Bahai Perspecti#e, accessed February /,
/881.
&.
P Wisdom and Dissimulation in the Baha'i Faith, Ehe "se and meaning of Ci!mat in the Baha'i writings
+http,--bahaistudies.net-susanmanec!-wisdomGandGdissimulation.html., accessed, February B, /881.
/.
P ?ccusations ?gainst Baha'is Within the *onte4t of (slamic Ceresiography +http,--www.cesnur.org
-/881-slcGmanec!.htm., Susan $anec! +ac!son State "ni#ersity., ? paper presented at Ehe /881
*;S<"= *onference, Salt Aa!e *ity, "tah, une &&>&B, /881. ?ccessed, uly /8, /881.
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P Official *orrespondence with the "ni#ersal Couse of ustice
+http,--methodologies.susanmanec!.com-., accessed anuary B, /8&8.
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Susan S. $anec! > SourceWatch http,--www.sourcewatch.org-inde4.php-SusanGS.G$anec!
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