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Introduction to Reform Bahai Faith, A Talk Presented to the Troy Interfaith Group
YouTube, 26 minutes


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I am ever anticipating joyous news from America, hoping that all the newspapers and journals might write of the Bahais in the following terms: “These people are distinguished in all qualities; they have pure intentions; they are truthful to all humanity; they are trustworthy; they exercise kindness toward all mankind; and with heart and soul and life they are engaged in service; they depend upon God; they are severed from the attachments of this world; albeit they are all engaged in some profession or work; they serve real civilization; in reality they are civilized people; they fear nothing whatever; night and day their thoughtful attention is devoted to philanthropic deeds; they wish no harm to anyone; they do not annoy anybody; they put forth efforts in general philanthropy; their greatest and highest desire is that bias may be removed from among the nations and sects of the world; that all mankind may be united with each other; that all wars and battles may be abolished from among the nations and powers of the world; that the standard of universal peace or the Most Great Peace shall be raised; that estrangement may cease entirely; that no religious fanaticism, racial or patriotic bias shall exist, for all are the creatures of God, and all are the signs of the Power of God.


In short, we hope that the beloved of God may raise the standard of the solidarity of mankind in the center of the world; that all nations will unite and agree, gather together under the Blessed Banner attaining to the happiness of the world and the Kingdom.


Through the Protection and Help of the Blessed Perfection, you must conduct and deport yourselves in such a manner that you may stand out among other souls distinguished by a brilliancy like unto the Sun. If anyone of you enters a city he must become the center of attraction because of the Sincerity, Faithfulness, Love, Honesty, Fidelity, Truthfulness and Loving Kindness of his disposition and nature toward all the inhabitants of the world. That the people of the city may all cry out: “This person is unquestionably a Bahai. For his manners, his behavior, his conduct, his morals, his nature and his disposition are of the attributes of the Bahais.” Until you do attain to this Station, you have not fulfilled the Covenant and the Testament of God.


The Blessed Perfection has freed the necks from the bonds and fetters and released all from racial attachments by proclaiming—“Ye are all the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.” Be ye kind to the human world, and be ye compassionate to the race of man. Deal with the strangers as you deal with the friends. Be ye gentle toward the outsiders as you are toward the beloved ones. Know the enemy as the friend, look upon the Satan as upon the Angel, receive the unjust with the utmost love like unto a faithful one, and diffuse far and wide the fragrances of the Musk of the gazelles of Kheta and Khotan to the nostrils of the ravenous wolves.

Become ye a shelter and asylum to the fearful ones. Be ye a cause of tranquility and ease to the souls and hearts of the agitated ones. Impart ye strength to the helpless ones. Become ye a treasury of wealth to the indigent ones. Be ye a remedy and antidote to the afflicted ones; and a physician and nurse to the sick ones. Serve ye for the promotion of Peace and Concord, and establish in this transitory world the foundation of Friendship, Fidelity, Reconciliation and Truthfulness.


O ye friends of God! Be kind to all peoples and nations; have love for all of them; exert yourselves to purify the hearts as much as you can; and bestow abundant effort in rejoicing the souls. Be ye a sprinkling of rain to every meadow and the water of life to every tree. Be ye as fragrant musk to every nostril and a soul-refreshing breeze to every invalid. Be ye a spring to every thirsty one, a wise guide to every one led astray, an affectionate father or mother to every orphan, and in the utmost joy and fragrance, as son or daughter to every one bent with age. Be ye a rich treasure to every indigent one; consider love and union as a delectable paradise, and count annoyance and hostility as the torment of hell-fire. Exert with your soul; seek no rest in body; supplicate and beseech with your heart and search for Divine Assistance and Favor; in order that ye may make this world the Paradise of Abha and this terrestrial globe the Arena of the Supreme Kingdom. If ye make an effort, it is certain that these lights shall shine, and this cloud of mercy shall rain, this soul-nourishing breeze shall waft, and the scent of this most fragrant musk be diffused.

Shine ye like unto the Sun and roar and move like unto the Sea; impart life to mountain and desert like unto clouds; and, similar to the vernal breeze, bestow freshness, grace and elegance to the trees of human temples.


Praise be to God that the divine cause in this Bahai dispensation is one of absolute love and of pure spirituality. It is not of this kingdom the earth, for it is not war and distress, nor the oppression of one people by another. Its army is the love of God, its victory is the ecstacy of the knowledge of God; its battle is that of Truth, the exposition of the Word; its warfare is against selfishness; its patience is its reserve; its entire meekness is its conquering power, and its love for all is a glory forevermore. In a word it is a spirit and it is love.

It is for us to consider how we may educate men that the darkness of ignorance and heedlessness may disappear and that the radiance of the kingdom may encompass the world; that the nations of men may be delivered from selfish ambition and strife, and be revivified by the fragrance of God; that animosity and hatred may be dispersed and wholly disappear, while the attracting power of the love of God so completely unites the hearts of men, that all hearts beat as a single heart; that the arteries of all mankind may pulsate with the love of God; that contention and war may utterly pass away, while peace and reconciliation lift their standard in the midst of the earth and men become enamoured of one another; that the joys of spirituality may prevail over material pleasure; that East and West may delight in one another as lovers, and North and South embrace each other in closest affection; that the visible world be the mirror of the world of the Kingdom; that the image of the Supreme Concourse may be reflected in all gatherings of men; that the earth may be changed into the paradise of the Glorious One, and the Divine Jerusalem embrace the terrestrial globe.


Beware! Beware! of differences! By differences the Temple of God is razed to its very foundation; and by the blowing of the winds of disagreement the Blessed Tree is prevented from producing any fruit. By the intense cold of the diversity of opinions the rose garden of Unity is withered and the fire of the Love of God is extinguished.


The quintessence of Truth is this: We must all become united and harmonized in order to illumine this gloomy world; to abolish the foundations of hostility and animosity from among mankind; to perfume the inhabitants of the universe with the Holy Fragrance of the nature and disposition of the Beauty of Abha; to enlighten the people of the East and West with the light of Guidance; to hoist the tent of the Love of God and suffer each and all to enter under its Protection; to bestow comfort and tranquillity to everyone under the shade of the Divine Tree; to astonish the enemy by the manifestation of the utmost love; to make the ravenous and blood-thirsty wolves to be the gazelles of the meadow of the Love of God; to administer the taste of nonresistance to the tyrant; to teach the long-suffering and resignation of the martyrs to the murderer; to spread the traces of Oneness, to chant the praises and glorifications of the Glorious Lord; to raise the voice of Ya Baha’u’l-Abha to the Supreme Apex and to reach the ears of the inhabitants of the Kingdom with the outcry “Verily the earth is illumined by the Lights of its Lord.” This is Reality! This is Guidance! This is Service! This is the consummation of the perfection of the realm of humanity.


Baha’u’llah made the utmost efforts to educate his people and incite them to morality, the acquisition of the sciences and arts of all countries, kindly dealing with all the nations of the earth, desire for the welfare of all peoples, sociability, concord, obedience, courtesy, instruction of their children, production of what is needful for the human race, and inauguration of true happiness for mankind.


We were made to be happy and not sad; for joy, not for sorrow. Happiness is life; sadness is death; spiritual happiness is eternal life. It is a light that the night does not extinguish; it is an honor that shame does not follow, an existence which is not resolved into annihilation! For happiness, the worlds and contingent beings have been created.


The hearts should be purified and cleansed from every trace of hatred and rancor and enabled to engage in truthfulness, conciliation, uprightness and love toward the world of humanity; so that the East and the West may embrace each other like unto two lovers, enmity and animosity may vanish from the human world, and the Universal Peace be established.


The glory, happiness, honor and peace of man do not consist in personal wealth, but on the contrary, in sublimity of soul, nobility of resolution, extension of education and in the solution of the problem of life.


A man should be a constant source of well-being and contentment, and a ready help to prosperity for multitudes of people.


The sacred qualities of the people of Faith are justice, judgment, long-suffering, patience, kindness, faithfulness, sincerity, fidelity, love, benevolence, zeal, the protection of others, and humanity.


Knowledge and wisdom, purity and faithfulness and freedom of the soul, have not been and are not judged by outward appearance and dress.


Carnal desire is like a fire which has consumed a hundred thousand edifices built up by thoughtful sages; and even the sea of their sciences and arts has not been able to put out this blazing conflagration.


There is this condition that the central aims of morals should be wisdom and knowledge, and its controlling idea should be true moderation.


Discover for yourselves the reality of things, and strive to assimilate the methods by which the means of life, of well-being, of noble mindedness and glory are attained among the nations and people of the world.


The other characteristics of progress are, the fear of God, the love of God in the love of mankind in general, long suffering, steadfastness, truth, compassion, generosity, bravery, boldness, perseverance, activity, purity, cheerfulness, modesty, zeal, resolution, high-mindedness, the cherishing of righteousness and wisdom, intellect, sobriety, true piety, and, above all, the fear of God within the heart.


There is urgent need of widespread thought and study; and much wisdom and discrimination are required. Alas! my heart swells within me and is full of grief, because it cannot see that the people are devoting their care and energy to what today is worthy of both.


Even as avoiding and shunning the company of people and being harsh with them are the sure means of filling them with fear, so are love, kindliness, humility and gentleness the truest method of binding people’s souls and attracting their hearts.


The first thing to be considered in every art before studying it is to what benefit comes from that art, and what fruit and result can be obtained. If a universal profit accrues to the majority of mankind from useful sciences surely a man should exert himself to study them with his whole soul. If the sole result of his study is to consist in useless reasonings, following after the imaginations of others, and becoming a center of quarrel and dispute out of which no one can derive any advantage—what is the sense of it, why should a man spend his life in empty discussion and argument?


He who remaineth idle and indifferent, and continueth in his egoism, indulging constantly his carnal appetites, descendeth to the lowest abyss of degradation and ignorance. Lower is he than the most dangerous of savage beasts. For it is written: “These indeed are worse than brutes; and meaner than cattle in the sight of God.”


Exalt your ambition on high, and make your purposes excelling! How long will ye endure in sloth? How long in negligence? You can find nothing to be gained by idleness, except despair in this world and the next, and you can gain nothing except degradation and subjection by indulging in ignorance and superstition, and listening to the words of the thoughtless.


Therefore must we gird up the vesture of ambition round the loins of enthusiasm, and earnestly strive to seize the just causes of comfort, peace, happiness, knowledge, culture, art, honor, glory, for the benefit of all.


All are servants of the One God—and God reigns over all and has pleasure in all alike. All men are of one family, the crown of humanity rests on the head of each man. In the eyes of the Creator all are equal. He is kind to all, He does not favor this nation or that nation, all are his creatures. If this is so, why should we divide one race from another, creating superstitions, differences between one people and another?


Absolute equality amongst men; this would be impossible. There is needed some organization which will bring about an order in this disorder. Absolute equality is a mere dream, and impracticable. If absolute equality existed the whole order of the world would be destroyed. In mankind there is always a difference in degree. Since Creation men have never been the same. Some have superior intelligence, others are more ordinary and some are devoid of intellect. How can there ever exist equality between those who are clever and those who are not? Humanity is like an army. An army must have a general, captains and soldiers, each with their appointed duties, it cannot consist of generals only, or captains, or soldiers only; there must be degrees in the organization.


If women were educated with the same advantages as men, their capacity is the same and the result would be the same; in fact women have a superior disposition to men, they are more receptive, more sensitive, their intuition is more intense. The only reason of their present backwardness in some directions is because they have not had the same educational advantages as men.

If a mother is well educated, her children will also be well taught. If the mother is wise, the children will be wise; if the mother is religious, the children will also be religious. If the mother is a good woman, then the children will also be good. The future generation depends then on the mothers of today. Is not this a vital position of responsibility for women?

Surely God does not wish such an important instrument as woman to be less perfect than she is able to become! Divine Justice demands that men and women should have equal rights, there is no difference between them, neither sex is superior to the other in the Sight of God.


The world is like the body of man—it has become sick, feeble and infirm. Its eye devoid of sight, its ear become destitute of hearing and its faculties of sense are entirely dissolved. The friends of God must become wise physicians and care for and heal this sick person, in accord with the Divine Teachings, in order that it may perchance gain health, find eternal healing and that its lost powers may be restored; and that the person of the world may find such health, freshness and purity that it will appear in the utmost beauty and charm.


Wise men are as guiding lamps to the people. They are the stars of felicity in the horizon of tribes and nations; they are the Salsabil of life for the souls dead in ignorance and folly; and for those who wander and thirst in the wilderness of want they are a fresh spring of cooling water. They, indeed, have the truths of God’s glorious Books, and are a living proof of the Unity of the Divine Spirit; to the diseased body of the world, they are skillful physicians, and are a true antidote to the poisoned soul of mankind. They are as an impregnable fortress protecting the world of humanity, and a sure refuge for those disturbed and disquieted by the forces of darkness and ignorance.


Those great ministers who placed God’s will before their own have been burning lamps of science among men of learning; they employ their wisdom for the general good of their countrymen. They prove themselves worthy examples of honest and virtuous endeavour, and with small hope of reward give their lives to the increase of public good. In their wisdom they deliver just ordinances to the people, setting the palm of peace among the nations; thus they attain the highest pinnacle of the mountain of glory and honor. Likewise the learned and famous Ministers, the repository of sound doctrine, and the wielders of the strong handle of piety and of the fear of God, place their trust in Him, and hold fast to the garment of salvation; and the mirror of their thoughts is adorned with the signs of sublime realities, and reflect the sun of universal knowledge. So they are diligently engaged, both night and day, in acquiring useful sciences and teaching and educating their chosen pupils.


Friends of God, set forth the example of Justice! Justice is a Universal Quality. From the highest to the lowest, Justice should be sacred; from sovereign to the merchant, the Minister of State to the artisan, all must be just. Be just, respect the rights of each man, “do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” A workman who commits an injustice is as much to blame as a tyrant. Each one of us can choose between justice and injustice.

I hope you will be just in your relations with others, that you will never harm your fellows, that you will respect the rights of all men, and above all, consider the rights of others before your own.


The Universal Principles which are the foundation of the Religion of God are laid down, but the making of specific laws which are subdivisions and ramifications is apportioned to the House of Justice. The wisdom of this is that this world never moves for a long period in one form. The House of Justice will make laws applicable to the exigencies and requirements of the time. Its members will not form institutions according to their own opinion and thought. The Most Great House of Justice enacts laws and statutes by the power of inspiration and confirmation of the Holy Spirit and is under the protection of God.


There are two great Banners which overshadow the crown of every sovereign; the first is that of Wisdom, the second that of Justice, which iron mountains cannot resist and which the “Wall of Alexander” will be powerless to stand against. With perfect ease will they penetrate into the states, the pillars of the world.


How noble and excellent is man, if he only attains to that state for which he was designed. And how mean and contemptible, if he close his eyes to the public weal, and spend his precious capacities on personal and selfish ends. The greatest happiness lies in the happiness of others.


There can be no true satisfaction or contentment apart from the general prosperity.


We ask what deeds in the world could be greater than working in the public interests? Can any higher career be imagined than this, that a man should devote himself to the cause of the education, progress, glory and prosperity of the servants of God? No, in God’s name! It is the greatest pious deeds that the blessed souls should take hold of them that are powerless by the hands, and deliver them from ignorance, degradation and poverty, and filled with sincere purpose for the sake of God, should gird up the loins of their ambition in the service of all people, forgetting their own worldly advantage and striving for the common good. As it is written: “And prefer others over thyself, even though there be poverty amongst them; the best of men are those who do good to their fellows, and the worst are those who do harm to them.”


Blessed is the man who forgets his own self-interest, like the Beloved Ones of the Threshold of God, and throws the ball of resolution onto the race ground of the common interest! Thus by tbe divine bounty and heavenly assistance, he will cause the glorious nation again to attain the Zenith of its former Grandeur, and these desolate regions to become refreshed by new life! So that, as the Nature-renewing Spring, he will give to the trees of Human souls the Holy blessings of spiritual leaves, flowers and fruits!


The differences in languages cause disunion between nations. There must be one universal auxiliary language. The diversity of Faiths is also a cause of separation. The true foundations of all faiths must be established, the outer differences abolished. There must be a Oneness of Faith. To end all these differences is a very hard task.


It is God’s will that the differences between nations should disappear. Those who help the cause of Unity, are doing God’s work. Unity is the Divine Bounty of this brilliant century. Praise be to God there are many Societies and many meetings held for Unity. Hatred is not so much the cause of separation now as it used to be; the cause of disunion now is mostly prejudice.


When one family is well united, great results are obtained. If this circle of unity be widened so as to include and control the interests of an entire village to the extent that all the members of its population are fully united and in perfect accord, the results will be proportionately greater; the fruits thereof will be accordingly.

Now widen the circle again! Let a city be united and the results will be still greater. Widen the circle yet more and have the people of a country united; then, indeed, important results shall be forthcoming. And if a Continent is fully united and will unite all the other Continents, then is the time when the greatest result shall be obtained.

Now consider, if Spiritual Unity be accomplished, what results will be forthcoming! If souls who are sons of the Kingdom be united, great shall be the results. Then the Divine Confirmations will become fully established, and their hearts and spirits will attain a remarkable illumination.


The existent world needs a uniting power to connect nations. There are various uniting powers in the world. One is patriotism, as in America, where people from different countries have united and made a nation. Another means of union is war, as when two nations unite to make war upon a third. A third uniting power is self-benefit, as is seen in trade and commerce. A fourth means of union is that furnished by ideals, different nations or different peoples having one aim or intention unite. All these uniting powers are ineffective and perishable; the only uniting power which can connect all hearts and last forever is faith in God and love for him. This is the only enduring power, the one that never perishes.


It is plain and manifest that the surest means towards the well-being and prosperity of men, and towards the highest object of civilization, the liberty of the citizen, are love and friendship and the most intimate union between all individuals of the human race. Nothing in the world can be imagined or rendered easy without union and agreement; and the true divine religion is the most perfect cause of friendship and union in the world.


Today in the world of existence there is no more important and greater cause than this Peace Movement, for it is conducive to the promotion of happiness in the commonwealth of humanity and is the cause of tranquility of all the nations and countries and the prosperity of the individuals of the human world. What cause is greater than this? It is evident that it has the utmost importance, nay, rather, it will be the cause of the illumination of the East and the West and the reason for the manifestation of the Countenance and the Face of God in the world of humanity and the appearance of infinite affections.


The matter of international peace was instituted by His Highness, Baha’u’llah, sixty years ago in Persia in the year 1851, A. D. From that time innumerable epistles and tablets were spread first in Persia and then in other parts of the world, until about fifty years ago He clearly stated this matter of universal peace in the Book of Aqdas and has commanded all the Bahais to serve faithfully with heart and soul in this great cause, give up their possessions and wealth for it and sacrifice their lives in case of necessity. He has taught them to spread the unity of nations and religions and proclaim in all the regions of the world the oneness of the kingdom of humanity.


About fifty years ago in the Book of Aqdas, Baha’u’llah commanded the people to establish the Universal Peace and summoned all the nations to the Divine Banquet of International Arbitration so that the questions of boundaries, of national honor and property and of vital interests between nations might be decided by an arbitral court of justice; and that no nation dare to refuse to abide their decisions. If any quarrel arise between two nations it must be adjudicated by this international court and be arbitrated and decided upon like the judgement rendered by the judge between two individuals. If at any time any nation dares to break such a treaty all the other nations must arise to put down this rebellion.


How many thousands of men there are, who, instead of devoting themselves to the useful arts of peace, are daily employing their keenness and industry to the invention of new deadly instruments of war, which are to be the means of shedding the blood of their fellow-creatures with greater facility and profusion! Every day some such new and deadly weapon is being invented and, as the old ones cannot compete with the new, the European governments are constantly being obliged to abandon the older fashioned armaments and to make ready new ones.


Yea, the true civilization will raise its banner in the center of the world, when some noble kings of high ambitions, the bright Suns of the world of humanitarian enthusiasm, shall, for the good and happiness of all the human race, step forth with firm resolution and keen strength of mind and hold a conference on the question of universal peace; when keeping fast hold of the means of enforcing their views they shall establish a union of the states of the world, and conclude a definite treaty and strict alliance between them upon conditions not to be evaded. When the whole human race had been consulted through their representatives and invited to corroborate this treaty, which verily would be accounted sacred by all the peoples of the earth, it would be the duty of the united powers of the world to see that this great treaty should be strengthened and should endure.


In such a universal treaty the limits of the borders and boundaries of every state should be fixed, and the customs and laws of every government; all the agreements and the affairs of state and the arrangements between the various governments should be propounded and settled in due form; the size of the armaments for each government should likewise be definitely agreed upon, because if in the case of any state there were to be an increase in the preparation for war, it would be a cause of alarm to other states. At any rate the basis of this powerful alliance should be so fixed that, if one of the states afterwards broke any of the articles of it, the rest of the nations of the world would rise up and destroy it. Yea, the whole human race would band its forces together to exterminate it.


If so great a remedy should be applied to the sick body of the world, it would certainly be the means of continually and permanently healing its illness by the inculcation of universal moderation. Reflect that, under such conditions of life, no government or kingdom would need to prepare and accumulate war materials, or would need to pay heed to the invention of new weapons of offense for the vexation and hurt of mankind. On the contrary, they would only require a few soldiers, as a means of assuring the safety of the state and punishing the wicked and rebellious and preventing the growth of sedition. Not more than these few would be needed.


In the first place, therefore, the servants of God—that is to say, all the inhabitants of a state—would be freed from bearing the burden of the tremendous expense of an army; in the second, the many persons who now devote their lives to the invention of fresh instruments of war would no longer waste their time upon such work, which but encourages ferocity and bloodthirstiness, and is repugnant to the universal ideal of humanity—on the contrary, they would then employ their natural gifts in the cause of the general well-being and would contribute towards the peace and salvation mankind. All the rulers of the world will then be settled on peaceful thrones amid the glory of a perfect civilization, and all the nations and peoples will rest in the cradle of peace and comfort.


Some persons who are ignorant of the world of true humanity and its high ambitions for the general good, reckon such a glorious condition of life to be very difficult, nay rather impossible to compass. But it is not so. Far from it. For by the grace of God, and by the testimony of the Beloved, those near the threshold of the Creator, and by the incomparably high ambitions of the souls that are perfect, and the thoughts and opinions of the wisest men of age, there never has been and is not now anything improbable and impossible in existence. What are required are the most resolved determination and the most ardent enthusiasm. How many things which in ancient times were regarded as impossibilities, of such a kind that the intellect could hardly conceive them, we now perceive to have become quite simple and easy! Why then should this great and important matter of universal peace, which is verily the sun amongst the lights of civilization, the cause of honor, freedom and salvation for all, be considered as something improbable of realization?


It is evident that the honor and greatness of man have not arisen through bloodthirstiness, the destruction of cities and kingdoms, the ruining and murdering of armies aud peoples. On the contrary the cause of high-mindedness and prosperity is based upon the cherishing of justice and the sympathy of one’s fellow-citizens, from the highest to the lowest, upon building up the kingdom, cities and villages, the suburbs and the country, and upon the freedom and quiet of the servants of God in laying down the foundations of the principles of progress and in the extension of the common weal, the increase of wealth and general prosperity.


Yea, the expansion of the world and the subduing thereof is praised; yea, even war is sometimes the great foundation of peace, and destroying is the cause of rebuilding. If, for example, a great sovereign should wage war against a threatening foe, or for the unification of the whole body of people and divided kingdom he may urge the steed of resolution into the race course of bravery and courage; in short, this war may be essentially attuned to the melodies of peace; and then verily this fury is kindness itself and this opposition is the essence of justice itself and this war is the source of reconciliation. Today, the true duty of a powerful king is to establish a universal peace; for verily it signifies the freedom of all the people of the world.


Some are too rich, some are too poor, some have millions and some have nothing. An organization is necessary to control this state of affairs. It is necessary to limit riches and it is necessary to limit poverty. Either extreme is wrong. There should be a medium state. If it is right for a capitalist to possess a great fortune, then it is also just that a laborer should have means of existence. If poverty is allowed to reach a condition of starvation it proves that there is a tyranny. Men must see that this does not happen in any case. There must be special laws. The rich must give of their plenty. If they have more than they need they must think of those who are in want.


The government of a country should make laws which conform to the Divine Law. The Law of God exacts that there should be neither excessive wealth nor excessive poverty.


Interference with the religion and faith in every country causes manifest detriment, while justice and equal dealing towards all peoples on the face of the earth are the means whereby progress is effected.


The conscience of man is sacred and to be respected; and liberty thereof produces widening of ideas, amendments of morals, improvement of conduct, disclosure of the secrets of creation, and manifestation of the hidden verities of the contingent world.


Religion is the basis of the happiness of the world of humanity. Merciful attributes are the best adornments for man. Science holds the next position to Religion. Science is conducive to the happiness of the world of humanity next in degree to Religion. If a nation be well qualified with education and yet dispossessed of good morals, it will not attain happiness. If that same nation be dispossessed of education, but possessed of moral training, it will be capable of accomplishing philanthropic deeds. When Religion and Science go hand in hand, then will it be light upon light.


Two Things are most necessary to the political realm:

I. The Legislative Power
II. The Executive

The center of the executive power is the government, and the legislative power lies in the hands of thoughtful and wise men. On the other hand, if these strong pillars and firm foundations are not complete and comprehensive, how can it be supposed that there will be safety and salvation for the nation? Thus it is of the utmost importance to establish an assembly of learned men, who, being proficient in the different sciences and capable of dealing with all the present and future requirements will settle the questions in accordance with forbearance and firmness.


The characteristic of progress and self-perfecting consists in the observance of justice and righteousness.


Another characteristic of progress consists in the earnest and sincere development of public education, in the teaching of all the useful sciences and in encouraging the people to adopt the modern inventions, in extending the spheres of the arts and commerce, and endeavoring to induce them to adopt the methods by which the country may be enriched.


Yea, verily, wealth and riches are worthy of praise if they be justly partitioned amongst the nation, but if some few be possessed of great riches, and many be reduced to poverty, then is the rich man’s gold deprived of all its worth. But if great wealth be employed in the propagation of science, in the establishment of schools and colleges, in the nurture of the arts, in the education of orphans and the care of the needy, in brief, for the public benefit, then shall its possessor be accounted great, both in the sight of God and man.


Riches are earned by personal effort with Divine assistance, in various trades, agriculture and the arts, and, rightly administered, are justly deserving of praise, forasmuch as if a wise and discerning man acquire them, they become a ready means of benefit to the state.


It is most clear and manifest that national affairs will never revolve around their proper axis until the whole people have received instruction, and public thought has been directed to a single end.


The most important of all the matters in question, and that with which it is most specially necessary to deal effectively, is the promotion of education.


No freedom or salvation could be imagined in the case of any nation which had not progressed in this greatest and most important point; just as the greatest cause of degradation and decadency of every nation is bigotry and ignorance.


If necessary, make this even compulsory, for not until the veins and tendons of the nation stir with life, will any study and adoption of improvements be of any avail, because the nation is unto the body, zeal and resolution are like unto the soul, so that the soulless body cannot move.


Certainly, it were possible to gather together the vigorous intellects and the far-seeing talents of the most eminent men in the country, as well as the perseverance and enthusiasm of the most prominent statesmen and the persuasive strength of the most intelligent and competent persons, who have knowledge of the great laws governing political affairs; and if with united endeavor and steadfastness they were to consider and discuss both the highest general principles and the smallest details; then perhaps, as the result of fruitful and righteous deliberation, there might be a general improvement in some of the national concerns. But the counsellors would, in most instances, be obliged to learn from other countries, because, during several centuries, millions of people lived and died, before the elements of modern progress came into existence.


It is as clear as noonday that it is lawful to acquire knowledge and the art of right government from foreign nations, so the public attention may be directed to these important questions and that these methods of reform may be made publicly known, and that, in a short period, by God’s help, the prudent nation may become chief amongst peoples.


No one must wonder at these statements, for the chief, nay, the universal purpose of establishing by great laws the principles and foundations of all kinds of civilization, is the happiness of human beings; and human happiness lies in being near to the “Threshold of the Almighty God,” and in the well-being of all persons, whether of high or low station. And the perfecting of the morals of humanity is the chief means towards those ends. The outward trappings of civilization, without inward moral advancement, may be likened unto confused dreams which cannot be interpreted; and sensual enjoyment, apart from spiritual perfection, is like unto the mirage which he that is athirst believes to be water. For, the fulfilling of the will and pleasure of God, and the advancement of the peace and well-being of the people cannot be perfectly achieved by external civilization alone.


A man begins with a little selfish view of Good limited to himself; after a time, he learns more wisdom and his view of Good enlarges to his own household. Then, with more wisdom comes the realization that Good must include his family, no matter how large. Again more wisdom, and his family becomes his village, his village his city, and in turn, his city his country. But this is not enough; as his wisdom grows, his country becomes his continent, and his continent, the world; his family has become mankind. It is the duty of the Press to teach this wisdom to mankind, for it is the wisdom of God. It is the work of a true Press to teach this wisdom of God.


Those newspapers which strive to speak only that which is truth, which hold the mirror up to truth, are like the sun, they light the world everywhere with truth and their work is imperishable. Those who play for their own little selfish ends give no true light to the world and perish of their own futility. How were people to know the truth if it was veiled from them in their journals?


Firstly: The elected members must be God-fearing, high-minded and followers of the law.

Secondly: They should have an accurate knowledge of the Divine Commandments, of the most important fundamental matters and of the rules of the loosening and binding of domestic affairs and foreign relations; they should possess a knowledge of the science and arts, necessary to civilization, and finally be contented with the income derived from their personal property.


But if, on the contrary, the members are mean, ignorant, having no knowledge of political economy, wanting in ambition, lacking in zeal, foolish, slothful, and seeking their personal or private advantages, then no good can possibly result from Assemblies so formed. Whereas, in former times, a poor man had to give a gratuity to one individual in order to obtain his rights, he might now be obliged to satisfy the demands of the entire body.


It is clearly shown that establishment of such assemblies will lead to justice and piety. Of this there can be no doubt. But what can bring the purposes of the Ministers and elected members to light? If they be men of sincere intention, good results and unexpected improvements should certainly follow, as a natural consequence; but if, on the other hand, they are unworthy of their trust, evil results must ensue.


It seems to me, right, that election of temporary members of the assemblies of the kingdom should depend upon the choice and satisfaction of the public, for members elected by the people are pledged to carry out their will, and to follow out their instructions.


The ministers, and even the lowest officers of state, must be completely purified from all suspicion, and must assume the garment of chastity, and of pure life. And the improved condition we so earnestly desire will not have been attained until the regulation of public and private manners reach such a degree of perfection that it becomes impossible for any man to swerve one hair’s breadth from the rigbt path, even should he endeavor to do so; so that all government may be administered according to the laws of equity and justice, and that the responsible ministers find it impossible to swerve to the right or to the left, and of necessity pursue the way of righteousness.


The ways and means of producing happiness and good are capable of gross abuse; and depend upon the opinion, capability, piety, truthfulness, benevolence and the extent of zeal of the governed and their rulers.


All partiality and perversion of justice by bribery, for personal liking or hatred, must be abolished, and both sides should be heard without favor; neither should the wicked be justified, nor the innocent condemned.


The hidden treasures of kings cannot be compared with a drop of the water of science; not with the smallest cup of their learning; and the heaped-up talents of gold and silver cannot be equal to the solution of the least abstruse of their problems.


They will not seek wealth or self-advancement. Those kings and rulers whose fame for just government and greatness filled the world did not occupy themselves alone with their personal ambition and the acquirement of riches, but accounted the public weal and the increase of the inhabitants of their countries and the general treasury as their greatest care. Their glory was not bought with gold or silver, but was purchased by the soundness of their principles and the nobility of their aspirations. Such are those rulers who are benevolent and wise, whose dignity and real happiness lie in the well being of the public, whose ambition consists in diligently searching after such things as will justify them and their wealth and will bring happiness and peace upon the people.


The learned men consider the pleasures of nations as the playthings of children, and account riches and worldly pomp the fit reward of the mean and ignorant. Like the birds, they are content with a few grains for their sustenance, but the melody of their wisdom and their knowledge will excite the astonishment of the intelligent and discerning among the sages of the world.


The brightness of life hangs on Religion; and the progress, renown and happiness of people consist in keeping the commandments of God’s Holy Books. To one who considers life as a whole, it is manifest that in this world, regarded both materially and spiritually, Religion embodies the chief, infrangible foundation of things, and the highest, most righteous and impregnable principles attainable in creation; it embodies the whole of the ideal and formal perfections, and it is the controller of the civilization and the prosperity of all mankind.


Is religion the real fundamental principle of humanity and civilization? or is it—as Voltaire and such as he have thought it to be—the destroyer of the essentials of the success, peace and well-being of mankind?


At the bottom of religion is sincerity; to be more explicit, the religious man must be free from all personal hatred and should exert himself for the good of the community. Only by the agency of true religion is it possible for men to close their eyes to their own personal advantages and to sacrifice their own personal benefit for the general well-being. For self-love is inherent in the disposition of man, and it is impossible for him to neglect his own casual temporal advantages unless he has the hope of a great proportionate reward in the next world.


In brief, every benefit to mankind is obtained by the graces of the Divine Religion, because it leads the truly religious souls to sincere purposes, high ambitions, spotless chastity and honor, kindliness and mercy, fidelity, to promise, freedom of rights and liberality; justice to all classes and conditions of men, manliness, generosity, courage, resolute endeavor and striving for the good of all the servants of God. Furthermore, it induces the various pleasing customs of humanity which are the bright candle of civilization.


Can it be said that the principles of the Divine Religion are opposed to the giving of encouragement and stimulation for the study of useful sciences and the spreading of general education, a knowledge of the practical advantages of natural philosophy, the extension of the domain of handicrafts and the increase of the materials of commerce and national wealth? Or are the disposition of the military forces in the cities, the planning of suburbs and villages, the repairing of roads and bridges and the construction of railways in order to facilitate the means of transport and the traveling of the inhabitants of a country—are these opposed and repugnant to the Threshold of Unity? Or are the discovering of abandoned mines which are a great source of wealth to a state and nation, and the founding of works and factories, which are a means of well-being, peace, and riches for a whole nation, the encouragement of the originating of new handicrafts, and the advancement of the progress of home trade—are these adverse to the commandments of the Lord of Creation?

From The Universal Principles of the Reform Bahai Faith. 2008. Baha'u'llah & Abdul-Baha. Available from the Reform Bahai Press.