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


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O ye people of the world! The virtue of this Most Great Manifestation is that We have effaced from the Book whatever was the cause of difference, corruption and discord, and recorded therein that which leads to Unity, Harmony and Accord.


It has been our aim to uplift men through exalted Words unto the Supreme Horizon and prepare them to hearken unto that which conduces to the sanctifying and purifying of the people of the world from the strife and discord resulting from differences in religions or sects.

O friends! In this day the Door of Heaven is opened by the key of the Godly Name, the Ocean of Generosity is manifested and is rolling before your faces, and the Sun of Providence is shining and gleaming; do not be exclusive, nor destroy your most precious time through the speech of this or that person. Gird up the loins of endeavor and do your best in training the people of the world. Do not imagine that the Cause of God is a cause of opposition, hatred and wrath. The Tongue of Greatness hath said that which is revealed from the Heaven of Will, in this Supreme Manifestation, is to unite the people with love and friendship toward all. The people of Baha who have drunk of the pure Wine of Reality must associate with all the world with the perfect spirit of joy and fragrance, and remind them of that which is for the benefit of all. This is the commandment of the Wronged One to His saints and sincere ones.

O people of the earth! Make not the religion of God a cause for variance among you. Verily, of a truth, it was revealed for the purpose of unifying the whole world. Blessed is he who loves the world simply for the sake of the Face of his Generous Lord.

We did not come except for the purpose of uniting whosoever is upon the earth and bringing them into perfect harmony and agreement.


With perfect compassion and mercy have we guided and directed the people of the world to that whereby their souls shall be profited. I declare by the Sun of Truth which hath shone forth from the highest horizons of the world that the people of Baha had not and have not any aim save the prosperity and reformation of the world and the purifying of the nations. With all men they have been in sincerity and charity.


Man should know his own self, and know those things which lead to loftiness or to baseness, to shame or to honor, to affluence or to poverty.


In this Day the sun of arts and crafts is manifest from the horizon of the heaven of the Occident, and the river of skill is flowing from the sea of that region. One must speak with justice and recognize the worth of benefits. By the Life of God, the word Justice is shining and luminous like unto the sun.


Knowledge is like unto wings for the being of man, and is as a ladder for ascending. To acquire knowledge is incumbent on all, but of those sciences which may profit the people of the earth, and not such sciences as begin in mere words and end in mere words. The possessors of sciences and arts have a great right among the people of the world. Whereunto testifies the Mother of Divine Utterance in the Day of Return. Joy unto those who hear! Indeed the real treasury of man is his knowledge. Knowledge is the means of honor, prosperity, joy, gladness, happiness and exultation.


It is made incumbent on every one of you to engage in some one occupation, such as arts, trades, and the like. We made this—your occupation—identical with the worship of God, the True One. Ref1ect, O people, upon the mercy of God upon His favors, then thank Him in mornings and evenings.


Waste not your time in idleness and slothfulness, but occupy yourself with that whereby you will profit yourselves and others.


The most despised of men before God is he who sits and begs. Cling unto the rope of means, relying upon God, the Causer of Causes. Every soul who occupies himself in an art or trade—this will be accounted an act of worship before God. Verily this is from no other than His great and abundant favor!


Blessed are they who hold fast to the Rope of Compassion and Kindness and are detached from
animosity and hatred.


The language of Love is the lodestone of hearts and the food of the soul; it stands in the relation of ideas to words and is an horizon for the shining of the Sun of Wisdom and Knowledge.


This Oppressed One exhorts the people of the world to Forbearance and Benevolence. These are as two lights for the darkness of the world and as two teachers to lead nations to knowledge. Blessed are those who attain thereto, and woe unto those who are heedless.


Good character is, verily, the best mantle for men on the part of God; by this God adorns the temples of His friends. By My Life the light of good character surpasses the light of the sun and its effulgence. He who attains thereto is accounted as the essence of men. Upon this the honor and glory of the world are based and are dependent. Good character is the means of guiding men to the Right Path and the Message.


Trustworthiness is the door of tranquility to all in the world, and the sign of glory from the presence of the Merciful One. Whosoever attains thereto has attained to treasuries of wealth and affluence. Trustworthiness is the greatest door to the security and tranquility of mankind. The stability of every affair always depends on it, and the worlds of honor, glory and affluence are illuminated by its light.


O friends of God, verily the Pen of Sincerity enjoineth on you the greatest faithfulness. By the Life of God, its light is more evident than the light of the sun! In its light and its brightness and its radiance every light is eclipsed. We desire of God that He will not withhold from His cities and lands the radiant effulgence of the sun of Faithfulness.


Knowledge is one of the greatest benefits of God. To acquire knowledge is incumbent on all. These visible arts and present implements are from the results of His Knowledge and Wisdom, which have been revealed from the Supreme Pen. In this Day the mysteries of this earth unfolded and have become visible before the eyes.


O people of God! I exhort you to Reverence. Reverence is, in the primary station, the lord of all virtues. Blessed is he who is illumined with the light of Reverence, and is adorned with the mantle of Uprightness! He who is endowed with Reverence is endowed with a great station.


Verily man becomes lofty through his trustworthiness, chastity, judgment and virtues, and falleth through treachery, folly and hypocrisy.


Man must show forth fruits. A fruitless man, in the words of His Holiness the Spirit (i. e., Christ), is like unto a fruitless tree, and a fruitless tree is fit for fire.


O Son of Man! If thou lookest toward Mercy, regard not that which benefits thee, and hold to that which will benefit mankind: If thou lookest toward Justice, choose thou for others what thou choosest for thyself. Verily, through mercy man is elevated to the heaven of power; and again, pride degrades him to the lowest station of humiliation and abasement.


Charity is beloved and acceptable before God, and is accounted the chief among all good deeds. Consider, and then remember that which the Merciful One has revealed in the Qur’an: “But they prefer them the poor before themselves, although there be indigence among them. He who is preserved from the covetousness of his own soul, such shall surely prosper.” Indeed, this blessed Word is, in this connection, a sun among words: Blessed is he who prefers his brother before himself; such an one is of the people of Baha!


O people of Baha! Ye are dawning-places of the Love and day-springs of the Favor of God. Defile not the tongues with cursing and execrating anyone and guard your eyes from that which is not worthy. Show forth that which ye possess, if it is accepted, the aim is attained; if not, interference is not allowable.


Fulfill the promise thou givest, and in all matters be just and equitable. Be silent among multitudes of men, and upright in giving decisions. Be humble toward men, be a lamp in darkness, a comforter in troubles, a sea to the thirsty, a refuge to the afflicted, a helper, assistant and succor to the oppressed.


In actions and deeds be virtuous and pious. Be a home to the stranger, a healing to the sick, a stronghold to him who asks for help, a sight to the blind, a path to him who goeth astray. Be thou the beauty of the face of truth, an adornment to the temple of faithfulness, a throne to the house of character, a spirit to the body of the world, a banner to the hosts of justice and a light to the horizon of goodness.

Be thou a dew to the fertile and rich ground, an ark to the sea of science, a star in the heaven of generosity, a diadem to the head of wisdom, a white spot on the forehead of time, and a fruit of the tree of humbleness.

Be patient in misfortunes and contented in all aspects. In truth be firm and unwavering; be quick in doing good deeds; be assiduous toward God; be a veiler of people’s faults; be an avoider of lust. Be a runner after the truth; a cloud of bounty to the servants of God; be kindly to thy debtors; be a forgiver to the transgressors; be a fulfiller of the Covenant and steadfast in the Cause.


Everyone who desireth victory must first subdue the city of his own heart with the sword of spiritual truth and of the Word, and must protect it from remembering aught besides God; afterwards let him turn his regards towards the cities of others’ hearts. This is what is meant by “victory!”


It is forbidden to drink that which will destroy the mind. Every rational being should do that which befitteth a man, not that which is practiced by the careless and heedless.


Well is it with him who is adorned with the decoration of manners and morals; verily he is of those who help their Lord with clear perspicuous action.


Gambling and the use of opium are strictly prohibited. Beware not to practice that which will enfeeble your temples and harm your bodies.


Among the people are those who glory in a desire for liberty. Know that the animal is the symbol of liberty and manifestation thereof, hence it behooveth man to put himself under laws which will protect him against the ignorance of himself, and the injury of the deceitful. Liberty is confined to compliance with the Commandments of God. If ye adopt that which He hath revealed for you from the Heaven of Inspiration, ye will find yourselves in perfect and pure freedom. The liberty which profits you is that which is confined to your servitude to God, the Truth. He who tastes its sweetness will never exchange it for the possessions of the realms of the heavens and earths.


Consort with the people of religions with joy and fragrance. The followers of Sincerity and Faithfulness must consort with all the people of the world with joy and fragrance; for association is always conducive to union and harmony, and union and harmony are the cause of the order of the world and the life of nations.


The Fire of Love will assemble all the different people in one court; but the fire of animosity is the cause of disunion and conflict.


It is sanctioned that all the nations of the world consort with each other with joy and fragrance. Consort ye, O people, with the people of all religions with joy and fragrance. We have said—and our saying is truth—Consort with all the people of religions with joy and fragrance. Through this Utterance whatever was the cause of foreignness, discord and disunion has been removed.


All must adhere to the means which is conducive to Love and Unity.


O people of the world, ye are all the fruit of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Walk with perfect charity, concord, affection and agreement. I declare by the Sun of Truth, the light of agreement shall brighten and illumine all the horizons.


You must show forth that which will be conducive to the welfare and tranquility of the helpless ones of the world. Gird up the loins of effort; perchance the slaves may be emancipated from bondage and find freedom.


It is revealed in one of the Tablets: “O people of God! Be not occupied with yourselves. Be intent on the betterment of the world and the training of nations.” The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and excellent deeds and well-approved and agreeable conduct. The helper of the Cause is Deeds and its assistant is Good Character.


It behooveth the people of Baha to assist the Lord through their utterance and to preach unto the world through their deeds and good morals. The effect of deeds is greater than the effect of words.


In former ages it has been said: “To love one’s native land is Faith.” But the tongue of Grandeur hath said in the Day of this Manifestation: “Glory is not his who loves his native land; but glory is his who loves his kind.” By these exalted Words He taught the birds of souls a new flight and effaced restriction and blind imitation from the Book.


The most splendid fruit of the Tree of Knowledge is this exalted Word: Ye are all fruits of one tree and leaves of one branch.


Be generous when in affluence and grateful when thou art poor. Be faithful to the rights of others. Let thy face be bright and open and be a treasure to the poor and needy. Be an admonisher to the rich, and an answerer to those who call on thee.


O children of dust, let the rich learn the midnight sighing of the poor, lest negligence destroy them and they be deprived of their portion of the tree of wealth. O ye who are wealthy on earth, the poor among ye are my trust, therefore guard my trust, and be not wholly occupied with your own ease.


O ye rich people! When ye see a poor man do not grow proud and haughty and despise him, but think from what ye were created. Do ye imagine that ye will be profited by what ye have? It will be possessed by some one in your stead, and ye shall return to the dust without finding any one to succor or help. Of what use is a life that is ruled by death, or a duration which vanisheth, or a grace that changeth?


In this Day, it is incumbent and obligatory upon all to adhere to that which is conducive to the progress and elevation of the just government and people.


This Oppressed One hath loved and loves the philosophers, that is—those whose philosophy hath not been mere words, but who have produced lasting results and fruits in the world. To respect these blessed souls is incumbent on all. Blessed are those who practice.


O ye wise men among nations! Turn your eyes from foreignness and gaze unto Oneness, and hold fast unto the means which conduce to the tranquility and security of the people of the whole world. This span-wide world is but one land and one locality. Abandon that glory which is the cause of discord and turn unto that which promotes harmony. To the people of Baha glory is in knowledge, good deeds, good morals and wisdom, not in native land or station. O people of the earth, appreciate the worth of this Heavenly Word; for it is like unto a ship for the sea of Knowledge, and is as the sun to the universe of Perception.


In every country or government where any of this community reside, they must behave toward that with faithfulness, trustfulness and truthfulness.


O people of the Earth! A solitary life and severe discipline do not meet God’s approval. The possessors of perception and knowledge should look unto the means which are conducive to joy and fragrance. Such practices come forth and proceed from the loins of superstition and the womb of fancy, and are not worthy of the people of knowledge. Some of the people of the past and of later times dwelt in mountain and caves, and others frequented the tombs during the night. Hearken to the advice of this Oppressed One. Abandon that which ye hold, and adhere unto what the Trustworthy Counselor commands. Deprive not yourselves of that which is created for you.


The sinner, when in a state wherein he finds himself free and severed from all else save God, must beg for God’s forgiveness and pardon. At the same time such confession before men leads to one’s humiliation and abasement, and God—Exalted in His Glory!—does not wish for the humiliation of his servants. Verily He is Compassionate and Beneficent.
A sinner must privately, between himself and God, beg for mercy from the Sea of Mercy and ask forgiveness from the Heaven of Beneficence.


The pious practices of the monks and priests among the people of His Holiness the Spirit (Christ)—upon Him is the Peace of God and His Glory!—are remembered before God; but, in this day they must abandon solitude for open places, and engage in that which may profit both themselves and other men. We have conferred permission on them all to engage in matrimony, so that there may appear from them those who may celebrate the praise of God, the Lord of the Seen and Unseen and the Lord of the Lofty Throne.


Gaze toward the horizon of Justice and Equity under all circumstances. This exalted Utterance has been revealed, from the Pen of Abha in the Hidden Words.

“O Son of Spirit!
“The best of all to Me is Justice. Desire thou not to cast it away if thou desirest Me and neglect it not, that thou may’st be faithful to Me, for by it thou wilt attain to see things with thine own eyes and not by the eyes of the creatures and know them by thine own knowledge and not by the knowledge of any in the world. Meditate on this—how thou oughtest to be. Justice is one of My Gifts to thee and one of My Cares over thee, therefore put it before thine eyes continually.”

The possessors of Justice and Equity occupy the highest station and loftiest rank; the lights of Righteousness and Piety radiate and shine from such souls. It is hoped that nations and countries may not be deprived of the lights of these two orbs.

The light of men is Justice; quench it not with the contrary winds of oppression and tyranny. The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among people. In this exalted Word, the sea of God’s wisdom is moving. All the books of the world are not sufficient to contain its interpretation.


God has imposed on every town erection of a House of Justice where men are to assemble according to the number of Baha (if they surpass this number it matters little). They should figure to themselves that they are in God’s presence, and see what is invisible. They should be divine agents in the causal world, the representatives of God for those who are on earth, and defend for love of God the interests of His servants as they would defend their own.

The Members of the House of Justice of God must, night and day, gaze toward that which hath been revealed from the horizon of the Heaven of the Supreme Pen for the training of the servants, for the upbuilding of countries, for the protection of men and for the preservation of human honor.


We exhort the members of the House Justice, and command them to guard and protect the servants, maidservants and children.


The affairs of the people are in charge of the members of the House of Justice. They are the trustees of God among His servants and the sources of command in his countries.


It is decreed that every father must educate his sons and daughters in learning and in writing and also in that which hath been ordained in the Tablet. He who neglects that which hath been commanded in this matter, if he is rich, it is incumbent on the trustees of the House of Justice to recover from him the amount required for the education of the children; otherwise, if the parent is not capable, the matter shall devolve on the House of Justice. Verily We have made the House of Justice an asylum for the poor and needy.

He who educates his son, or any other’s children, it is as though he hath educated one of My children. Upon such an one be Baha, My Providence and My Mercy, which hath embraced all in the world!


Men and women must place a part of what they earn by trade, agriculture, or other business, in charge of a trustworthy person, to be spent in the education and instruction of the children. That deposit must be invested in the education of the children, under the advice of the Trustees or members of the House of Justice.


We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations. That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled—what harm is there in this? Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the “Most Great Peace” shall come. Do not you in Europe need this also? Is not this that which Christ foretold? Yet do we see your kings and rulers lavishing their treasures more freely on means for the destruction of the human race than on that which would conduce to the happiness of mankind. These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family. Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather in this, that he loves his kind.


We ask God that He will help the Kings to be at peace; verily He is able to do what He willeth. O assembly of Kings! Verily we see you increasing your expenditure every year, and placing the burden thereof on your subjects; this is nought but manifest injustice. Fear ye the sighs of the oppressed and his tears, and do not burden your subjects above that which they can bear, neither ruin them to build up your palaces. Choose for them that which ye choose for yourselves; thus do we expound unto you that which will profit you, if ye are of those who enquire.


The Members of the House of Justice must promote the Most Great Peace, in order that the world may be free from onerous expenditures. This matter is obligatory and indispensable; for warfare and conflict are the foundation of trouble and distress.


We have commanded the Most Great Peace, which is the greatest means for the protection of mankind. The rulers of the world must, in one accord, adhere to this Command, which is the main cause for the security and tranquility of the world. We beg of God to assist them in that which is conducive to the peace of the people.


The Third Glad Tidings is the study of various languages. This command hath formerly flowed from the Supreme Pen. Their Majesties, the Kings—may God assist them—or the Counselors of the earth must consult together, and appoint one of the existing languages or a new language, and instruct the children therein, in all the schools of the world; and the same must be done in respect to writing also. In such case the earth will be considered as one.


The Sixth Ishraq is concerning union and harmony among mankind. Through union the regions of the world have been illuminated with the light of the Cause. The greatest means for this end is that the peoples should be familiar with each other’s writing and language.


At this moment the Supreme Pen exhorts the daysprings of power and dawning-places of authority, to wit: kings, rulers, chiefs, princes, learned men of religion and mystics, and commands them to hold fast to Religion. Religion is the greatest instrument for the order of the world and the tranquility of all existent beings. The weakness of the pillars of Religion has encouraged the ignorant and rendered them audacious and arrogant. Truly, I say, whatever lowers the lofty station of religion will increase heedlessness in the wicked, and finally result in anarchy. Hear, O ye who are endowed with sight!


The people of wealth and men of honor and power must have the best possible regard and respect for Religion. Religion is a manifest light and a strong fortress for the protection and tranquility of the people of the world. For the fear of God commands people to do that which is just and forbids them that which is evil. If the lamp of Religion remain concealed, agitation and anarchy would prevail, and the orb of Justice and Equity and the sun of Peace and Tranquility would be withheld from giving light.


The religion of God and the Creed of God hath been revealed and made manifest from the heaven of the Will of the King of Pre-existence for the sake of union and harmony among the people of the world; make it not a means for disagreement and discord.


The First Glad Tidings which is conferred in this Most Great Manifestation on all the people of the world, from the “Mother Book,” is the abolishing of the decree of religious warfare from the Book.


O unitarians, make firm the girdle of endeavor, that perchance religious strife and conflict may be removed from amongst the people of the world and be annulled. For love of God and His servants engage in this great and mighty matter. Religious hatred and rancor is a world-consuming fire, and the quenching thereof most arduous, unless the hand of Divine Might give men deliverance from this unfruitful calamity. Consider a war which happeneth between two states: both sides have foregone wealth and life; how many villages were beheld as though they were not! This precept is in the position of the light in the lamp of utterance.


O people of God!—Exalted in His Glory!—Ask God to guard the sources of power and authority against the evil of egotism and lust and to illumine them with the lights of justice and guidance.


A king whom the pride of authority and independence does not withhold from being just, and whom benefits, opulence, glory, hosts and legions do not deprive of the splendors of the Orb of Equity—such a king shall possess a lofty station and an exalted rank in the Supreme Concourse; it is incumbent on all to assist and love such a blessed being. Blessed is the ruler, who controls the reins of the ego, and overcomes his wrath; who prefers justice to oppression and equity to tyranny!


We ask the manifestation of Power, that is, kings and leaders, to endeavor, perchance discord may vanish and the world be illumined with the light of accord.


The Third Ishraq commands the executing of the penal laws, for this is the primary means for the maintenance of the world. The heaven of Divine Wisdom is illumined and shining with two orbs—Consultation and Kindness. And the tent of the order of the world is hoisted and established on two pillars, Reward and Retribution.


Governments must be acquainted with the conditions or deserts of the officials and must confer upon them dignity and positions in accord with their due measure and merit. To have regard for this matter is obligatory and incumbent on every chief and ruler. Thus, perchance, traitors shall not usurp the place of trustworthy men, or spoilers occupy the seat of guardians.


Complete regard should be had to the matter of agriculture. This matter is in reality endowed with the first station.


The deniers and contradictors hold to four words:

First: Destroying men’s lives.
Second: Burning the books.
Third : Shunning other nations.
Fourth: Exterminating other nations.

Now, by the Grace and Authority of the Word of God, these four great barriers have been demolished. These four manifest decrees have been effaced from the Book, and God hath changed brutal manners into spiritual qualities.


O ye people of the world! The virtue of this Most Great Manifestation is that We have effaced from the Book whatever was the cause of difference, corruption and discord, and recorded therein that which leads to Unity, Harmony and Accord.


Strife and contest were and are seemly in the beasts of prey, but laudable actions are seemly in man.


The pages of swiftly appearing newspapers are indeed the mirror of the world; they display the doings and actions of the different nations; they both illustrate them and cause them to be heard. Newspapers are as a mirror which is endowed with hearing, sight and speech; they are a wonderful phenomenon and a great matter. But it behooveth the writers thereof to be sanctified from the prejudice of egotism and desire and to be adorned with the ornament of Equity and Justice; they must inquire into matters as much as possible in order that they may be informed of the real facts and commit the same to writing.


Proclaim: Verily the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar will be a House built in my name in every country and city. Verily we have called it by that name, were you of those who know.

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