This document was originally published in Behai Quarterly magazine, digitally reproduced at these pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Minor changes have been made to the original text to modernize the spelling, capitalization, and word usage. These edits do not significantly alter the meaning of anything that was written. This is part of a longer essay which has been broken into two parts (click here for the second part). A descriptive title has been added to this portion of the originally untitled essay.
NOTHING takes place in this world without a cause, and no matter of importance displays itself without some reason to necessitate it. The physician is generally required when maladies and diseases prevail, and the necessity for a just and noble ruler is more strongly felt when disorder and injustice dominate.
Readers of world news and history know well how far discord and inequity invaded the Near East in the 19th century, especially Persia [modern-day Iran]. Religion, which was established solely for the purpose of the betterment of the nations and of the manners and morality of humankind, was made the greatest cause for the attainment of personal interests and selfish desires, and used as a stepping stone for gaining power and ruling the people. The influence and power of the religious leaders were so great that government itself was but a tool in their hands, and thus fulfilled the orders they would dictate. Therefore no act of the government could be passed and executed without its being first sanctioned by these religious authorities. The poor nation, being powerless and wholly in the hands of these authorities, had no choice but to abide by their wishes and thus be deprived of promotion and success. They were completely overcome and unable to take a single step for their own welfare or even breathe of any reform or advancement of civilization.
Because these corruptions were carried out under a moral pretext, and as the religious authorities had found in and made of religion a means of furthering their worldly interests and desires and of spreading their deviancy, there was no other alternative but to remove these diseases by uplifting the morality and strengthening the spiritual tendencies of the people. It was both an instructive cause and a natural tendency that brought about the renewal. It was a spiritual reality that appeared in corporeal form, and an illumined state of consciousness that worked to reform the defects and remedy the diseases.
As soon as these spiritual matters became publicly known in the country, the religious heads began to raise their voices in opposition as was their habit for ages past. They attacked from all sides and caused numerous difficulties, doing deeds which neither the tongue nor the pen can record or enumerate.
When these injustices became very great, Bahaullah rose with a strong will and a still stronger energy, wisdom and eloquence, and began to educate and instruct the people. He made great advances in bettering both their moral and their material condition and spent his entire time seeking to remove the existing problems and controversies. His beautiful speeches and honorable words speak of his greatness and open the way to righteousness, rectitude and salvation.
For the benefit of all people, I briefly quote hereunder some of his statements, so that readers will realize his motive in bearing all hardships and difficulties that he was exposed to during his time on earth. It is undoubtedly clear that had his motive been to attain greatness and accumulate riches, the means for doing so were not lacking prior to his arising in his mission, and so there would have been no need for bearing all these hardships and difficulties. It is then quite clear that there was a spiritual motive behind his actions, which were the means of showing forth all this power and steadfastness.
There is no doubt that every matter or cause in this plane of existence appears in the context of the necessities of the time and the tendencies of the people. Thus in these days in which the effects of the Great War [World War I] still prevail and are not forgotten, we see that more efforts are being spent on inventing instruments of destruction and means of devastation. I, therefore, consider it a moral obligation to disclose some of the words of Bahaullah that I find most useful and relevant in these trying times.
It is evident that so long as discord reigns among the governments, the public will remain troubled and unable to find rest. Every day brings new problems and at any time political disagreements may be further inflamed.
For this reason Bahaullah invited all the governments to the Greatest Peace, admonishing the reduction of arms and the improvement of the world, so that there should remain no need for the government to keep large armies which would only be a burden. He recommended only the keeping of a force sufficient to guard and protect the people.
He prohibited the increase of all government expenditure to prevent burdening the people with it, and says that the public is the treasury of the government. "Do not burden them (the public) lest they should be ruined, and do not entrust that treasury to the thieves, that it might be saved" – that is, do not appoint dishonest officials to govern the people.
Bahaullah says: "Heal the broken with the hand of justice" – that is, look after the oppressed and deal with them in justice and moderation. "Break the agent of the oppressor with the power of just orders" – that is, punish the powerful oppressor with justice and equity.
Bahaullah also says that governments should know perfectly well the affairs of their officials, and should give the position to those who deserve it and are both capable and honest.
A ruler who governs different colonies must rule each of them with regulations suitable and convenient to the customs and usages of the people, not according to the rules and laws of the mother country. Care must be taken that the appointed governor or ruler be one learned in the ways, habits, and language of the people whom he governs so that he may be able to perform his duties efficiently.
Governments should observe the common interests in justice and equity, making no exceptions because the people are of different nationalities and creeds. Before the law all are equal. Their treatment must be based on equality and justice; none should be given preference to others. This principle must be strictly observed.
The League of Nations [predecessor to the United Nations] is one of the best schemes adopted by the world powers, only on condition that its program should guarantee and protect peace among the nations: not that it should be confined to the special interest of some of the great powers. A special force should also be appointed for the execution of the decisions of the League and should be in a position to inflict punishment on any of the powers exceeding the limits of the program.
Another principle of Bahaullah is the choosing of one of the existing languages or the invention of a new one, as a common means of communication, so that the people will not spend years of this life in studying languages to be able to understand one another. Here this writer wishes to state that to choose one of the existing languages would seem difficult, because no nation would agree to give up its own language and adopt another. Therefore, it would seem advisable to invent a new language. It is evident that the existing languages, not having been specially composed, are not free of difficulties either in pronunciation or grammatical rules. It would therefore seem advisable to elect certain persons from every nationality both of the West and the East, who would jointly invent a new language which would be altogether free from the difficulties observed in the existing languages, and which would also be easy to master. This language would then be adopted as a secondary language in all the schools of the world.
Bahaullah says it is incumbent on all fathers to educate their children, and if the fathers desist from it, those who are in a position to do so should bring them up and educate them, charging the expenses to the fathers; and if these be poor and unable to pay the expenses, then the House of Justice [a democratic assembly in each city or town] should be responsible for the payment, because the House of Justice has been established as a refuge for the poor and the needy.
Bahais must treat the government of any kingdom or country in whose dominion they live with honesty, truth, faithfulness and righteousness.
It is evidently clear to all people of understanding that the more the intellectual powers of a nation are increased, the stronger and greater the government of that nation becomes, because nations are the backbones of the governments.
In the "Book of My Testament" (Kitab-i-Ahdi), his last will, Bahaullah says:
"O saints of God and His loyal ones! Rulers are the manifestations of power and the day-springs of the might and wealth of the True One. Pray for them, for the government of the earth is ordained to these souls; but the hearts He has appointed for Himself. He has forbidden dispute and strife with an absolute prohibition in the Book."
"It is incumbent upon all to aid those souls who are the day-springs of authority and the dawning-places of command, and who are adorned with the ornament of equity and justice."
"O people of the world! I enjoin you to that which is the means of the elevation of your stations."
"Truly I say, the tongue is for mentioning that which is good; pollute it not with evil speech."
"O people of the world! The religion of God is for love and union; make it not the cause of discord and disunion."
"We enjoin you to the service of the nations and to the pacification of the world."
In another holy writing Bahaullah says: "O people of Baha! Associate with all the people of the world with love and spirituality. If you have a word or a jewel of which others are deprived, say it with the tongue of love and tenderness. If it is accepted and the effect produced, the object is attained; otherwise leave them to themselves and pray on their behalf and be not harsh to them. The tongue of tenderness attracts the hearts and is food for the soul."
Bahaullah also says: "Be a good example among all beings, and a book of admonition which they long to copy. Say: Let your word be one word and your thought one thought. Let your mornings be better than your evenings and your tomorrows better than your yesterdays. The glory of human beings is in their services and perfection, and not in decoration, wealth or money. Sanctify your speech from falsity and lust, and purify your deeds from doubts and hypocrisy. Squander not the achievements of your precious lives on selfish desires, and confine not your efforts for your personal benefit. Spend when you gain, and be patient when you lose. Truly there is ease after every hardship, and clarity after every disturbance. Beware lest you sow the weeds of contention among your fellow beings and the thorn of doubt in good and pure hearts. You have been created for love, and not for hatred and strife. The honor is not in loving yourselves, but in loving humankind; and the glory is not to one who loves his native land, but to one who loves the world. Let justice be your army, and your weapon reason. Be characterized with forgiveness and charity, and with that which gives pleasure to the hearts of the angels."