The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
If the anti-Baha’i Faith is the Nazi ideology of rampant nationalism and racial supremacy; then how do the Baha’is propose to eliminate those terrible scourges of humanity? Good question. Let me see if I can answer it, at least partially, with a story. When Abdu’l-Baha visited Germany and Hungary in 1913, he was 70 years old, and had spent forty of those years in prison. The Persian and then the Ottoman Turkish governments had imprisoned, tortured and exiled his father Baha’u’llah for life; and his family accompanied him in that long and arduous journey. Stripped of all their possessions, without food or belongings or resources, Baha’u’llah’s family suffered terribly for many, many years. Tens of thousands of Baha’is were killed during that period, giving their lives rather than recanting their newly-found Faith. Middle Eastern prisons – horrible, inhumane and cruel, with living conditions that killed most of their prisoners – housed Abdu’l-Baha for decades. So Abdu’l-Baha understood hatred and its offspring, war.
Here’s what he had to say about it when he addressed a large crowd in Budapest, Hungary on that day in 1913:
I hope that we shall all be confirmed to serve the world of humanity, because no service is greater today than promoting the oneness of mankind and international peace, so that people may be freed from the bonds of ancient prejudices and harmful imitations, cleansed of religious, national, racial, political and patriotic prejudices. As long as these prejudices remain, felicity and ease will not be fully revealed in the world of man. At a time when the East was enveloped and thickly beset by the gloom and darkness of such prejudices, Baha’u’llah appeared like the sun upon the horizon. He declared the oneness of the world of humanity. He said that all peoples constitute one mankind, are servants of one God, descended from the same ancestry; they are the flock of one God and He is their real shepherd; He loves His flock and all are dear to Him. While He is kind to all, loves all and feeds and protects all, why should we be unkind, one to the other; why should we engage in warfare? . . .quoted in H.M. Balyuzi’s Abdu’l-Baha – The Centre of the Covenant, p. 384.
In fact, Abdu’l-Baha repeatedly warned the western world about the impending catastrophes of both World Wars. In 1912, during Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to North America, he predicted the outbreak of the first World War in an interview with the Montreal Star newspaper:
The ills from which the world now suffers will multiply; the gloom which envelops it will deepen. The Balkans will remain discontented. Its restlessness will increase. The vanquished powers will continue to agitate. They will resort to every measure that may rekindle the flame of war. Movements, newly born and world-wide in their range, will exert their utmost effort for the advancement of their designs. The Movement of the Left will acquire great importance. Its influence will spread. – Citadel of Faith, p. 36.
Abdu’l-Baha taught that the deep prejudice, nationalism and racism which afflicted the world would inevitably create violent conflict; and he decried and condemned the hypocrisy of world leaders who promised peace and prepared for war:
Peace, Peace, the lips of potentates and peoples unceasingly proclaim, whereas the fire of unquenched hatreds still smolders in their hearts. – The World Order of Baha’u’llah, pp. 29-30.
When World War I – the “war to end all wars” — came to a close, the earth itself seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, and people from every country celebrated. But Abdu’l-Baha warned the world in 1920 that its nations and populations had to overcome their racial and ethnic hatreds — or another, more devastating and destructive world war would erupt:
For in the future another war, fiercer than the last, will assuredly break out; verily, of this there is no doubt whatever. – Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 307.
Just as Abdu’l-Baha had prophetically foreseen, the vindictive peace treaty the Allied powers imposed on their defeated World War I enemies planted the seeds of the next war:
The ruinous reparations demanded of the vanquished — and the injustice that required them to accept the full guilt for a war for which all parties had been, to one degree or another, responsible — were among the factors that would prepare demoralized peoples in Europe to embrace totalitarian promises of relief which they might not otherwise have contemplated. – The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 39.
The Baha’i teachings see modern warfare as a complex mixture of the old prejudice and hatred of racial supremacy, and the interminable conflict and violence built into the antiquated system of nationalism in an increasingly-interdependent world. That’s why the central principle and promise of the Baha’i Faith circles around the concepts of the oneness of humanity and the unity of the world’s nations. Baha’is believe that unity precedes peace – and that only a concerted, universal and intensely spiritual reduction of human hatred can lead to unity.