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While the Baha’i writings say that love and justice comprise two of the most essential religious principles, they also offer a range of important additional teachings to guide us toward love and justice.
Those unique teachings are brand new – they have never occurred in religion before.
During his imprisonment by the Turkish Empire for teaching a new religion, Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, sent letters to the kings and rulers of the world. In these missives he announced the advent of the Promised Day, explaining to the world’s political and religious leaders at that time how to safeguard the interests of their subjects and citizens and bring about lasting global peace and harmony. Baha’u’llah was the first founder of a global Faith to address the world’s leaders.
Similarly, the son of Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha, when he was released from confinement for being a Baha’i, also sought to make the Baha’i principles known. Though ill and elderly, he travelled in the East and the West, and in hundreds of public and private talks and in books, letters and tablets promulgated his father’s messages and guidance. Abdu’l-Baha, a unique figure in all revealed religion, was not a prophet of God, but instead serves as the exemplar of how to live a Baha’i life.
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Abdu’l-Baha summarized the new Baha’i principles as a remarkable, unprecedented set of new spiritual and social teachings. These are:
- The oneness of humanity. This is the essential Baha’i principle. Baha’u’llah’s writings proclaim that: “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.” We must learn that humanity is one, that we are all part of one giant interrelated system, and that one set of moral principles applies to every human being.
- The independent investigation of truth. Baha’is understand that blind acceptance of tradition is no longer conducive to personal or social growth.
- The common foundation of all religions. It is essential to realize that all religions come from the same source – our one Creator – and that each Faith has sought to safeguard the nobility of man and advance social order. Religions, however, are subject to decline – which is why they must be periodically renewed.
- The essential harmony of science and religion. One without the other can become unbalanced and dangerous.
- The equality of men and women. “The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female,” Abdu’l-Baha said in 1912. “So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly.” For humanity to prosper, women must have equal rights with men.
- The elimination of prejudice of all kinds. The Baha’i writings proclaim that “Prejudice of all kinds, whether religious, racial, patriotic, or political is destructive of divine foundations in man. All the warfare and bloodshed in human history have been the outcome of prejudice.”
- Universal peace upheld by a world federation of nations.“ Baha’u’llah advised that:
The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized. The rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend it, and, participating in its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world’s Great Peace amongst men. Such a peace demandeth that the Great Powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquility of the peoples of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves. Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent him. If this be done, the nations of the world will no longer require any armaments, except for the purpose of preserving the security of their realms and of maintaining internal order within their territories. This will ensure the peace and composure of every people, government and nation.
This world federation, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith further explained, must include a world parliament, a world judiciary, and a world executive to carry out the laws of the parliament.
- Universal compulsory education. Lack of an education not only wastes human potential, it creates an environment in which misinformation often guides and uncritical fanaticism directs actions.
- A spiritual solution to economic problems. Baha’is believe that the extremes of wealth and poverty must be eliminated. This must include the elimination of destitution and the disappearance of the gross accumulation of ownership.
- A universal auxiliary language. The Baha’i teachings call for one language to be chosen for instruction to all the world’s children, so that human beings may all easily communicate.
These principles are not vague ideals – Baha’is believe they are the primary moral vectors currently directing humanity’s social evolution. They constitute the operating force of the greater plan of God, the way in which justice will eventually be realized for all the world’s people. They act on everyone, consciously or not. The spiritual impetus released by the Baha’i revelation means that the entire world is moving inexorably in the direction of those holy principles.
Anything that advances the essential moral foundations of these principles, will, given time, advance in this age, as the Creator has set these as goals and the universe now calls on us to achieve them.