O maid-servant of God! … The station of God is mercy, kindness, forgiveness, sacrifice, favor, grace and giving life to the spirits and lighting the fire of His love in the hearts and arteries. I asked God to make thee a sign of mercy, the banner of kindness among His maid-servants. …
O maid-servant of God! The human spirit hath an impression and effect in the world, but the divine Spirit giveth life to the souls and conferreth eternal life upon those who are attracted to the fragrances of God. This is the Great Cause from the Kingdom of thy Lord. Be attached to this New Spirit which hath effective power in the realities of things and creates new creatures.
O maid-servant of God! forsake every thought, every remembrance and every praise, while holding to the Word of God. Confine thy interests, thy works and efforts to the Cause of God. Thus the spirit of power and might will confirm thee and the manifest light will shine upon thy brow. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdul-Baha, Volume 1, pp. 65–66.
“Might” (Izzat, in Persian) is the name of the tenth Baha’i month in the 19-month Baha’i Calendar. The month of “Might” lasts from early to late September each year. Here’s a technical definition of “Izzat” from the original Persian language:
ʻizzat: Being great, powerful, rare, valuable; grandeur, glory, power, might; honour, esteem; rareness… – Francis Joseph Steingass, A Comprehensive Persian-English Dictionary, p. 847.
“Might” is power. We need power and might to get things done. The focus of this series has been “turning godly perfections into goodly actions,” and that’s exactly what the power of “Might” makes possible.
We all know that the true source of might and power is God, as channeled through the prophets of God, as Baha’u’llah writes:
Say: It is in Our power, should We wish it, to cause all created things to expire in an instant, and, with the next, to endue them again with life. The knowledge thereof, however, is with God alone, the All-Knowing, the All-Informed. It is in Our power, should We wish it, to enable a speck of floating dust to generate, in less than the twinkling of an eye, suns of infinite, of unimaginable splendour, to cause a dewdrop to develop into vast and numberless oceans, to infuse into every letter such a force as to empower it to unfold all the knowledge of past and future ages. This, in truth, is a matter simple of accomplishment. Such have been the evidences of My power from the beginning that hath no beginning until the end that hath no end. My creatures, however, have been oblivious of My power, have repudiated My sovereignty, and contended with Mine own Self, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. – Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, pp. 39–40.
At first glance, this passage appears to be about God’s power over the physical universe. But the main focus of power, in the Baha’i writings, is on spiritual power. Therefore, this passage can be read figuratively as well as literally.
You and I do not have much power over the physical universe. We cannot command the forces of nature, or marshal the laws of physics and bend them according to our wishes.
We can, however, exercise power and might over our spiritual (and therefore physical) lives, to a great extent. Naturally some things are simply beyond our power to avert, such as death, when it finally comes to deliver us out of this world of space and time into a world of spirit.
So we can use the attribute of “Might” to empower our thoughts, volition and actions. Mental and spiritual power, after all, can accomplish what sheer physical power simply cannot. It can influence the hearts and souls of others, so that this transformation of consciousness, in turn, can beneficially restructure the way people think, widen their horizons, and empower them to make a difference in this world through their own individual and collective contributions to society. That is the real effect of human power and might.
We’ve all heard the expression, “Might makes right.” Usually that means disputes can be settled by force. But we know that no conflict is truly resolved by coercion. True conflict resolution requires consent to creative and workable solutions.
You’ve probably heard the “Kingdom of God” used as a metaphor for the power and influence of spiritual teachings within human society. Let’s extend that metaphor. In the following tablet, Abdu’l-Baha writes to someone named Alexander. Taking the opportunity of using the name, “Alexander,” to make an important point, Abdu’l-Baha compares spiritual sovereignty with earthly dominion, invoking the historical example of Alexander the Great who, although a mighty conqueror, did not exert a lasting spiritual influence:
O Iskandar! (Alexander)
Although Alexander the Greek hath conquered the continent of Asia and even some regions of other continents, he lastly met with the misfortune of annihilation. Whereas he was a lord and a rich man, he became a slave and indigent; whilst he was wearing a long garb, he became naked; and whereas he was full of life, he became black dust. Since things are such as this, thou shouldst, by establishing a spiritual dominion and putting in authority a moral government, enchant the cities of the hearts of the friends… – Abdu’l-Baha, from a tablet written in Turkish, provisional translation by Necati Alkan.
Abdu’l-Baha calls upon us to do our part to establish “a spiritual dominion” and “a moral government.” Rather than might making right, he urges each of us to use the power and might of the spiritual realm to establish just, moral governments that do not resort to force here in the material realm.