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There is not one soul whose conscience does not testify that in this day there is no more important matter in the world than that of universal peace. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 296
This lengthy series of essays on the most “important matter” of building a peaceful and unified world community doesn’t even come close to exhausting the Baha’i teachings on the subject. Voluminous, powerful and deep, they establish a lofty, achievable goal and draw a detailed blueprint for reaching that goal: a world free of war and rumors of war. No religious dispensation has ever outlined a path to peace in this way, with this level of specificity, from this profound and practical a perspective:
We have the history of the world for nearly six thousand years. Before that there is no record. During these six thousand years there has been constant war, strife, bloodshed. We can see at a glance the results, achievements and outcomes of war. The history of warfare and strife is known, the effect apparent. Have we not a sufficient standard of experience in this direction? Let us now try peace for awhile. If good results follow, let us adhere to it. If not let us throw it away and fight again. Nothing will be lost by the experiment. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 2, p. 9.
The Baha’i revelation, directly from Baha’u’llah, holds the key to establishing that global peace. Baha’is believe these innovative, unique solutions come to us as a great bounty from God; were forged in exile and in prison by the most recent prophet of God; and will result in the establishment of the great global peace that seers, artists, mystics and poets have foreseen for millennia.
All of this, the Baha’i teachings explain, emerged from the central message of Baha’u’llah, who:
…endured the most afflictive of calamities. He bore countless agonies and ills. He enjoyed not a moment’s peace, drew not an easeful breath. He wandered, homeless, over desert sands and mountain slopes; He was shut in a fortress, and a prison cell. But to Him, His pauper’s mat of straw was an eternal throne of glory, and His heavy chains a sovereign’s carcanet. By day, by night, He lived under a whirring sword, and He was ready from moment to moment for death on the cross. He bore all this that He might purify the world, and deck it out with the tender mercies of the Lord God; that He might set it at rest; that conflict and aggression might be put to flight, the lance and the keen blade be exchanged for loving fellowship, malevolence and war turn into safety and gentleness and love, that battlefields of hate and wrath should become gardens of delight, and places where once the blood-drenched armies clashed, be fragrant pleasure grounds; that warfare should be seen as shame, and the resort to arms, even as a loathsome sickness, be shunned by every people; that universal peace raise its pavilions on the loftiest mounts, and war be made to perish forever from the earth. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 257-258.
Baha’u’llah challenged the political and religious leaders of the planet to implement that beautiful, radiant, hopeful vision:
Therefore Baha’u’llah, fifty years ago, expounded this question of universal peace at a time when He was confined in the fortress of Akka and was wronged and imprisoned. He wrote about this important matter of universal peace to all the great sovereigns of the world, and established it among His friends in the orient. The horizon of the east was in utter darkness, nations displayed the utmost hatred and enmity towards each other, religions thirsted for each other’s blood, and it was darkness upon darkness. At such a time Baha’u’llah shone forth like the sun from the horizon of the east and illumined Persia with the lights of these teachings.
Among His teachings was the declaration of universal peace. People of different nations, religions and sects who followed Him came together to such an extent that remarkable gatherings were instituted consisting of the various nations and religions of the east. Every soul who entered these gatherings saw but one nation, one teaching, one pathway, one order, for the teachings of Baha’u’llah were not limited to the establishment of universal peace. They embraced many teachings which supplemented and supported that of universal peace. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 297-298.
The Baha’i teachings culminate and find their ultimate expression in this focal center—the promise of unity and peace in our world:
The darkness of this gloomy night shall pass away. Again the Sun of Reality will dawn from the horizon of the hearts. Have patience—wait, but do not sit idle; work while you are waiting; smile while you are wearied with monotony; be firm while everything around you is being shaken; be joyous while the ugly face of despair grins at you; speak aloud while the malevolent forces of the nether world try to crush your mind; be valiant and courageous while men all around you are cringing with fear and cowardice. Do not yield to the overwhelming power of tyranny and despotism. Serve the cause of democracy and freedom. Continue your journey to the end. The bright day is coming. The nucleus of the new race is forming. The harbinger of the new ideals of international justice is appearing. The trees of hope will become verdant; the copper of scorn and derision will be transmuted into the gold of honour and praise; the arid desert of ignorance will be transformed into the luxuriant garden of knowledge, the threatening clouds shall be dispelled and the stars of faith and charity will again twinkle in the clear heaven of human consciousness. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 5, p. 141.