O that I could travel, even though on foot and in the utmost poverty, to these regions, and, raising the call of “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá” in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans, promote the divine teachings! This, alas, I cannot do. How intensely I deplore it! Please God, ye may achieve it.1
[In 2016] the Bahá’í world will mark one hundred years since the first of the Tablets of the Divine Plan flowed from the pen of the Master. In these fourteen Tablets, revealed during one of humanity’s darkest hours, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá laid out a charter2 for the teaching work that defined its theatre of action as the entire planet. Held in abeyance until 1937, when the first in a succession of Plans launched at the instigation of the Guardian was assigned to the Bahá’ís of North American, the Divine Plan has continued to unfold over the decades since as the collective capacity of Bahá’u’lláh’s followers has grown, enabling them to take on ever-greater challenges. How wondrous the vision of the Plan’s Author! Placing before the friends the prospect of a day when the light of His Father’s Revelation would illuminate every corner of the world, He set out not only strategies for achieving this feat but guiding principles and unchanging spiritual requisites. Every effort made by the friends to systematically propagate the divine teachings traces its origins to the forces set in motion in the Divine Plan.3
“Abdul Baha wrote these letters under dangerous conditions at the height of World War I from what was then Ottoman Palestine to the small Baha’i community in North America (the much larger community in Persia was suffering heavy persecution, as it still does now in Iran.) At that time, the American community was only about two decades old, and its members were being asked to travel to some of the most remote corners of the earth. Abdul Baha asked a visiting student who happened to have a geography textbook if he could keep the textbook, and this was used to list out the sometimes obscure places that the North American Baha’is were called on to visit.”4
When, to Whom and Where Were the Tablets Revealed?
In the garden adjacent to the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh
United States & Canada
In ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s room at the house in Bahjí
United States & Canada
In ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s room at the house in Bahjí
February 2, 1917
In Ismá’íl ‘Aqá’s room at the house of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Haifa
In Ismá’íl ‘Aqá’s room
In Bahá’u’lláh’s room at the house of ‘Abbúd in ‘Akká
In Bahá’u’lláh’s room at the house of ‘Abbúd
In Bahá’u’lláh’s room at the house of ‘Abbúd
United States & Canada
In the summer-house (Ismá’íl ‘Aqá’s room) at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s house in Haifa
The Countries, States, Territories, Islands, Cities to be Opened, and the Peoples Named
Mar 26, 1916
Cities in the Northeastern States
The Southern States
Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas specifically named
New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Arizona and Nevada specifically named
Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Mackenzie, Keewatin, Ungava, Franklin Islands and Greenland all specifically named, as well as the Eskimo peoples
United States & Canada
Alaska, Mexico, the 6 Central American Republics of Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama. Belize (or British Honduras). The Indian peoples. The islands of the West Indies: Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Lesser Antilles, Bahama Islands, even the small Watling Island, the two black republics, Haiti and Santo Domingo in the Greater Antilles. Bermuda.
The republics of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, British Guiana, Dutch Guiana, French Guiana, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Venezuela. Islands: Falkland Islands, the Galapagos, Juan Fernandez, Tobago and Trinidad. The city of Bahia in Brazil.
United States & Canada
3 great Island groups of the Pacific Ocean – Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia: New Guinea, Borneo, Java, Sumatra, Philippine Islands, Solomon Islands, Fiji, New Hebrides, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, Bismarc Archipelago, Ceram, Celebes, Friendly Islands, Samoa Islands, Society Islands, Caroline Islands, Low Archipelago, Marquesas, Hawaiian Islands, Gilbert Islands, Moluccas, Marshall Islands, Timor, and the other islands
Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Japan, Asiatic Russia, Korea, French Indo-China, Siam, Straits Settlements, India, Ceylon, Afghanistan
Continent of Africa, Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands, Madeira Islands, Reunion Island, St. Helena, Zanzibar, Mauritius
British Isles, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Portugal, Roumania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Monaco, San Marino, Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, Malta, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Shetland Islands, Hebrides and Orkney Islands
The Tablets of the Divine Plan Arrival in North America
the first five Tablets arrived in North America in the summer of 1916, written on postcards, and were published in the Star of the West, September 8, 1916
communications between the Holy Land and the West were suspended then, due to World War I
after the war, the rest of the Tablets were sent to America
all 14 Tablets were unveiled during the “Convention of the Covenant”, Hotel McAlpine in New York City, April 26-30, 1919
some 120 territories and islands were named in the Tablets, with Bahá’ís living in 35 countries circa 1919 (Balyuzi, 424)
The Strategy, or How the Tablets were Implemented
some individuals arose immediately, Clara & Henry Hyde Dunn, Martha Root, Agnes Alexander, Marion Jack all travelled internationally
institutionally, there were very few local or national Spiritual Assemblies in 1919; Shoghi Effendi spent many years patiently building the Administrative Order
1937-1944 – the Guardian presented the First Seven Year Plan to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, the primary goal of which was to establish a local Spiritual Assembly in every state and province, thereby inaugurating the first systematic implementation of the Tablets of the Divine Plan
1946-1953 – the Second Seven Year Plan, also given to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, a primary goal of which was to spiritually revitalize Europe, then suffering for the second time in the 20th Century from the ravages of war (Note: seven other regional/national Spiritual Assemblies were also given Plans by the Guardian in this period)
1953-1963 – the Guardian unveiled the Ten Year Crusade, giving every Bahá’í the mandate to fulfil the Tablets of the Divine Plan. Bahá’ís who settled virgin countries and territories were designated “Knights of Bahá’u’lláh”.
The apostles of Jesus travelled outward from the Holy Land to the known world to bring the Glad Tidings. As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote,
“Consider! The station and the confirmation of the apostles in the time of Christ was not known, and no one looked on them with the feeling of importance—nay, rather, they persecuted and ridiculed them. Later on it became evident what crowns studded with the brilliant jewels of guidance were placed on the heads of the apostles, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of John.” 10
“…we must not consider our ability and capacity, nay, rather, we must fix our gaze upon the favours and bounties of God…” (Tablet 1, paragraph 3, or 1-3)
“… you must either go yourselves or send a number of blessed souls … so that they may guide the people to the Kingdom of Heaven.” (2-3)
“Appreciate ye the value of this time and be ye engaged in the sowing of the seeds …” (2-5)
“Send to those parts teachers who are severed from all else save God, sanctified and pure.” (3-3)
“… it is better for those who intend to go to Mexico to teach, to be familiar with the Spanish language.” (6-6) “The teachers traveling in different directions must know the language of the country in which they will enter.” (8-19)
“Attach great importance to the indigenous population of America.” (6-8)
“Books and pamphlets must be either translated or composed in the languages of these countries and islands, to be circulated in every part and in all directions.” (7-12)
“Thus far ye have been untiring in your labours. Let your exertions henceforth increase a thousandfold. Summon the people in these countries, capitals, islands, assemblies and churches to enter the Abhá Kingdom. The scope of your exertions must needs be extended.” (7-16)
“Be not concerned with the smallness of your numbers, neither be oppressed by the multitude of an unbelieving world.” (13-5)
Intention – “Exalt your effort and magnify your aims.” (6-12)
Detachment – “Now is the time for you to divest yourselves of the garment of attachment to this world that perisheth, to be wholly severed from the physical world, become heavenly angels, and travel to these countries.” (6-13)
Purposefulness – “With hearts overflowing with the love of God, with tongues commemorating the mention of God, with eyes turned to the Kingdom of God, they must deliver the glad tidings of the manifestation of the Lord of Hosts to all the people.” (7-5)
Selflessness – “Consequently, one must close his eyes wholly to these thoughts11, long for eternal life, the sublimity of the world of humanity, the celestial developments, the Holy Spirit, the promotion of the Word of God, the guidance of the inhabitants of the globe, the promulgation of universal peace and the proclamation of the oneness of the world of humanity! This is the work!” (7-18)
Prayer – “Whoso sets out on a teaching journey to any place, let him recite this prayer day and night during his travels in foreign lands…” (7-22)
Sacrifice – “We must not sit inactive for one moment; we must sever ourselves from composure, rest, tranquillity, goods, property, life and attachment to material things. We must sacrifice everything to His Highness, the Possess of existence …” (10-7)
Firmness – “… become ye sanctified above and purified from this world and the inhabitants thereof; suffer your intentions to work for the good of all; cut your attachment to the earth and like unto the essence of the spirit become ye light and delicate. Then with a firm resolution, a pure heart, a rejoiced spirit, and an eloquent tongue, engage your time in the promulgation of the divine principles…” (10-10)
Steadfastness – “The teachers of the Cause must be heavenly, lordly and radiant. They must be embodied spirit, personified intellect, and arise in service with the utmost firmness, steadfastness and self-sacrifice. In their journeys they must not be attached to food and clothing. They must concentrate their thoughts on the outpourings of the Kingdom of God and beg for the confirmations of the Holy Spirit.” (12-10)
Promise of Divine Confirmations
There is no doubt that the assistance and the bestowal of God shall descend upon you.” (2-1)
“…the believers of God must become self-sacrificing and like unto the candles of guidance become ignited… Should they show forth such a magnanimity, it is assured that they will obtain universal divine confirmations, the heavenly cohorts will reinforce them uninterruptedly, and a most great victory will be obtained.” (5-2)
“The moment this divine Message is carried forward by the American believers from the shores of America and is propagated through the continents of Europe, of Asia, of Africa and of Australasia, and as far as the islands of the Pacific, this community will find itself securely established upon the throne of an everlasting dominion.” (7-5)
Know ye of a certainty that whatever gathering ye enter, the waves of the Holy Spirit are surging over it, and the heavenly grace of the Blessed Beauty encompasseth that gathering. (7-5)
Therefore, know ye of a certainty that whosoever arises in this day to diffuse the divine fragrances, the cohorts of the Kingdom of God shall confirm him and the bestowals and the favours of the Blessed Perfection shall encircle him.” (7-7)
Consider ye, what happiness, what joy is this! I declare by the Lord of Hosts that had this respected daughter12 founded an empire, that empire would not have been so great! For this sovereignty is eternal sovereignty and this glory is everlasting glory.” (7-9)
“Should one of them turn his face toward some direction and summon the people to the Kingdom of God, all the ideal forces and lordly confirmations will rush to his support and reinforcement.” (8-3)
“Behold the portals which Bahá’u’lláh hath opened before you! Consider how exalted and lofty is the station you are destined to attain; how unique the favours with which you have been endowed….” (8-6)
“… rest ye assured in the confirmation of the Merciful and the assistance of the Most High…” (10-10)
“… your mission is unspeakably glorious. Should success crown your enterprise, America will assuredly evolve into a centre from which waves of spiritual power will emanate, and the throne of the Kingdom of God will, in the plentitude of its majesty and glory, be firmly established.” (11-11)
“This is the most great work! Should you become confirmed therein, this world will become another world, the surface of the earth will become the delectable paradise, and eternal Institutions be founded.” (14-11)
Unchanging Spiritual Requisites
“To attain to this supreme station is, however, dependent on the realization of certain conditions:13
“… firmness in the Covenant of God …” (8-8)
“… Fellowship and love amongst the believers. The divine friends must be attracted to and enamoured of each other and ever be ready and willing to sacrifice their own lives for each other…. O ye friends! Fellowship, fellowship! Love, love! Unity, unity!” (8-9, 10)
“… Teachers must continually travel to all parts of the continent, nay, rather, to all parts of the world, but they must travel like ‘Abdu’l-Bahá … sanctified and free from every attachment and in the utmost severance….” (8-11)
“The aim is this: The intention of the teacher must be pure, his heart independent, his spirit attracted, his thought at peace, his resolution firm, his magnanimity exalted and iin the love of God a shining torch.” (8-13)
Supplications Found in the Tablets of the Divine Plan
Tablet 6 – Revealed to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada
O Thou Incomparable God! O Thou Lord of the Kingdom! These souls are Thy heavenly army. Assist them and, with the cohorts of the Supreme Concourse, make them victorious, so that each one of them may become like unto a regiment and conquer these countries through the love of God and the illumination of divine teachings.
O God! Be Thou their supporter and their helper, and in the wilderness, the mountain, the valley, the forests, the prairies and the seas, be Thou their confidant—so that they may cry out through the power of the Kingdom and the breath of the Holy Spirit.
Verily, Thou art the Powerful, the Mighty and the Omnipotent, and Thou art the Wise, the Hearing and the Seeing.
Tablet 7 – Revealed to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada
Whoever sets out on a teaching journey to any place, let him recite this prayer day and night during his travels in foreign lands:
O God, my God! Thou seest me enraptured and attracted toward Thy glorious kingdom, enkindled with the fire of Thy love amongst mankind, a herald of Thy kingdom in these vast and spacious lands, severed from aught else save Thee, relying on Thee, abandoning rest and comfort, remote from my native home, a wanderer in these regions, a stranger fallen upon the ground, humble before Thine exalted threshold, submissive toward the heaven of Thine omnipotent glory, supplicating Thee in the dead of night and at the break of dawn, entreating and invoking Thee at morn and at eventide to graciously aid me to serve Thy Cause, to spread abroad Thy teachings and to exalt Thy Word throughout the East and the West.
O Lord! Strengthen my back, enable me to serve Thee with the utmost endeavor, and leave me not to myself, lonely and helpless in these regions.
O Lord! Grant me communion with Thee in my loneliness, and be my companion in these foreign lands.
Verily, Thou art the Confirmer of whomsoever Thou willest in that which Thou desirest, and, verily, Thou art the All-Powerful, the Omnipotent.
Tablet 8 – Revealed to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada
O God, my God! Thou seest how black darkness is enshrouding all regions, how all countries are burning with the flame of dissension, and the fire of war and carnage is blazing through out the East and the West. Blood is flowing, corpses bestrew the ground, and severed heads are fallen on the dust of the battlefield.
O Lord! Have pity on these ignorant ones and look upon them with the eye of forgiveness and pardon. Extinguish this fire, so that these dense clouds which obscure the horizon may be scattered, the Sun of Reality shine forth with the rays of conciliation, this intense gloom be dispelled and the resplendent light of peace shed its radiance upon all countries.
O Lord! Draw up the people from the abyss of the ocean of hatred and enmity, and deliver them from this impenetrable darkness. Unite their hearts, and brighten their eyes with the light of peace and reconciliation. Deliver them from the depths of war and bloodshed, and free them from the darkness of error. Remove the veil from their eyes, and enlighten their hearts with the light of guidance. Treat them with Thy tender mercy and compassion, and deal not with them according to Thy justice and wrath which cause the limbs of the mighty to quake.
O Lord! Wars have persisted. Distress and anxiety have waxed great and every flourishing region is laid waste.
O Lord! Hearts are heavy, and souls are in anguish. Have mercy on these poor souls and do not leave them to the excesses of their own desires.
O Lord! Make manifest in Thy lands humble and submissive souls, their faces illumined with the rays of guidance, severed from the world, extolling Thy Name, uttering Thy praise, and diffusing the fragrance of Thy holiness amongst mankind.
O Lord! Strengthen their backs, gird up their loins, and enrapture their hearts with the most mighty signs of Thy love.
O Lord! Verily, they are weak, and Thou art the Powerful and the Mighty; they are impotent, and Thou art the Helper and the Merciful.
O Lord! The ocean of rebellion is surging, and these tempests will not be stilled save through Thy boundless grace which hath embraced all regions.
O Lord! Verily, the people are in the abyss of passion, and naught can save them but Thine infinite bounties.
O Lord! Dispel the darkness of these corrupt desires, and illumine the hearts with the lamp of Thy love through which all countries will erelong be enlightened. Confirm, moreover, Thy loved ones, those who, leaving their homelands, their families and their children, have, for the love of Thy Beauty, traveled to foreign countries to diffuse Thy fragrances and promulgate Thy teachings. Be Thou their companion in their loneliness, their helper in a strange land, the remover of their sorrows, their comforter in calamity. Be Thou a refreshing draught for their thirst, a healing medicine for their ills and a balm for the burning ardor of their hearts.
Verily, Thou art the Most Generous, the Lord of grace abounding, and, verily, Thou art the Compassionate and the Merciful.
Tablet 9 – Revealed to the Bahá’ís of the Northeastern States
The following supplication is to be read by the teachers and friends daily:
O Thou kind Lord! Praise be unto Thee that Thou hast shown us the highway of guidance, opened the doors of the kingdom and manifested Thyself through the Sun of Reality. To the blind Thou hast given sight; to the deaf Thou hast granted hearing; Thou hast resuscitated the dead; Thou hast enriched the poor; Thou hast shown the way to those who have gone astray; Thou hast led those with parched lips to the fountain of guidance; Thou hast suffered the thirsty fish to reach the ocean of reality; and Thou hast invited the wandering birds to the rose garden of grace.
O Thou Almighty! We are Thy servants and Thy poor ones; we are remote and yearn for Thy presence, are athirst for the water of Thy fountain, are ill, longing for Thy healing. We are walking in Thy path and have no aim or hope save the diffusion of Thy fragrance, so that all souls may raise the cry: O God, “Guide us to the straight path.”2 May their eyes be opened to behold the light, and may they be freed from the darkness of ignorance. May they gather around the lamp of Thy guidance. May every portionless one receive a share. May the deprived become the confidants of Thy mysteries.
O Almighty! Look upon us with the glance of mercifulness. Grant us heavenly confirmation. Bestow upon us the breath of the Holy Spirit, so that we may be assisted in Thy service and, like unto brilliant stars, shine in these regions with the light of Thy guidance.
Verily, Thou art the Powerful, the Mighty, the Wise and the Seeing.
Tablet 10 – Revealed to the Bahá’ís of the Southern States
Every soul who travels through the cities, villages and hamlets of these states and is engaged in the diffusion of the fragrances of God, should peruse this commune every morning:
O My God! O my God! Thou seest me in my lowliness and weakness, occupied with the greatest undertaking, determined to raise Thy word among the masses and to spread Thy teachings among Thy peoples. How can I succeed unless Thou assist me with the breath of the Holy Spirit, help me to triumph by the hosts of Thy glorious kingdom, and shower upon me Thy confirmations, which alone can change a gnat into an eagle, a drop of water into rivers and seas, and an atom into lights and suns? O my Lord! Assist me with Thy triumphant and effective might, so that my tongue may utter Thy praises and attributes among all people and my soul overflow with the wine of Thy love and knowledge.
Thou art the Omnipotent and the Doer of whatsoever Thou willest.
Tablet 11 – Revealed to the Bahá’ís of the Central States
Let the spreaders of the fragrances of God recite this prayer every morning:
O Lord, my God! Praise and thanksgiving be unto Thee for Thou hast guided me to the highway of the kingdom, suffered me to walk in this straight and far-stretching path, illumined my eye by beholding the splendors of Thy light, inclined my ear to the melodies of the birds of holiness from the kingdom of mysteries and attracted my heart with Thy love among the righteous.
O Lord! Confirm me with the Holy Spirit, so that I may call in Thy Name amongst the nations, and give the glad tidings of the manifestation of Thy kingdom amongst mankind.
O Lord! I am weak, strengthen me with Thy power and potency. My tongue falters, suffer me to utter Thy commemoration and praise. I am lowly, honor me through admitting me into Thy kingdom. I am remote, cause me to approach the threshold of Thy mercifulness. O Lord! Make me a brilliant lamp, a shining star and a blessed tree, adorned with fruit, its branches overshadowing all these regions. Verily, Thou art the Mighty, the Powerful and Unconstrained.
Tablet 12 – Revealed to the Bahá’ís of the Western States
The following commune is to be read by them every day:
O God! O God! This is a broken-winged bird and his flight is very slow—assist him so that he may fly toward the apex of prosperity and salvation, wing his way with the utmost joy and happiness throughout the illimitable space, raise his melody in Thy Supreme Name in all the regions, exhilarate the ears with this call, and brighten the eyes by beholding the signs of guidance.
O Lord! I am single, alone and lowly. For me there is no support save Thee, no helper except Thee and no sustainer beside Thee. Confirm me in Thy service, assist me with the cohorts of Thine angels, make me victorious in the promotion of Thy Word and suffer me to speak out Thy wisdom amongst Thy creatures. Verily, Thou art the helper of the weak and the defender of the little ones, and verily Thou art the Powerful, the Mighty and the Unconstrained.
Tablet 13 – Revealed to the Bahá’ís of Canada
Praise be to Thee, O my God! These are Thy servants who are attracted by the fragrances of Thy mercifulness, are enkindled by the fire burning in the tree of Thy singleness, and whose eyes are brightened by beholding the splendors of the light shining in the Sinai of Thy oneness.
O Lord! Loose their tongues to make mention of Thee amongst Thy people, suffer them to speak forth Thy praise through Thy grace and loving-kindness, assist them with the cohorts of Thine angels, strengthen their loins in Thy service, and make them the signs of Thy guidance amongst Thy creatures.
Verily, Thou art the All-Powerful, the Most Exalted, the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Merciful.
The spreaders of the fragrances of God should recite this prayer every morning:
O God, my God! Thou beholdest this weak one begging for celestial strength, this poor one craving Thy heavenly treasures, this thirsty one longing for the fountain of eternal life, this afflicted one yearning for Thy promised healing through Thy boundless mercy which Thou hast destined for Thy chosen servants in Thy kingdom on high.
O Lord! I have no helper save Thee, no shelter besides Thee, and no sustainer except Thee. Assist me with Thine angels to diffuse Thy holy fragrances and to spread abroad Thy teachings amongst the choicest of Thy people.
O my Lord! Suffer me to be detached from aught else save Thee, to hold fast to the hem of Thy bounty, to be wholly devoted to Thy Faith, to remain fast and firm in Thy love and to observe what Thou hast prescribed in Thy Book.
Verily, Thou art the Powerful, the Mighty, the Omnipotent.
Tablet 14 – Revealed to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada
Let whosoever travels to different parts to teach, peruse over mountain, desert, land and sea this supplication:
O God! O God! Thou seest my weakness, lowliness and humility before Thy creatures; nevertheless, I have trusted in Thee and have arisen in the promotion of Thy teachings among Thy strong servants, relying on Thy power and might.
O Lord! I am a broken-winged bird and desire to soar in Thy limitless space. How is it possible for me to do this save through Thy providence and grace, Thy confirmation and assistance.
O Lord! Have pity on my weakness, and strengthen me with Thy power. O Lord! Have pity on my impotence, and assist me with Thy might and majesty.
O Lord! Should the breath of the Holy Spirit confirm the weakest of creatures, he would attain all to which he aspireth and would possess anything he desireth. Indeed, Thou hast assisted Thy servants in the past and, though they were the weakest of Thy creatures, the lowliest of Thy servants and the most insignificant of those who lived upon the earth, through Thy sanction and potency they took precedence over the most glorious of Thy people and the most noble of mankind. Whereas formerly they were as moths, they became as royal falcons, and whereas before they were as brooks, they became as seas, through Thy bestowal and Thy mercy. They became, through Thy most great favor, stars shining on the horizon of guidance, birds singing in the rose gardens of immortality, lions roaring in the forests of knowledge and wisdom, and whales swimming in the oceans of life.
Verily, Thou art the Clement, the Powerful, the Mighty, and the Most Merciful of the merciful.
1 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, Tablet #7, to the Bahá’ís of United States and Canada, revealed on April 11, 1916
2 The three Charter documents in the Bahá’í Faith are (1) the Tablet of Carmel that contains significant allusions to the establishment of the Word Centre, (2) the Tablets of the Divine Plan that call for systematic expansion of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh throughout the world, and (3) the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that outlines the Administrative Order.
3 The Universal House of Justice to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, 29 December 2016, paragraph 51
4 How a Textbook and Postcards Helped Establish the Second Most Widespread Religion, by Shastri Purushotma, 15 March 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shastri-purushotma/how-postcards-and-a-geogr_b_9229922.html
5 9 States of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York
6 16 States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas
7 12 States of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa, Missourit, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas
8 11 States of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, California, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington
9 Addressed to the Bahá’í of Canada: Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Mackenzie, Keewatin, Ungava, Franklin Islands and Greenland
A belief that human values are determined by race, that one race has supremacy over another; prejudice or discrimination based on race. – A Basic Baha’i Dictionary
The assumption that the characteristics and abilities of an individual are determined by race and that one race is biologically superior to another; a political program or social system based on these assumptions. – New Webster’s Dictionary
Effect of Racism
“Racism, one of the most baneful and persistent evils, is a major barrier to peace. Its practice perpetrates too outrageous a violation of the dignity of human beings to be countenanced under any pretext. Racism retards the unfoldment of the boundless potentialities of its victims, corrupts its perpetrators, and blights human progress.” – The Promise of World Peace, October 1985, p. 7
“All prejudices, whether of religion, race, politics or nation, must be renounced, for these prejudices have caused the world’s sickness. It is a grave malady which, unless arrested, is capable of causing the destruction of the whole human race. Every ruinous war, with its terrible bloodshed and misery, has been caused by one or other of these prejudices.” – Paris Talks, p. 146
Oneness of Humanity
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female created He them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply….’” – Bible: Genesis 1:27-28
“Say ye: “We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ismá’íl, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them….” – Qur’an: 2:136 ‑ Al-Baqarah
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” – Qur’an: 49:13 – Al-Hujurat
“O Children of Men! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other…. – The Hidden Words, Arabic #68
“All humanity are the children of God; they belong to the same family, to the same original race. There can be no multiplicity of races, since all are the descendants of Adam…. We are of one physical race even as we are of one physical plan of material body; each endowed with two eyes, two ears, one head, two feet.” – Abdu’l-Baha in Canada, p. 19
“World order can be founded only on an unshakeable consciousness of the oneness of mankind, a spiritual truth which all the human sciences confirm. Anthropology, physiology, psychology, recognize only one human species, albeit infinitely varied in the secondary aspects of life.” – The Promise of World Peace
“The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.” – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, CXVII
Preserving Inherited Cultural Identities
“Baha’is should obviously be encouraged to preserve their inherited cultural identities, as long as the activities involved do not contravene the principles of the Faith. The perpetuation of such cultural characteristics is an expression of unity in diversity.” – The Pupil of the Eye, p. 71
“It [the unity of the human race] does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world. It calls for a wider loyalty, for a larger aspiration that any that has animated the human race.” – The World Order of Baha’u’llah, pp. 41-42
Contributing to the solution
“Let the white make a supreme effort in their resolve to contribute their share to the solution of this problem, to abandon once for all their usually inherent and at times subconscious sense of superiority, to correct their tendency towards revealing a patronizing attitude towards the members of the other race, to persuade them through their intimate, spontaneous and informal association with them of the genuineness of their friendship and the sincerity of their intentions, and to master their impatience of any lack of responsiveness on the part of a people who have received, for so long a period, such grievous and slow‑healing wounds. Let the Negroes, through a corresponding effort on their part, show by every means in their power the warmth of their response, their readiness to forget the past, and their ability to wipe out every trace of suspicion that may still linger in their hearts and minds. Let neither think that the solution of so vast a problem is a matter that exclusively concerns the other. Let neither think that such a problem can either easily or immediately be resolved. Let neither think that they can wait confidently for the solution of this problem until the initiative has been taken, and the favorable circumstances created, by agencies that stand outside the orbit of their Faith. Let neither think that anything short of genuine love, extreme patience, true humility, consummate tact, sound initiative, mature wisdom, and deliberate, persistent, and prayerful effort, can succeed in blotting out the stain which this patent evil has left on the fair name of their common country. Let them rather believe, and be firmly convinced, that on their mutual understanding, their amity, and sustained cooperation, must depend, more than on any other force or organization operating outside the circle of their Faith, the deflection of that dangerous course so greatly feared by `Abdu’l‑Bahá, and the materialization of the hopes He cherished for their joint contribution to the fulfillment of that country’s glorious destiny.” – The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 40-41
A hundred times more consideration
“It is difficult for the friends to always remember that in matter[s] where race enters, a hundred times more consideration and wisdom in handling situations is necessary than when an issue is not complicated by this factor.” The Pupil of the Eye, p. 87
Tremendous Effort Required By Both Races
“A tremendous effort is required by both races if their outlook, their manners, and conduct are to reflect, in this darkened age, the spirit and teachings of the Faith of Baha’u’llah. Casting away once and for all the fallacious doctrine of racial superiority, with all its attendant evils, confusion, and miseries, and welcoming and encouraging the intermixture of races, and tearing down the barriers that now divide them, they should each endeavor, day and night, to fulfil their particular responsibilities in the common task which so urgently faces them.” – The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 39-40
The Races As Jewels
“In the clustered jewels of the races may the blacks be as sapphires and rubies and the whites as diamonds and pearls. The composite beauty of humanity will be witnessed in their unity and blending. How glorious the spectacle of real unity among mankind! How conductive to peace, confidence and happiness if races and nations were united in fellowship and accord!
In physical bodies, in the law of growth, in sense endowment, intelligence, patriotism, language, citizenship, civilization and religion you are one and the same. A single point of distinction exists – that of racial colour. God is not pleased with – neither should any reasonable or intelligent man be willing to recognize – inequality in the races because of this distinction.
But there is need of a superior power to overcome human prejudice, a power which nothing in the world of mankind can withstand and which will overshadow the effect of all other forces at work in the human conditions. That irresistible power is the love of God.” – Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 68
Religion: Particular system of faith and worship; human recognition of superhuman controlling power and esp. of a personal God or gods entitled to obedience and worship. Concise Oxford Dictionary
Science: knowledge; systematic and formulated knowledge; physical or natural sciences collectively; branch of knowledge esp. one that can be conducted on scientific principles such as observation, experiment and deduction
What is Science?
[Science] is the very foundation of all individual and national development. Without this basis of investigation, development is impossible. Therefore seek with diligent endeavour the knowledge and attainment of all that lies within the power of this wonderful bestowal. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 61
A New Principle
Bahá’u’lláh teaches that religion must be in conformity with science and reason. If belief and teaching are opposed to the analysis of reason and principles of science, they are not worthy of acceptance. This principle has not been revealed in any of the former Books of divine teaching. – `Abdu’l‑Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 434
The Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh are many. The precepts and teachings they contain are universal, covering every subject. He has revealed scientific explanations ranging throughout all the realms of human inquiry and investigation‑‑astronomy, biology, medical science, etc – `Abdu’l‑Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 155
The Most Noble Of All Virtues
God has conferred upon and added to man a distinctive power, the faculty of intellectual investigation into the secrets of creation, the acquisition of higher knowledge, the greatest virtue of which is scientific enlightenment. This endowment is the most praiseworthy power of man, for through its employment and exercise, the betterment of the human race is accomplished, the development of the virtues of mankind is made possible and the spirit and mysteries of God become manifest. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 49
This scientific power investigates and apprehends created objects and the laws surrounding them. It is the discoverer of the hidden and mysterious secrets of the material universe and is peculiar to man alone. The most noble and praiseworthy accomplishment of man, therefore, is scientific knowledge and attainment. – `Abdu’l‑Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 29
The highest praise is due to men who devote their energies to science, and the noblest center is a center wherein the sciences and arts are taught and studied. Science ever tends to the illumination of the world of humanity. It is the cause of eternal honor to man, and its sovereignty is far greater than the sovereignty of kings. The dominion of kings has an ending; the king himself may be dethroned; but the sovereignty of science is everlasting and without end. – `Abdu’l‑Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 348
Religion And Science Are In Conformity
And among the teachings of Baha’u’llah is that religion must be in conformity with science and reason, so that it may influence the hearts of men. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 299
Whatever the intelligence of man cannot understand, religion ought not to accept. Religion and science walk hand in hand, and any religion contrary to science is not the truth. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 131
There is no contradiction between true religion and science. When a religion is opposed to science it becomes mere superstition: that which is contrary to knowledge is ignorance. … The true principles of all religions are in conformity with the teachings of science. The Unity of God is logical, and this idea is not antagonistic to the conclusions arrived at by scientific study. All religions teach that we must do good, that we must be generous, sincere, truthful, law-abiding, and faithful; all this is reasonable, and logically the only way in which humanity can progress. All religious laws conform to reason, and are suited to the people for whom they are framed, and for the age in which they are to be obeyed. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 141-42
The outcome of all this dissension [that forms and rituals in the various churches differ among the various churches and even contradict one another] is the belief of many cultured men that religion and science are contradictory terms, that religion needs no powers of reflection, and should in no wise be regulated by science, but must of necessity be opposed, the one to the other. The unfortunate effect of this is that science has drifted apart from religion, and religion has become a mere blind and more of less apathetic following of the precepts of certain religious teachers, who insist on their own favourite dogmas being accepted even when they are contrary to science. This is foolishness, for it is quite evident that science is the light, and being so, religion truly so-called does not oppose knowledge. We are familiar with the phrases ‘Light and Darkness’, ‘Religion and Science’. But the religion which does not walk hand in hand with science is itself in the darkness of superstition and ignorance. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 143-44
Science Is Reason And Knowledge
The third Tajalli is concerning arts, crafts and sciences. Knowledge is as wings to man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words. Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the peoples of the world…. In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, pp. 51-52
Religion and science are the two wings upon which man’s intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress. It is not possible to fly with one wing alone! Should a man try to fly with the wing of religion alone he would quickly fall into the quagmire of superstition, whilst on the other hand, with the wing of science alone he would also make no progress, but fall into the despairing slough of materialism. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 143
Any religious belief which is not comfortable with scientific proof and investigation is superstition, for true science is reason and reality, and religion is essentially reality and pure reason; therefore the two must correspond. Religious teaching which is at variance with science and reason is human invention and imagination unworthy of acceptance, for the antithesis and opposite of knowledge is superstition born of the ignorance of man. If we say religion is opposed to science we either lack knowledge of true science or true religion, for both are founded upon the premises and conclusions of reason and both must bear its test. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 103
Another cause of dissension and disagreement is the fact that religion has been pronounced at variance with science. Between scientists and the followers of religion there has always been controversy and strife for the reason that the latter have proclaimed religion superior in authority to science and considered scientific announcement opposed to the teachings of religion. Bahá’u’lláh declared that religion is in complete harmony with science and reason. If religious belief and doctrine is at variance with reason, it proceeds from the limited mind of man and not from God; therefore, it is unworthy of belief and not deserving of attention; the heart finds no rest in it, and real faith is impossible. How can man believe that which he knows to be opposed to reason? Is this possible? Can the heart accept that which reason denies? Reason is the first faculty of man, and the religion of God is in harmony with it. Bahá’u’lláh has removed this form of dissension and discord from among mankind and reconciled science with religion by revealing the pure teachings of the divine reality. This accomplishment is specialized to Him in this Day. – `Abdu’l‑Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 231
Science must be accepted. No one truth can contradict another truth. Light is good in whatsoever lamp it is burning! A rose is beautiful in whatsoever garden it may bloom! A star has the same radiance if it shines from the East or from the West. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 137
Future Unity Of Mankind Depends On Harmony Of Religion And Science
Much of the discord and disunion of the world is created by these man-made oppositions and contradictions. If religion were in harmony with science and they walked together, much of the hatred and bitterness now bringing misery to the human race would be at an end. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 144
Put all your beliefs into harmony with science; there can be no opposition, for truth is one. When religion, shorn of its superstitions, traditions, and unintelligent dogmas, shows its conformity with science, then will there be a great unifying, cleansing force in the world which will sweep before it all wars, disagreements, discords and struggles – and then will mankind be united in the power of the Love of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 146
Paris Talks, Abdu’l-Baha
The Promulgation of Universal Peace, Abdu’l-Baha
Foundations of World Unity, Abdu’l-Baha
The Secret of Divine Civilization, Abdu’l-Baha
Baha’u’llah and the New Era, J.E. Esslemont
Science and Technology for Human Advancement, BIC Document #79‑0820, Bahá’í International Community United Nations Office
Soul. The immortal part of man, as distinguished from his body; the moral and emotional nature of man, as distinguished from his mind; the vital principle which moves and animates all life. – New Websters Dictionary
Soul. The spiritual part of a human being. – Canadian Oxford Dictionary
Thou hast asked Me concerning the nature of the soul. Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. It is the first among all created things to declare the excellence of its Creator, the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth, and to bow down in adoration before Him. If it be faithful to God, it will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return to Him. If it fail, however, in its allegiance to its Creator, it will become a victim to self and passion, and will, in the end, sink in their depths. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, LXXXII, pp. 158-59
Scientific philosophy has demonstrated that a simple element (‘simple’ meaning ‘not composed’) is indestructible, eternal. The soul, not being a composition of elements, is, in character, as a simple element, and therefore cannot cease to exist. The soul, being of that one indivisible substance, can suffer neither disintegration nor destruction, therefore there is no reason for its coming to an end…. – Abdu’l-Baha, “The Evolution of the Spirit”, Paris Talks, p. 91
The soul that with a strong and constant calm
Takes sorrow and takes joy indifferently,
Lives in the life undying! That which is
Can never cease to be; that which is not
Will not exist. – HinduText from the Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter II
Know thou that every soul is fashioned after the nature of God, each being pure and holy at his birth. Afterwards, however, the individuals will vary according to what they acquire of virtues or vices in this world…. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 190
When the human soul soareth out of this transient heap of dust and riseth into the world of God, then veils will fall away, and verities will come to light, and all things unknown before will be made clear, and hidden truths be understood.
Consider how a being, in the world of the womb, was deaf of ear and blind of eye, and mute of tongue; how he was bereft of any perceptions at all. But once, out of that world of darkness, he passed into this world of light, then his eye saw, his ear heard, his tongue spoke. In the same way, once he hath hastened away from this mortal place into the Kingdom of God, then he will be born in the spirit; then the eye of his perception will open, the ear of his soul will hearken, and all the truths of which he was ignorant before will be made plain and clear. – `Abdu’l‑Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l‑Baha, p. 177
It is through the power of the soul that the mind comprehendeth, imagineth and exerteth its influence, whilst the soul is a power that is free. The mind comprehendeth the abstract by the aid of the concrete, but the soul hath limitless manifestations of its own. The mind is circumscribed, the soul limitless. – `Abdu’l‑Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 337
The Holy Spirit it is, which, through the mediation of the Prophets of God, teaches spiritual virtues to man and enables him to attain Eternal life. It is evident that the souls receive grace from the bounty of the Holy Spirit which appears in the Manifestations of God, and not from the personality of the Manifestation. – Abdu’l‑Bahá, The Divine Art of Living, p. 43
Thou didst write of afflictive tests that have assailed thee. To the loyal soul, a test is but God’s grace and favour; for the valiant doth joyously press forward to furious battle on the field of anguish, when the coward, whimpering with fright, will tremble and shake. So too, the proficient student, who hath with great competence mastered his subjects and committed them to memory, will happily exhibit his skills before his examiners on the day of his tests. So too will solid gold wondrously gleam and shine out in the assayer’s fire. It is clear, then, that tests and trials are, for sanctified souls, but God’s bounty and grace, while to the weak, they are a calamity, unexpected and sudden. – `Abdu’l‑Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l‑Baha, p. 181-82
O My servants! Could ye apprehend with what wonders of My munificence and bounty I have willed to entrust your souls, ye would, of a truth, rid yourselves of attachment to all created things, and would gain a true knowledge of your own selves – a knowledge which is the same as the comprehension of Mine own Being. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, CLIII, p. 325
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? – Matthew, Chapter 16, Verse 26
As to the soul of man after death, it remains in the degree of purity to which it has evolved during life in the physical body, and after it is freed from the body it remains plunged in the ocean of God’s Mercy. – Abdu’l‑Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 66
Recommended Reading for additional information on the theme of the Nature of the Soul
The Prophets of God … have laid the foundation of the oneness of God and summoned all to universal peace. All these holy, divine Manifestations are one. They have served one God, promulgated the same truth, … and reflected the same light. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 151
… all the Prophets are the Temples of the Cause of God. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, XXII, pp. 51-52
The door of the knowledge of the Ancient Being [God] hath ever been, and will continue for ever to be, closed in the face of men…. As a token of His mercy, however, and as a proof of His loving-kindness, He hath manifested unto men the Day Stars of His divine guidance, the Symbols of His divine unity, and hath ordained the knowledge of these sanctified Beings to be identical with the knowledge of His own Self. Whoso recognizeth them hath recognized God. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings, XXI, p. 49
These Manifestations of God have each a two-fold station. One is the station of pure abstraction and essential unity. In this respect, if thou callest them all by one name, and dost ascribe to them the same attributes, thou hast not erred from the truth…. For they, one and all, summon the people of the earth to acknowledge the unity of God…. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings, XXII, pp. 50-51
… The other station is the station of distinction, and pertaineth to the world of creation…. In this respect, each Manifestation of God hath a distinct individuality, a definitely prescribed mission, a predestined revelation…. Each one of them is known by a different name, … and is entrusted with a particular Revelation. – Ibid., p. 50
Further, We sent a long line of prophets for your instruction. We sent Noah to his people. He said: “O my people! worship God! Ye have no other god but Him. Will ye not fear Him? The chiefs of the Unbelievers among his people said: “He is no more than a man like yourselves: his wish is to assert his superiority over you: if God had wished to send messengers, He could have sent down angels; never did we hear such a thing (as he says), among our ancestors of old.” – Mohammed, The Qur’an, Surah 23: 23 and 23:24
Recommended Reading for additional information on the theme of the Oneness of the Prophets of God
The Kitab-i-Iqan (The Book of Certitude) by Baha’u’llah
The Qur’an by Muhammad
Paris Talks by Abdu’l-Baha
Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha by Abdu’l-Baha
“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” – Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “The Passing of Arthur,” Idylls of the King
“In A.A. we have found that the actual good results of prayer are beyond question. They are matters of knowledge and experience. All those who have persisted have found strength not ordinarily their own. They have found wisdom beyond their usual capability. And they have increasingly found a peace of mind which can stand firm in the face of difficult circumstances.” – Bill W., Came to Believe, p. 19
What is Prayer?
“The traditions established the fact that in all Dispensations the law of prayer hath constituted a fundamental element of the Revelation of all the Prophets of God.” – Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 39
“ And prayer is more than an order of words, the conscious occupation of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.” – T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding,” Four Quartets
“ The state of prayer is the best of conditions, for man is then associating with God. Prayer verily bestoweth life, particularly when offered in private and at times, such as midnight, when freed from daily cares.” – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 202
Prayer is a ladder by which everyone may ascend to Heaven. – Muhammad, cited in Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 88
“Prayer is conversation with God.” – Abdu’l-Baha, cited in Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 88
The wisdom of prayer is this: That it causeth a connection between the servant and the True One, because in that state man with all heart and soul turneth his face towards His Highness the Almighty, seeking His association and desiring His love and compassion. – Abdul’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 368
Why do we pray?
“Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn night unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men.” – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, CXXXVI, p. 294
“Know thou, verily, it is becoming in a weak one to supplicate to the Strong One, and it behooveth a seeker of bounty to beseech the Glorious Bountiful One. When one supplicates to his Lord, turns to Him and seeks bounty from His Ocean, this supplication brings light to his heart, illumination to his sight, life to his soul and exaltation to his being.
“During thy supplications to God and thy reciting, “Thy Name is my healing,” consider how thine heart is cheered, thy soul delighted by the spirit of the love of God, and thy mind attracted to the Kingdom of God! By these attractions one’s ability and capacity increase. When the vessel is enlarged the water increases, and when the thirst grows the bounty of the cloud becomes agreeable to the taste of man. This is the mystery of supplication and the wisdom of stating one’s wants.” – Abdu’l-Baha, cited in Baha’u’llah and the New Era, pp. 92-93
Remembrance of God is like the rain and dew which bestow freshness and grace on flowers and hyacinths, revive them and cause them to acquire fragrance, redolence and renewed charm.” – Abdu’l-Baha, cited in Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude, p. 13
“If one friend loves another, is it not natural that he should wish to say so? Though he knows that the friend is aware of his love, does he still not wish to tell him of it? … It is true that God knows the wishes of all hearts; but the impulse to pray is a natural one, springing from man’s love to God.” – Abdu’l-Baha, cited in Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 94
How should we pray?
“… Pride not yourselves on much reading of the verses or on a multitude of pious acts by night and day; for were a man to read a single verse with joy and radiance it would be better for him than to read with lassitude all the Holy Books of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Read ye the sacred verses in such measure that ye be not overcome by languor and despondency. Lay not upon your souls that which will weary them and weight them down, but rather what will lighten and uplift them, so that they may soar on the wings of the Divine verses towards the Dawning-place of His manifest signs; this will draw you nearer to God, did ye but comprehend.” – Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Paragraph 149
“The most acceptable prayer is the one offered with the utmost spirituality and radiance; its prolongation hath not been and is not beloved by God. The more detached and the purer the prayer, the more acceptable is it in the presence of God.” – The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 77
“A short prayer pierceth heaven”. – St. Augustine, cited in Prayer: A Baha’i Approach, p. 20
“The reason why privacy hath been enjoined in moments of devotion is this, that thou mayest give their best attention to the remembrance of God, that thy heart may at all times be animated with His Spirit …. Let not thy tongue pay lip service in praise of God while thy heart be not attuned to the exalted Summit of Glory, and the Focal Point of communication.” – The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 93
“Prayer need not be in words, but rather in thought and action. But if this love and this desire are lacking, it is useless to try to force them. Words without love mean nothing. If a person talks to you as an unpleasant duty, finding neither love nor enjoyment in the meeting, do you wish to converse with him?” – Abdu’l-Baha, cited in Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 94
What can we pray for?
“It behoveth the servant to pray to and seek assistance from God, and to supplicate and implore His aid.” – Abdu’l-Baha, cited in Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude, p. 14
“O handmaid of God! Prayers are granted through the universal Manifestations of God. Nevertheless, where the wish is to obtain material things, even where the heedless are concerned, if they supplicated, humbly imploring God’s help – even their prayer hath an effect…. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 161
“It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents. Thereupon God’s call will be raised: “Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense!” Blessed is he who remembereth his parents when communing with God. – The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 94
Can we expect our prayers to be answered?
“What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall receive them.” – Mark, Chapter 11:24
“Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth.” – Matthew, Chapter 7:8
But we ask for things which the divine wisdom does not desire for us, and there is no answer to our prayer. His wisdom does not sanction what we wish. We pray, “O God! Make me wealthy!” If this prayer were universally answered, human affairs would be at a standstill. There would be none left to work in the streets, none to till the soil, none to build, none to run the trains. Therefore, it is evident that it would not be well for us if all prayers were answered. The affairs of the world would be interfered with, energies crippled and progress hindered. But whatever we ask for which is in accord with divine wisdom, God will answer. Assuredly!” – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 247
When should we pray?
“Recite ye the verses of God every morn and eventide.” – Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, P. 149
“These children are even as young plants, and teaching them the prayers is as letting the rain pour down upon them, that they may wax tender and fresh, and the soft breezes of the love of God may blow over them, making them to tremble with joy.” – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 115
Recommended Reading for additional information on the theme of Prayer:
Baha’u’llah and the New Era, by J.E. Esslemont
Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude, compiled by the Universal House of Justice
Prayer: A Baha’i Approach, by William & Madeline Hellaby
Came to Believe: The spiritual adventure of A.A. as experienced by individual members