Bahá’í Principles

Search for Truth

“The first principle of Bahá’u’lláh. is:spring sunset

The Search for Truth.

Man must cut himself free from all prejudice and from the result of his own imagination, so that he may be able to search for truth unhindered. Truth is one in all religions, and by means of it the unity of the world can be realized.

All the peoples have a fundamental belief in common. Being one, truth cannot be divided, and the differences that appear to exist among the nations only result from their attachment to prejudice. If only men would search out truth, they would find themselves united.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks 1911-12, p. 131

 

Unity of Mankind

A group of Bahá’í youth, from a diverse range of countries, serving as volunteer staff at the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa, Israel, 2004. © Bahá’í International Community

“The second principle of Bahá’u’lláh is:

The Unity of Mankind.

The one all-loving God bestows His divine Grace and Favour on all mankind; one and all are servants of the Most High, and His Goodness, Mercy and loving Kindness are showered upon all His creatures. The glory of humanity is the heritage of each one.

All men are the leaves and fruit of one same tree, they are all branches of the tree of Adam, they all have the same origin. The same rain has fallen upon them all, the same warm sun makes them grow, they are all refreshed by the same breeze. The only differences that exist and that keep them apart are these: there are the children who need guidance, the ignorant to be instructed, the sick to be tended and healed; thus, I say that the whole of humanity is enveloped by the Mercy and Grace of God. As the Holy Writings tell us: All men are equal before God.”
—‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks 1911-12, pp. 131 – 132

“When you love a member of your family or a compatriot, let it be with a ray of the Infinite Love! Let it be in God, and for God! Wherever you find the attributes of God love that person, whether he be of your family or of another. Shed the light of a boundless love on every human being whom you meet, whether of your country, your race, your political party, or of any other nation, colour or shade of political opinion. Heaven will support you while you work in this in-gathering of the scattered peoples of the world beneath the shadow of the almighty tent of unity.”
—‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 38

“A fundamental teaching of Bahá’u’lláh is the oneness of the world of humanity. Addressing mankind, He says: “Ye are all leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch.” By this it is meant that the world of humanity is like a tree, the nations or peoples are the different limbs or branches of that tree and the individual human creatures are as the fruits and blossoms thereof. In this way His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh expressed the oneness of humankind whereas in all religious teachings of the past, the human world has been represented as divided into two parts, one known as the people of the Book of God or the pure tree and the other the people of infidelity and error or the evil tree. The former were considered as belonging to the faithful and the others to the hosts of the irreligious and infidel; one part of humanity the recipients of divine mercy and the other the object of the wrath of their Creator. His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh removed this by proclaiming the oneness of the world of humanity and this principle is specialized in His teachings for He has submerged all mankind in the sea of divine generosity. Some are asleep; they need to be awakened. Some are ailing; they need to be healed. Some are immature as children; they need to be trained. But all are recipients of the bounty and bestowals of God.”
—‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith —‘Abdu’l-Bahá Section, p. 246

 

Unity of Religion

“The third principle of Bahá’u’lláh is:The sky. Sunrise

Religion should be the Cause of Love and Affection.

Religion should unite all hearts and cause wars and disputes to vanish from the face of the earth, give birth to spirituality, and bring life and light to each heart. If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division, it were better to be without it, and to withdraw from such a religion would be a truly religious act. For it is clear that the purpose of a remedy is to cure; but if the remedy should only aggravate the complaint it had better be left alone. Any religion which is not a cause of love and unity is no religion. All the holy prophets were as doctors to the soul; they gave prescriptions for the healing of mankind; thus any remedy that causes disease does not come from the great and supreme Physician.”
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks 1911-12, pp. 132 – 133

“It is clear and evident to thee that all the Prophets are the Temples of the Cause of God, Who have appeared clothed in divers attire. If thou wilt observe with discriminating eyes, thou wilt behold Them all abiding in the same tabernacle, soaring in the same heaven, seated upon the same throne, uttering the same speech, and proclaiming the same Faith. Such is the unity of those Essences of Being, those Luminaries of infinite and immeasurable splendor! . . .

The other station is the station of distinction, and pertaineth to the world of creation, and to the limitations thereof. In this respect, each Manifestation of God hath a distinct individuality, a definitely prescribed mission, a predestined revelation, and specially designated limitations. Each one of them is known by a different name, is characterized by a special attribute, fulfils a definite mission, and is entrusted with a particular Revelation. . . .

It is because of this difference in their station and mission that the words and utterances flowing from these Well Springs of Divine knowledge appear to diverge and differ.”
—Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 51

The full text of a letter of The Universal House of Justice, addressed To The World’s Religious Leaders may be read here.

 

Unity of Science and Religion

“The fourth principle of Bahá’u’lláh is:iStock_000010062436XSmall

The Unity of Religion and Science.

We may think of science as one wing and religion as the other; a bird needs two wings for flight, one alone would be useless. Any religion that contradicts science or that is opposed to it, is only ignorance — for ignorance is the opposite of knowledge.

Religion which consists only of rites and ceremonies of prejudice is not the truth. Let us earnestly endeavour to be the means of uniting religion and science.

‘Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, said: ‘That which is in conformity with science is also in conformity with religion’. 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-Bahá, Paris Talks 1911-12, p. 133

“The virtues of humanity are many, but science is the most noble of them all. The distinction which man enjoys above and beyond the station of the animal is due to this paramount virtue. It is a bestowal of God; it is not material; it is divine. Science is an effulgence of the Sun of Reality, the power of investigating and discovering the verities of the universe, the means by which man finds a pathway to God. All the powers and attributes of man are human and hereditary in origin — outcomes of nature’s processes — except the intellect, which is supernatural. Through intellectual and intelligent inquiry science is the discoverer of all things. It unites present and past, reveals the history of bygone nations and events, and confers upon man today the essence of all human knowledge and attainment throughout the ages. By intellectual processes and logical deductions of reason this superpower in man can penetrate the mysteries of the future and anticipate its happenings.

Science is the first emanation from God toward man. All created beings embody the potentiality of material perfection, but the power of intellectual investigation and scientific acquisition is a higher virtue specialized to man alone. Other beings and organisms are deprived of this potentiality and attainment. God has created or deposited this love of reality in man. The development and progress of a nation is according to the measure and degree of that nation’s scientific attainments. Through this means its greatness is continually increased, and day by day the welfare and prosperity of its people are assured.

All blessings are divine in origin, but none can be compared with this power of intellectual investigation and research, which is an eternal gift producing fruits of unending delight. Man is ever partaking of these fruits. All other blessings are temporary; this is an everlasting possession. Even sovereignty has its limitations and overthrow; this is a kingship and dominion which none may usurp or destroy. Briefly, it is an eternal blessing and divine bestowal, the supreme gift of God to man. Therefore, you should put forward your most earnest efforts toward the acquisition of science and arts.”
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 49

 

Elimination of Prejudice

“The fifth principle of Bahá’u’lláh is:Flags of different countries

Prejudices of Religion, Race or Sect destroy the foundation of Humanity.

All the divisions in the world, hatred, war and bloodshed, are caused by one or other of these prejudices.

The whole world must be looked upon as one single country, all the nations as one nation, all men as belonging to one race. Religions, races, and nations are all divisions of man’s making only, and are necessary only in his thought; before God there are neither Persians, Arabs, French nor English; God is God for all, and to Him all creation is one. We must obey God, and strive to follow Him by leaving all our prejudices and bringing about peace on earth.”
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks 1911-12, p. 134

More on the elimination of prejudice may be read here.

 

Eliminate Extremes of Wealth & Poverty

“The sixth principle of Bahá’u’lláh is:Box of vegetables

Equal opportunity of the means of Existence.

Every human being has the right to live; they have a right to rest, and to a certain amount of well-being. As a rich man is able to live in his palace surrounded by luxury and the greatest comfort, so should a poor man be able to have the necessaries of life. Nobody should die of hunger; everybody should have sufficient clothing; one man should not live in excess while another has no possible means of existence.

Let us try with all the strength we have to bring about happier conditions, so that no single soul may be destitute.”
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks 1911-12, pp. 134 – 135

The full text of “The Prosperity of Humankind,” a statement prepared by the Bahá’í International Community Office of Public Information, Haifa, may be read here.

The Bahá’í-inspired Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity statement on “Science, Religion and Development” may be read here.

 

Equality Before the Law

“The seventh principle of Bahá’u’lláh is:

Congressional briefing on international justice

The Equality of Men — equality before the Law.

The Law must reign, and not the individual; thus will the world become a place of beauty and true brotherhood will be realized. Having attained solidarity, men will have found truth.”
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks 1911-12, p. 135

 

Universal Peace

United Nations session

The United Nations is a step toward peace.

“The eighth principle of Bahá’u’lláh is:

Universal Peace.

A Supreme Tribunal shall be elected by the peoples and governments of every nation, where members from each country and government shall assemble in unity. All disputes shall be brought before this Court, its mission being to prevent war.”
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks 1911-12, p. 135

“The human race, as a distinct, organic unit, has passed through evolutionary stages analogous to the stages of infancy and childhood in the lives of its individual members, and is now in the culminating period of its turbulent adolescence approaching its long-awaited coming of age.”

—The Promise of World Peace

The full text of the letter “The Promise of World Peace” from the Universal House of Justice, addressed to the Peoples of the World, may be read here.

 

Religion is for Spiritual Progress

“The ninth principle of Bahá’u’lláh is:Symbols of the world's religions

That Religion should not concern itself with Political Questions.

Religion is concerned with things of the spirit, politics with things of the world. Religion has to work with the world of thought, whilst the field of politics lies with the world of external conditions.”
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks 1911-12, p. 136

The statement “Reflections on Governance” may be read here.

 

Women Have Equal Rights

“The tenth principle of Bahá’u’lláh is:Haleh and Vida Chapman

Education and Instruction of Women.

Women have equal rights with men upon earth; in religion and society they are a very important element. As long as women are prevented from attaining their highest possibilities, so long will men be unable to achieve the greatness which might be theirs.”
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks 1911-12, p. 136

“In the world of humanity we find a great difference; the female sex is treated as though inferior, and is not allowed equal rights and privileges. This condition is due not to nature, but to education. In the Divine Creation there is no such distinction. Neither sex is superior to the other in the sight of God. Why then should one sex assert the inferiority of the other, withholding just rights and privileges as though God had given His authority for such a course of action? If women received the same educational advantages as those of men, the result would demonstrate the equality of capacity of both for scholarship.”
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 161)

The statement “Two Wings of a Bird” may be read here.
“Advancing Toward the Equality of Women and Men” may be read here.
“Toward Prosperity: The Role of Women and Men in Building a Flourishing World Civilization” may be read here.

 

Spiritual Development

“The eleventh principle of Bahá’u’lláh is:

The Power of the Holy Spirit, by which alone Spiritual Development is achieved.

It is only by the breath of the Holy Spirit that spiritual development can come about. No matter how the material world may progress, no matter how splendidly it may adorn itself, it can never be anything but a lifeless body unless the soul is within, for it is the soul that animates the body; the body alone has no real significance. Deprived of the blessings of the Holy Spirit the material body would be inert.

Here are, very briefly explained, some of the principles of Bahá’u’lláh.

In short, it behoves us all to be lovers of truth. Let us seek her in every season and in every country, being careful never to attach ourselves to personalities. Let us see the light wherever it shines, and may we be enabled to recognize the light of truth no matter where it may arise. Let us inhale the perfume of the rose from the midst of thorns which surround it; let us drink the running water from every pure spring.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks 1911-12, p. 136

“We must find a way of spreading love among the sons of humanity.
Love is unlimited, boundless, infinite! Material things are limited, circumscribed, finite. You cannot adequately express infinite love by limited means.
The perfect love needs an unselfish instrument, absolutely freed from fetters of every kind. The love of family is limited; the tie of blood relationship is not the strongest bond. Frequently members of the same family disagree, and even hate each other.
Patriotic love is finite; the love of one’s country causing hatred of all others, is not perfect love! Compatriots also are not free from quarrels amongst themselves.
The love of race is limited; there is some union here, but that is insufficient. Love must be free from boundaries!
To love our own race may mean hatred of all others, and even people of the same race often dislike each other.
Political love also is much bound up with hatred of one party for another; this love is very limited and uncertain.
The love of community of interest in service is likewise fluctuating; frequently competitions arise, which lead to jealousy, and at length hatred replaces love. . . .
All these ties of love are imperfect. It is clear that limited material ties are insufficient to adequately express the universal love.
The great unselfish love for humanity is bounded by none of these imperfect, semi-selfish bonds; this is the one perfect love, possible to all mankind, and can only be achieved by the power of the Divine Spirit. No worldly power can accomplish the universal love.
Let all be united in this Divine power of love! Let all strive to grow in the light of the Sun of Truth, and reflecting this luminous love on all men, may their hearts become so united that they may dwell evermore in the radiance of the limitless love.”
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 36