|The idea that all humanity is one
race forms the foundation for the other principles of social justice in the Bahá'í
Faith. Bahá'u'lláh condemned racial and ethnic prejudice, urging:
"Close your eyes to racial differences, and welcome all with
the light of oneness."
and men have been and will always be equal in the sight of God." -- Bahá'u'lláh
Bahá'u'lláh also unequivocally
proclaimed the equality of the sexes--at a time when the women's movement was only
beginning its fight for suffrage in the West and such ideas were unheard of in the Middle
East--thus becoming the first Founder of a world religion to explicitly uphold strict
equality for women and men.
Indeed, girls should receive priority in education--if by
some circumstance a family (or a society) cannot afford to educate its children equally. "Until the reality of equality between men and women is fully
established and attained, the highest social development of mankind is not possible,"
the Bahá'í scriptures state.
"He Who is your lord, the All-Merciful, cherisheth in His heart
the desire of beholding the entire human race as one soul and one body." --
This challenge to full equality does not ignore natural
differences between the sexes. Bahá'u'lláh emphasized the
importance of motherhood, fatherhood and family life.
Bahá'u'lláh's call for economic justice also reflects His
central theme of human oneness. He wrote extensively about the necessity of promoting
economic justice and proposed specific remedies to help control the extreme inequalities
of wealth in human society. The redistribution of wealth through a tax on income, for
example, and the concept of profit-sharing are both promoted in His teachings.
Education is given a special emphasis as humanity is
considered capable of tremendous progress and advancement. "Regard
man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value," wrote Bahá'u'lláh. "Education can,
alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom."
Education, accordingly, should be universal and should
incorporate positive spiritual values and moral attitudes. Bahá'ís envision a future in
which even "basic education" goes beyond rote learning and the teaching of
simple skills. Students must be given the tools to analyze social conditions and
requirements themselves, to take part in community planning and action, and to investigate
truth on their own. The oneness of humanity is an essential element of every Bahá'í
Science and Religion
The theme of unity
also emerges in Bahá'u'lláh's teachings on science. His writings portray science and
religion as different yet harmonious approaches to the comprehension of reality. These two
paths are essentially compatible and mutually reinforcing.
Scientific method is humanity's
tool for understanding the physical side of the universe. It can describe the composition
of an atomic nucleus or the molecular structure of DNA. It is the key to new technologies.
Science cannot, however, guide us in the use of such knowledge. The revelation of God
offers to humanity a basis for values and purpose. It provides answers to those questions
of morals, human purpose, and our relationship to God that science cannot approach.
investigation of reality, whether scientific or religious, is strongly encouraged in
Bahá'u'lláh's writings. Individuals should strive, He said, to free themselves from
prejudices, preconceptions and reliance on tradition or traditional authorities.
Consultation is a critical tool for discovering truth. [See page 43]. Bahá'u'lláh
also called for the adoption of a universal auxiliary language as a means to promote
unity. "The day is approaching when all the peoples of
the world will have adopted one universal language and one common script," He wrote.
"When this is achieved, to whatsoever city a man may journey, it shall be as if he
were entering his own home." The term
"auxiliary" is important: Bahá'u'lláh's injuction is not a mandate for
cultural uniformity. Indeed, the Bahá'í teachings both value and promote cultural
When first outlined by Bahá'u'lláh
more than 100 years ago, these principles were as radical as any social program ever
drafted. The fact that they have not only borne the passage of time, but, indeed, become
ever more widely proclaimed and recognized is a testimony to the vision that produced
Bahá'u'lláh's moral code for the
individual, and His pattern for marriage and family life [see page 30], are wholly consonant with
the genuine needs of modern society. As with the social principles, the laws of Bahá'u'lláh on individual morality and family structure are aimed at
the promotion of unity and well-being for society at large. "They
whom God hath endued with insight will readily recognize that the precepts laid down by
God constitute the highest means for the maintenance of order in the world and the
security of its peoples," Bahá'u'lláh wrote.
"The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable
unless and until its unity is firmly established" --Bahá'u'lláh
This insight--that the standards for social
justice and individual conduct outlined by Bahá'u'lláh offer an
integrated and distinctive approach to the apparently intractable problems faced by
humanity today--underlies the essential optimism of the worldwide Bahá'í community.
Whether considering the threat of environmental degradation, the cancer of racism, or the
erosion of the family, Bahá'ís believe firmly that answers are available in the writings
of Bahá'u'lláh. Their commitment is to share these insights with