|According to the
words of the Old Testament God has said, "Let us make man in our image, after our
likeness. "This indicates that man is of the image and likeness of God -- that is to
say, the perfections of God, the divine virtues, are reflected or revealed in the human
reality. Just as the light and effulgence of the sun when cast upon a polished mirror are
reflected fully, gloriously, so, likewise, the qualities and attributes of Divinity are
radiated from the depths of a pure human heart. This is an evidence that man is the most
noble of God's creatures...
us now discover more specifically how he is the image and likeness of God and what is the
standard or criterion by which he can be measured and estimated. This standard can be no
other that the divine virtues which are revealed in him. Therefore, every man imbued with
divine qualities, who reflects heavenly moralities and perfections, who is the expression
of ideal and praiseworthy attributes, is, verily, in the image and likeness of God. If a
man possesses wealth, can we call him an image and likeness of God? Or is human honor and
notoriety the criterion of divine nearness? Can we apply the test of racial color and say
that man of a certain hue -- white, black, brown, yellow, red -- is the true image of his
Creator? We must conclude that color is not the standard and estimate of judgement and
that it is of no importance, for color is accidental in nature. The spirit and
intelligence of man is essential.... Therefore, be it known that color or race is of no
importance. He who is the image and likeness of God, who is the manifestation of the
bestowals of God, is acceptable at the threshold of God -- whether his color be white,
black or brown; it matters not. Man is not man simply because of bodily attributes. The
standard of divine measure and judgement is his intelligence and spirit....
A man's heart may be pure and white though
his outer skin be black; or his heart be dark and sinful though his racial color is white.
The character and purity of the heart is of all importance.
-- Excerpts from a talk given by `Abdu'l-Bahá
at the Fourth Annual Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People, 30 April 1912, Handel Hall, Chicago, Illinois.