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Notes:
Cited in a letter, dated April, 2001, from the Secretariat of Universal House of Justice to an individual believer; [Full letter online at bahai-library.com/uhj_takfir].
Posted with permission of recipient.

Treatise on Leadership:
Extracts

by Abdu'l-Bahá

translated by Bahá'í World Centre.
2001-04
originally written as "Risáliy-i-Síyásíyyih".
Human society is by nature in need of binding rules and relationships, for otherwise it would not experience peace and protection, nor enjoy happiness and security. Without them, the sacred glory of the human condition would not be unveiled and the desire of all hearts would remain unrealized. The country would not prosper, and its cities and villages would not find order and arrangement.

   The duty of the doctors and divines is, however, to attend to the matters of the spirit and to promote the attributes of the All-Merciful. Whenever the leaders of God's glorious Religion and the pillars of His mighty Law have intervened in political affairs, and designed schemes and devised plans, it hath inevitably shattered the unity of the believers and scattered the ranks of the faithful; the flame of sedition hath been kindled and the fire of hostility hath consumed the world; the country hath been pillaged and plundered; and the people have fallen into the hands of the mediocre.

   Were ye to refer to history, ye would find countless similar instances, each and all due to the interference of religious leaders in political affairs. These souls are meant to issue the ordinances of God, not to enforce them. That is, whenever the government inquireth of them, in matters of greater or lesser consequence, concerning the exigencies of the law of God and the true purport of His ordinances, they should set forth that which hath been deduced from His laws and is consonant with His religion. Beyond this, what can they know of political matters, of the protection of the subjects, the management of important affairs, the welfare and prosperity of the nation, the administration of the laws and statutes of the realm, and of internal and external issues?

   Observe that both this blessed verse and explicit tradition are absolute and universal in their purport, not conditional or confined to a specific case. As to the true leaders of religion and the favoured servants of the celestial Threshold, their rank and station is that of spiritual honour and majesty, and their prerogative the vicegerency of the All-Merciful Lord. Their crown of glory is the dust of the pathway of God, and their resplendent diadem the light of the bestowals of the Almighty. Their throne of justice is established upon the hearts, and their exalted and glorious honour is the seat of truth in the realm of the Kingdom. They are the monarchs of the realms of heart and soul, not of the world of water and clay, and the sovereign lords of the lands of the placeless, not of the narrow straits of this contingent world. And none can ever usurp or deny this sublime station and ancient glory.

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