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LESSON II
JUSTICE AND MERCY

Know that to do justice is to give to everyone according to his deserts. For example, when a workman labours from morning until evening, justice requires that he shall be paid his wages; but when he has done no work and taken no trouble, he is given a gift, this is bounty.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, SAQ, p. 266

... bounty is giving without desert, and justice is giving what is deserved..

'Abdu'l-Bahá, SAQ, p. 232

... judged with justice, meaning ... to receive that which they deserve.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, SAQ, p. 59

The just act is the due act; justice is fulfillment of obligation.... This passes over into fairness, equity, impartiality, honesty in all one's dealings with others ... Since Aristotle's time ... this has been divided into (i) the distributive ... and (ii) the corrective.
... charity was doing good in ways not obligatory or strictly exacted. Hence it was a source of peculiar merit in the doer.

John Dewey, Ethics, 1st Ed., pp. 414, 416

Love is the standard which must govern the conduct of one believer towards another. The administrative order does not change this, but unfortunately sometimes the friends confuse the two, and try to be a whole spiritual assembly to each other, with the discipline and justice and impartiality that body must show, instead of being forgiving, loving, and patient to each other as individuals.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, LOG, p. 404

The greatest need it seems everywhere inside the Cause is to impress upon the friends the need for love among them. There is a tendency to mix up the functions of the Administration and try to apply it in individual relationships, which is abortive, because the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the Teachings, the affairs of the community. But individuals toward each other are governed by love, unity, forgiveness and a sin-covering eye. Once the friends grasp this they will get along much better, but they keep playing Spiritual Assembly to each other and expect the Assembly to behave like an individual.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, LOG, p. 77

... it should be realized that there is a distinction drawn in the Faith between the attitudes which should characterize individuals in their relationship to other people, namely, loving forgiveness, forbearance, and concern with one's own sins, not the sins of others, and those attitudes which should be shown by the Spiritual Assemblies, whose duty is to administer the law of God with justice.

Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice, p. 110

It is a common notion that justice is harsh or hard in its workings, and that it requires to be supplemented, if not replaced, by mercy. Taken literally this would mean that justice is not just in its workings. The truth contained is that what is frequently regarded as justice is not justice, but an imperfect substitute for it.

John Dewey, Ethics, 1st edn., p. 415


MERCY

But the lack of capacity and merit in the Day of Judgment does not prevent one from bounty and generosity, for it is the day of grace and not justice, and to give every one his due is justice. Consequently, do not look upon thy capacity, nay, rather, look upon the infinite grace of the Bounty of Abhá whose grace is comprehending and whose bounty is perfect.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, TAB, Vol. II, p. 243

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

Jesus Christ, Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:44

If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, PUP, 2nd ed., p. 453


LIMITATIONS ON MERCY

If a person commit a crime* against you, you have not the right to forgive him.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 154
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* crime a: an act ... that is forbidden ... by a public law of a sovereign state and that makes the offender liable to punishment by that law in a proceeding brought against him by the state ... an offense against public law (as a misdemeanour, felony ...) providing a penalty ...
     b: an offense against the social order ... that is dealt with by community action rather than by an individual....
Merriam-Webster unabridged, 1971

If the community and the inheritors of the murdered one were to forgive and return good for evil, the cruel would be continually ill-treating others, and assassinations would continually occur. Vicious people, like wolves, would destroy the sheep of God.... So if, at present, the law of pardon were practiced in all countries, in a short time the world would be disordered, and the foundations of human life would crumble. For example, if the governments of Europe had not withstood the notorious Attila, he would not have left a single living man.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, SAQ, pp. 269-270

The canopy of existence resteth upon the pole of justice, and not of forgiveness, and the life of mankind dependeth on justice and not on forgiveness.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in ADJ, p. 28

The foundation of the Kingdom of God is laid upon justice, fairness, mercy, sympathy and kindness to every soul. Then strive ye with heart and soul to practice love and kindness to the world of humanity at large, except to those souls who are selfish and insincere. It is not advisable to show kindness to a person who is a tyrant, a traitor or a thief because kindness encourages him to become worse and does not awaken him. The more kindness you show to a liar the more he is apt to lie, for he thinks that you know not, while you do know, but extreme kindness keeps you from revealing your knowledge.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, BWF, pp. 412-413

One day the Báb asked that some honey be purchased for Him. The price at which it had been bought seemed to Him exorbitant. He refused it and said: "Honey of a superior quality could no doubt have been purchased at a lower price. I who am your example have been a merchant by profession. It behoves you in all your transactions to follow in My way. You must neither defraud your neighbour nor allow him to defraud you. Such was the way of your Master. The shrewdest and ablest of men were unable to deceive Him, nor did He on His part choose to act ungenerously towards the meanest and most helpless of creatures." He insisted that the attendant who had made that purchase should return and bring back to Him a honey superior in quality and cheaper in price.

Nabíl-i-A'zam, Dawn-Breakers, p. 303

In this, the cycle of Almighty God, violence and force, constraint and oppression, are one and all condemned. It is, however, mandatory that the use of opium be prevented by any means whatsoever, that perchance the human race may be delivered from this most powerful of plagues.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, cited in Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Notes, p. 239

From the texts you already have available it is clear that Bahá'u'lláh has stated that it is preferable to be killed in the path of God's good-pleasure than to kill, and that organized religious attack against Bahá'ís should never turn into any kind of warfare, as this is strictly prohibited in our Writings.
     A hitherto untranslated Tablet from 'Abdu'l-Bahá, however, points out that in the case of attack by robbers and highwaymen, a Bahá'í should not surrender himself, but should try, as far as circumstances permit, to defend himself, and later on lodge a complaint with the government authorities. In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, he also indicates that in an emergency when there is no legal force at hand to appeal to, a Bahá'í is justified in defending his life. In another letter the Guardian has further pointed out that the assault of an irresponsible assailant upon a Bahá'í should be resisted by the Bahá'í, who would be justified, under such circumstances, in protecting his life.

Universal House of Justice, M from Universal House of Justice, p. 26

Asking for further questions, the problem of contributing for the care of Bahá'ís who may be sick or infirm was presented; in view of the fact that there are many demands at times and the friends are able to do but little, generally speaking.
     'Abdu'l-Bahá: "The Friends must strive and show efforts and assist. Whosoever is a believer and assured, firm in the Cause, there is no doubt that he will contribute towards the assistance of the poor. This is an evidence of the faith. But if a person comes in contact with another who is in the utmost need, and he sees that he can help, and if he fails, this is an evidence of the weakness of his faith. If his faith is firm and strong, it is impossible for him not to assist. There is no greater trial than the test of riches. Whosoever you see that he is helping and assisting the poor ones according to his ability, know of a certainty that his faith is strong. Continue according to your ability, not beyond your power, and tell him to content himself with it. Not that he may receive your assistance and not look out for himself. He is not able to work, that is why he needs assistance; if he were able to work it is not allowable to assist him. Lazy people should not be assisted; otherwise everybody would leave his work and expect others to support him. There would be no end to it."

S of W, Vol. III, No. 11, p. 5

... idle people who lack the desire to work can have no place in the new World Order.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, LOG, p. 624

... one must be very considerate towards animals and show greater kindness to them than to man ... The harmful animals, such as the bloodthirsty wolf, the poisonous snake and other injurious animals are excepted, because mercy towards these is cruelty to man and other animals. For instance, if you show kindness to a wolf this becomes tyranny to the sheep, for it may destroy an entire flock of sheep. If you give the opportunity to a mad dog, it may be the cause of the destruction of a thousand animals and men. Therefore, sympathy to the ferocious animal is cruelty to the peaceful animal, so they should be done away with.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, BWF, p. 374

Beware lest, through compassion, ye neglect to carry out the statutes of the religion of God,....

Bahá'u'lláh, KA, p. 36

In this Book He ... cautions them not to be indulgent in carrying out His statutes.

Shoghi Effendi, GPB, pp. 214-215

If any of the European pioneers are really in need of relief parcels for their personal use, there is certainly no objection to sending them some. However, he certainly would not send relief for those whom they are teaching or contacting, as this would seem in the nature of either a reward or an enticement for those attracted to the Faith.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, BN #202, p. 2

When teaching among the masses, the friends should be careful not to emphasize the charitable and humanitarian aspects of the Faith as a means to win recruits. Experience has shown that when facilities such as schools, dispensaries, hospitals, or even clothes and food are offered to the people being taught, many complications arise. The prime motive should always be the response of man to God's message, and the recognition of His Messenger.

Universal House of Justice, W of G, p. 32

Neither did we eat any man's bread for naught; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you.
    Not because we have not the power, but to make ourselves an example unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work; neither should he eat.
    For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
    Now them that are such we command and exhort by your Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

St. Paul, Thessalonians 3:8-12


JUSTICE:  PURPOSE

The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men.

Bahá'u'lláh, Words of Paradise, quoted in ADJ, p. 28

That which traineth the world is Justice,....

Bahá'u'lláh, The Glad Tidings, quoted in ADJ, p. 28


JUSTICE MUST BE BASED ON FACTS

The best beloved of all things in My sight is justice;.... By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbour.

Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic, No. 2

They must inquire into matters as fully as possible in order that they may be informed of the real facts....

Bahá'u'lláh, Tablet of Tarázát, BNE, p. 155

If any bad man come unto you with news, clear up the matter at once, lest through ignorance ye harm others, and be speedily constrained to repent of what ye have done.

Muhammad, Qur'án 49-6, quoted by the Báb in Dawn-Breakers, p. 150

How, then, didst thou pronounce thy verdict against Me, when thou hadst not heard My testimony from Mine own lips?....

He accused Us, in his letter to thee, and thou didst believe him and followed in his way, without seeking any proof or trustworthy evidence from him. Thou didst ask for no explanation, nor didst thou attempt either to investigate or ascertain the matter, that the truth might be distinguished from falsehood in thy sight, and that thou mightest be clear in thy discernment.

Bahá'u'lláh, Tablet to Minister of Shah, GWB. 225-229

What does it mean to investigate reality? It means that man must forget all hearsay and examine truth himself, for he does not know whether statements he hears are in accordance with reality or not.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, PUP, 2nd ed., p. 62

If a man were to declare, "There is a lamp in the next room which gives no light," one hearer might be satisfied with his report, but a wiser man goes into the room to judge for himself, and behold, when he finds the light shining brilliantly in the lamp, he knows the truth!
    Again, a man proclaims: "There lies a garden in which there are trees with broken branches bearing no fruit, and the leaves thereof are faded and yellow! In that garden, also, there are flowering plants with no blooms, and rose bushes withered and dying -- go not into that garden!" A just man, hearing this account of the garden, would not be content without seeing for himself whether it be true or not. He, therefore, enters the garden, and behold, he finds it well tilled....

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 103-104

We ... should stress the necessity ... of learning more about one another through direct, personal experience rather than through the reports and opinions of our friends.

Shoghi Effendi, P of BA, p. 47


JUSTICE:  REWARD AND PUNISHMENT

That which traineth the world is Justice, for it is upheld by two pillars, reward and punishment.

Bahá'u'lláh, The Glad-Tidings, quoted in ADJ, p. 28

The first heralded the promise of reward, while the second voiced the ominous warning of punishment. The promise gave rise to hope and the warning begat fear. Thus the basis of world order hath been firmly established upon these twin principles.

Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 66

In the conduct of life, man is actuated by two main motives : - "The Hope of Reward" and "The Fear of Punishment."
    This hope and this fear must consequently be greatly taken into account by those in authority who have important posts under Government. Their business in life is to consult together for the framing of laws, and to provide for their just administration.
    The tent of the order of the world is raised and established on the two pillars of "Reward and Punishment."

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 157

The people of Bahá must not refuse to discharge the due reward of anyone, and must respect possessors of talent, ... One must speak with justice and recognize the worth of benefits.

Bahá'u'lláh, Tablet of glad tidings, BWF, p. 170; BNE, p. 143

... the labourer is worthy of his hire.

Jesus Christ, Luke 10:7

Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the peoples of the world.

Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, pp. 51-52, cited in Lights of Guidance, p. 555

Shall they who have knowledge and they who have it not, be treated alike?

Muhammad, Qur'án 39:12, quoted by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, SDC, p. 2

The Master has definitely stated that wages should be unequal, simply because that men are unequal in their ability and hence should receive wages that would correspond to their varying capacities and resources.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, LOG, p. 551

Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him; for they shall eat the fruit of their doing.
Woe unto the wicked! It shall be ill with him for the reward of his hands shall be given him.

Isaiah, 3:10-11

Taste ye what your hands have wrought!

Bahá'u'lláh, ADJ, p. 81; PDC, p. 3

... I have pledged Myself not to forgive any man's injustice.

Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words, Persian #64

... the day when the Balance of Justice shall be set, the day when unto everyone shall be rendered his due,....

Bahá'u'lláh, GWB, p. 251; PDC, p. 23


THE MOST GREAT JUSTICE

This Most Great Justice is indeed the Justice upon which the structure of the Most Great Peace can alone, and must eventually, rest, while the Most Great Peace will, in turn usher in that Most Great, that World Civilization which shall remain forever associated with Him Who beareth the Most Great Name.

Shoghi Effendi, PDC, pp. 5-6

... "Spiritual Assemblies" ... solemnly pledged to follow, under all conditions, the dictates of the "Most Great Justice" that can alone usher in the reign of the "Most Great Peace" which Bahá'u'lláh has proclaimed and must ultimately establish;....

Shoghi Effendi, GPB, p. 331

Know verily that the essence of justice and the source thereof are both embodied in the ordinances prescribed by Him Who is the Manifestation of the Self of God amongst men, if ye be of them that recognize this truth. He doth verily incarnate the highest, the infallible standard of justice unto all creation.

Bahá'u'lláh, dot. p. 175

If justice could descend from heaven and take a pencil in its hand to write down the law with such definiteness, precision and detail that its application should become a work of mechanical routine, nothing more perfect could be conceived for the administration of justice, and the kingdom of justice would be complete upon earth.

Jhering, quoted by Jerome Frank, Law and the Modern Mind, p. 233*
_______________
* This material is reprinted by permission of the copyright owner, Doubleday & Company, Inc.


JUSTICE BY INDIVIDUALS

Be fair to yourselves and to others, that the evidences of justice may be revealed, through your deeds, among Our faithful servants.

Bahá'u'lláh, GWB, p. 278, and cited in ADJ, p. 25

We entreat God -- exalted and glorified be He -- to aid all men to be just and fair-minded..

Bahá'u'lláh, ESW, p. 35

Be fair in thy judgment.... Be unjust to no man....

Bahá'u'lláh, ESW, p. 93

Blessed is ... the just man who secures the right of a wronged one from the oppressor.

Bahá'u'lláh, Words of Paradise, BWF, p. 183

Justice is not limited, it is a universal quality. Its operation must be carried out in all classes, from the highest to the lowest. Justice must be sacred, and the rights of all the people must be considered....
    Each man has been placed in a post of honour, which he must not desert. A humble workman who commits an injustice is as much to blame as a renowned tyrant. Thus we all have our choice between justice and injustice.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 159-160

Should other people and nations ... be unjust towards you, show justice towards them....

'Abdu'l-Bahá, W&T, p. 14

The second attribute of perfection is justice and impartiality. This means to have no regard for one's own personal benefits and selfish advantages, and to carry out the laws of God without the slightest concern for anything else. It means to see one's self as only one of the servants of God, the All-Possessing, and except for aspiring to spiritual distinction, never attempting to be singled out from the others. It means to consider the welfare of the community as one's own. It means, in brief, to regard humanity as a single individual, and one's own self as a member of that corporeal form, and to know of a certainty that if pain or injury afflicts any member of that body, it must inevitably result in suffering for all the rest.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, SDC, p. 39

It must be demonstrated in the impartiality of every defender of the Faith against its enemies, in his fair-mindedness in recognizing any merits that enemy may possess, and in his honesty in discharging any obligations he may have towards him....
So great and transcendental is this principle of Divine justice, ... that Bahá'u'lláh Himself subordinates His personal inclination and wish to the all-compelling force of its demands and implications. "God is My witness!" He thus explains, "were it not contrary to the Law of God, I would have kissed the hand of My would-be murderer, and would cause him to inherit My earthly goods. I am restrained, however, by the binding Law laid down in the Book...."

Shoghi Effendi, ADJ, p. 27; GWB XVIII, p. 102


EQUALITY

All men are equal before the law, which must reign absolutely.
    ... prince, peer and peasant alike have equal rights to just treatment, there must be no favour shown to individuals. A judge must be no "respecter of persons," but must administer the law with strict impartiality in every case brought before him.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 154

There shall be an equality of rights and prerogatives for all mankind.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, PUP, 2nd ed., p. 318

... its basis is ... equality in rights among all people....

'Abdu'l-Bahá, S of W, Vol, XII, p. 27

... insuring the integrity of the members of society and their equality before the law.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, SDC, p. 14

Bahá'u'lláh teaches that an equal standard of human rights must be recognized and adopted. In the estimation of God, all men are equal. There is no distinction or preference for any soul, in the realm of His justice and equity.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, PUP, 2nd ed., p. 182; ADJ, p. 37


EQUITY

(From OF equite; L aequitas, equality, from L aequus, equal.) The quality of being equal or fair; impartiality.

Oxford English Dictionary

In the broad sense in which this term is sometimes used, it signifies natural justice.

Bouvier's Law Dictionary

In a restricted sense, the word denotes equal and impartial justice as between two persons whose rights or claims are in conflict; justice, that is, as ascertained by natural reason or ethical insight but independent of the formulated body of law.

Black's Law Dictionary

Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men.

Bahá'u'lláh, ESW, p. 13

Equity is rarely to be found, and justice hath ceased to exist.

Bahá'u'lláh, ESW, p. 131

Tell, O 'Ali, the loved ones of God that equity is the most fundamental among human virtues. The evaluation of all things must needs depend upon it....
    Say: Observe equity in your judgment, ye men of understanding heart! He that is unjust in his judgment is destitute of the characteristics that distinguish man's station.

Bahá'u'lláh, GWB. pp. 203-204

... a new World Order ... equitable in principle....

Shoghi Effendi, WOB, p. 34


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