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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Bahá'í Scriptures

by Juan Cole

published in Occasional Papers in Shaykhi, Babi and Baha'i Studies, 3:2
The conception of human rights arose as part of the project of modernity, and has been problematic for many religious traditions. I will argue that for important historical reasons, Bahá'u'lláh (the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, 1817-1892) and the religion's subsequent holy figures all had an unusual commitment to the governmental guarantee of human rights. This is not to say that there are no conflicts between some strains of secular human rights thought and the values of Bahá'í texts, only that the scriptures of the Bahá'í Faith give support to the conception of human rights in a way that, if implemented, would minimize such conflicts. I will return to the question of why this should have been below. I should warn the reader that I am here concerned with the texts and ideals of the Bahá'í holy figures rather than with later institutions or actual contemporary practice. One reason for this focus is that little thoroughgoing writing on these textual ideals has been produced, and in a scriptural religion such foundational work is key.

Ironically, religion and human rights are in significant conflict. Although the world religions are dedicated to key spiritual values such as respect and love for all human beings, their major traditions and texts arose between the thirteenth century B.C. and the seventh century A.D., in ancient agrarian societies that bestowed few private rights on individuals, and only a limited number of public ones.(1) Religious groups, as communities of faith, moreover, often face difficulties with the modern notion of the rights to privacy and free speech, since it is precisely private ethical behavior and public adherence to doctrine that often demarcates the community. In the nineteenth century, both Roman Catholic popes and Muslim clergy fulminated against certain rights advocated by the Enlightenment theorists. Some of the religious opposition to human rights comes from its association with a particular brand of modern politics. Political "liberalism" in the nineteenth-century sense has been an important force in the development of human rights, opposing oppressive ideologies such as fascism, antiliberalism and communism. In contrast, prior to World War II Roman Catholics in countries such as France were largely committed to the political Right, which in Europe tended to view the ideals of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution with a great deal of suspicion. Likewise, many Muslim authorities reject liberalism, democracy, and the idea of human rights to this day (though the impact of liberal Islam, as with Muhammad `Abduh (d. 1905) in Egypt has been substantial)..

I would like to proceed by taking some central articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, and discussing them in relationship to key Bahá'í texts.(2) This declaration has several virtues as a starting-point. First, it is rooted in a tradition of human rights thinking exemplified by the U.S. Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, which have been touchstones for law in Europe and the Americas, and influential in major countries of the global South such as India. Second, it is relatively widely subscribed to throughout the world, insofar as its basic provisions have been adopted by many United Nations member states through subsequent U.N. covenants. Third, the Bahá'í Faith was a recognized Non-Governmental Organization during its formulation and actually submitted position papers on its provisions, and the Declaration has been endorsed as contributing to world peace by the Bahá'í Universal House of Justice.(3) It cannot be seen as a truly universal document with regard either to its origins, given the strong Western bias in the U.N. at the time of its formulation, or with regard to its acceptance throughout the world (Communist China, the planet's remaining dictatorships, and parts of the Muslim world reject many of its provisions). But because of the key role in its framing played by Eleanor Roosevelt, and because it won the support of a number of countries in the global South, including Pakistan, it is not at all fair to see the Declaration, as is sometimes done, as merely the production of European males. Moreover, the appeal of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has, ironically, grown more encompassing with time. In 1948, 48 nations voted for it, none against, and eight abstained. South Africa abstained because it rejected the document's call for racial equality and its prohibition of discrimination. The Soviet Union and some Communist allies abstained, partially because of the Declaration's support for property rights, and, less openly, because the promise of individual rights enshrined in the Declaration would have challenged totalitarian practices in those states. Both Apartheid and the Soviet system are no more, and most South Africans and eastern Europeans now embrace the ideals of the Declaration. Further, 100 member states who later joined the U.N. have endorsed the document, though sometimes only on a pro forma basis. The other abstainer in 1948 was Saudi Arabia, which rejected the Declaration's commitment to freedom of religion, and this issue remains a sticking point in some, but by no means all, parts the Muslim world (Pakistan's delegate forcefully supported the document's freedom of conscience provisions). The Declaration is not itself a law, but a set of prima facie ideals, and has only been worked into international law through later U.N. Covenants that were signed as treaties, and which contained similar articles.(4)

Some of the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have to do with state practices that are not directly relevant to a religious community. I will here concentrate on those articles that deal with values about which a religion might have something to say. I should also here clarify what I mean by human rights, drawing on the work of James Nickel.(5) Rights are specific norms to which a high priority must be given and which human beings are obliged to strive to implement. Human rights are universal. Much early modern thinking about civil rights, from Locke through Jefferson, saw these rights as deriving from a person's status. Thus, rights pertained primarily to propertied white males who were subjects of a particular crown or citizens of a particular republic. The idea that persons have rights by virtue of being human, rather than by virtue of their citizenship or ownership of property or some other qualifying characteristic is new in world history, and develops during the course of the nineteenth century. It does not find anything approximating legal acceptance until the twentieth century, when women finally gain the vote and de jure racial discrimination is ended in places such as the United States and South Africa. Rights, unlike positive law, exist whether or not they are recognized or implemented in particular legal systems or countries. Rights are not and cannot for the most part be absolute; rather, they are prima facie. That is, they are powerful normative considerations that overrule national and cultural considerations and call for international action to see them implemented. Rights imply duties for individuals, communities, and states, whether or not the latter acknowledge them. Finally, they set up minimum standards of decent practice by governments and societies.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins by affirming that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, that they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The second article emphasizes that everyone is entitled to these rights, regardless of "race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." Articles 6 and 7 also insist that all human beings enjoy the rights enumerated by this document.

The scriptures of most world religions do not contain the conception of a civil or human "right." That human beings have rights, however, is asserted by Bahá'u'lláh on more than one occasion. Addressing the monarchs of the world, he instructed them to "safeguard the rights of the down-trodden, and punish the wrong-doers." (6) He felt that his own rights had been unjustly denied him by the despotic governments of Iran and the Ottoman Empire.(7) Bahá'u'lláh was falsely accused of sedition in Tehran in 1852 and imprisoned in a horrific dungeon for four months before being acquitted and exonerated. He nevertheless was forced into exile in Baghdad for over a decade, was then brought to Istanbul and summarily banished to the provincial European town of Edirne or Adrianople for about five years, and then was incarcerated in the fortress of Akka on the coast of Ottoman Syria by the Sultan in 1868, and he spent the rest of his life in the environs of Akka. During all this time he was never convicted of a crime. He was a prisoner of conscience, suffering for his insistence that a new religion was required that would succeed Islam and reform the world. In 1891, referring to the Qajar state in Iran, Bahá'u'lláh lamented that "they that perpetrate tyranny in the world have usurped the rights (huquq) of the peoples and kindreds of the earth and are sedulously pursuing their selfish inclinations." (8)

But was Bahá'u'lláh thinking of these "rights" in a modern European sense? I think there is every evidence that he did so. The Enlightenment idea of "rights" had been advocated in the Middle East by intellectuals and journalists from at least the 1860s, often by Muslims with a European education who were well aware of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, the U.S. Bill of Rights, and subsequent liberal thought. Indeed, the use of the word huquq in the sense of civil rights is a nineteenth-century innovation, and the word's new meaning was very much tied to its synonyms in European languages. The Young Ottoman reformist thinker, Namik Kemal, wrote in a newspaper in the 1870s, "Every book, in explaining the subject of "political rights," takes a different approach to categorizing them. Even so, among authors a great deal of agreement has been achieved on articles, drawn from universal principles, such as: popular sovereignty, separation of governmental powers, answerability of officials, personal liberty (hurriyyat), equality, freedom of thought, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, the right to dispose of one's own property (haqq-i tasarruf), and the inviolability of one's home. Popular sovereignty means that the powers of the state are derived from the people, and in Islamic Law is referred to as the right of giving fealty (bay`at)."(9) Bahá'u'lláh corresponded with the Young Ottomans and was aware of their ideas. Kemal conducted a lively correspondence with `Abdu'l-Bahá, who followed the Middle Eastern press of the day with keen interest.(10)

Bahá'u'lláh, as has been seen, employed the word "rights" (huquq) especially in opposition to tyranny and arbitrary rule. Bahá'u'lláh was critical of "liberty" in the sense of moral licence, and, like the formative republican thinkers in the U.S., would have rejected the John Stuart Mill notion that individuals had a right to behave as they pleased as long as they harmed no one (few religious thinkers, in fact, could agree that private morality is unimportant or that 'victimless' crimes such as prostitution should be legalized). In the Most Holy Book he criticized liberty/license for leading to sedition or public turmoil (fitnah) and to immorality. On the other hand, he did not reject the positive aspects of liberty, writing, "We approve of liberty in certain circumstances and refuse to sanction it in others." (Citations are at the end of the paragraph.) True liberty, he said, lay in obeying God's laws. But among those laws, ironically enough, were many prescribing political liberties and rights. This is why he said he approved of liberty under some circumstances but not others. He wrote approvingly to the Afnan clan of Shiraz and Bombay in the late 1880s that "in reality, liberty (hurriyyat) and civilization (madaniyyat) and their prerequisites are increasing day by day." In 1889 he wrote a letter in which he characterized his policy of allowing Bahá'ís to consort peacefully with members of other religions, read their scriptures, and wear Western clothing as the bestowal upon them of liberty (hurriyyat). Already by 1875 `Abdu'l-Bahá was arguing to Iranian conservatives with regard to European conceptions that "liberty (hurriyyat)" with regard to "the general rights of individuals (huquq-i `umumiyyih-yi afrad) is not contrary to prosperity and success."(11)

These rights are in Bahá'í thought to be enjoyed by all human beings. Bahá'u'lláh had insisted on the equality of all in the 1858 Hidden Words: "Know ye not," he depicts God as asking, "why We created ye all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other." (12) He reaffirmed the principle of equality in his Most Holy Book, saying "Let no man exalt himself above another; all are but bondslaves before the Lord . . ." (13) Indeed, the idea of a set of universal rights was later identified by `Abdu'l-Bahá as one of the major principles of the Bahá'í Faith. At a Baptist Temple in Philadelphia on 9 June 1912, `Abdu'l-Bahá declared that the seventh major teaching of Bahá'u'lláh is equality of rights. He says that all humans are alike in the eyes of God and their rights are one.(14) This equality extends specifically to gender. He wrote in 1913, "In this Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, the women go neck and neck with the men. In no movement will they be left behind. Their rights with men are equal in degree. They will enter all the administrative branches of politics. They will attain in such a degree as will be considered the very highest station of the world of humanity and will take part in all affairs."(15) He also condemned religious, racial, national and other forms of prejudice.(16) All human beings are possessed of reason and conscience according to the Bahá'í scriptures, and `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke of intellect as "God's greatest gift to man."(17) And a call for human brotherhood pervades its central texts. "May all humanity enter the bond of brotherhood," `Abdu'l-Bahá prayed. Shoghi Effendi spoke of "the gospel of peace and of brotherhood proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh," characterizing chauvinist nationalism as its negation.(18)

Among the more graphic affronts to the idea of human rights is slavery and bonded labor, which commodify human beings and reduce them to chattel, and these practices are condemned in article four of the Universal Declaration. Slavery is an ancient institution, and is permitted in the central texts of most of the major world religions, including Christianity and Islam, though the Qur'an recognizes manumission as a good deed. Slavery's early modern form in the West arose during the age of European seafaring expansion, in which Powers such as the Portuguese tapped into Muslim and African trading networks for new, colonial purposes. Ironically, neither the U.S. Bill of Rights nor the French Declaration of the Rights of Man prohibited slavery, since they envisaged key rights as belonging to propertied white males. Although Britain and the United States abolished the slave trade in 1807 and 1808 respectively, persons already in a condition of slavery were not freed till much later. The French emancipated slaves in 1848, the Dutch and the Americans in 1863. Although many among the Muslim elite in the Middle East were convinced that the Qur'an and Islamic law permit slavery, and although large numbers of notables demonstrated considerable opposition to the abolition of the institution, the Ottoman empire and its vassal provinces did make attempts to end the slave trade from the mid-nineteenth century (though, again, the curbing of the trade did not translate into immediate manumission for those already enslaved).(19) Bahá'u'lláh in his 1868 or 1869 letter to Queen Victoria commended her government for prohibiting slavery, and he himself wrote unequivocally on this issue in his Most Holy Book: "It is forbidden you to trade in slaves, be they men or women. It is not for him who is himself a servant to buy another of God's servants, and this hath been prohibited in His Holy Tablet."(20) He makes it clear that the principle of human equality underlay his legislation of this decree. The recrudescence of bonded labor in the late twentieth century unfortunately demonstrates that vigilance with regard to this principle cannot be relaxed, despite the world-wide abolition of slavery in law.

Another major concern of the Universal Declaration is just procedures for those charged with crimes, especially since its framers well knew in the aftermath of the Axis onslaught that the state's definition of a "crime" often includes forms of conscientious opposition to the state. The Declaration forbids torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 5) as well as arbitrary detention, arrest or exile (Article 9) and insists that the accused be brought before a competent tribunal (Articles 8, 10) and be presumed innocent until proven guilty (Article 11); it also provides for the right of asylum from persecution (Article 14).

Equity is a prime value in the Bahá'í scriptures. Bahá'u'lláh writes in his Hidden Words that God proclaims, "O Son of Spirit: The best beloved of all things in My sight is justice." Bahá'u'lláh was especially sensitive to the subject of arbitrary arrest and exile, which so many Babis and Bahá'ís suffered, which he, his family and his companions experienced first hand. He thought particularly egregious the Ottoman government's exile of him in 1868 from Edirne to the fortress at `Akka, solely for his religious beliefs. In his Tablet to the Premier, written soon after his arrival in `Akka, and addressed to Ottoman First Minister Ali Pasa, Bahá'u'lláh complains about being the victim of an absolutist fiat. He wrote that it was incumbent that an assembly be convened wherein he might have been gathered together with the learned men of the age, and it could have become clear what the Bahá'ís' crime was.(21) Only an assemblage of learned individuals or judges could have come to a fair decision, he insists, and then only by means of a thorough inquiry into the truth and a finding that a genuine crime had been committed.

In his 1875 Secret of Divine Civilization, `Abdu'l-Bahá severely criticizes arbitrary arrest and punishment. He says that in the 1840s "it was heard from many sources that the governor of Gulpaygan seized thirteen defenseless bailiffs of the region, all of them of holy lineage, all of them guiltless, and without a trial, and without obtaining any higher sanction, beheaded them in a single hour."(22) He even blames what he saw as Iran's decline in population on "the lack of an adequate system of government and the despotism and unbridled authority of provincial and local governors," complaining that "the governors would select any victim they cared to, however, innocent, and vent threir wrath on him and destroy him." (23) He declares such practices in conformity neither with justice nor with the laws of God. It is clear, then, that the Bahá'í scriptures insist on a rule of law, and forbid the arbitrary detention or exile of any individual. They require proof of wrongdoing, and the considered judgment of a judicial panel that takes into account all the facts. The despotic fiat of a single unelected ruler or governor is rejected as the basis for jailing or sanctioning a citizen. As for asylum, `Abdu'l-Bahá commands Bahá'ís to "become ye a shelter and asylum to the fearful ones." (24)

The Universal Declaration insists that "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion" (Article 18) and adds that "everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression" (article 19). Although these freedoms have been a stumbling block for some religions with regard to human rights, they are liberally upheld in the Bahá'í Writings. In his Tablet to Nasiru'd-Din Shah, Bahá'u'lláh calls upon that monarch to judge the Bahá'í community by the same criteria he judges others.(25) He adds that numerous denominations and diverse religious communities reposed in the shadow of the king, and that the Bahá'ís were one of them, and insists that the shah's officials must with the highest determination and character arrange matters so that all religions would come under the shadow of the king, and he would rule among them with justice. Implementing the law of God, he concludes, simply consists in justice.(26) Bahá'u'lláh is in these passages making an argument for religious liberty and equal rights for all citizens, requiring that the state show fairness and impartiality to all subjects. This view of the civil government differs starkly from that of the Muslim clergy of the time, who accepted the state as just only if it discriminated against non-Muslims and persecuted those they deemed heretics and apostates. One author writing of Luther, Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau says that a unifying theme runs through their thought: "the equality of all human beings under the sovereign," adding, "this notion I take to be one of the essential elements of early modern thought, a notion that has no antecedent in the ancient world." (27) Classical Islamic jurisprudence also did not recognized such equality, so that Bahá'u'lláh was saying something new here in his society, just as the Western thinkers had in theirs.

In his chronicle of the Babi and Bahá'í movements, `Abdu'l-Bahá deplored the religious persecution practiced in nineteenth-century Iran, writing that to ensure "freedom of conscience (azadigi-yi vujdan) and tranquillity of heart and soul is one of the duties and functions of government, and is in all ages the cause of progress in development and ascendency over other lands." (28) This passage emphasizes that it is obligatory upon the state to ensure freedom of conscience, which, in the context, can only be understood as the right to entertain whatever religious and metaphysical views one wishes, even should they strike the majority as heretical. This seems to me the beginning of an argument against the establishment of religion, that is, against the enforcement of a monopolistic state religion. I see it, in turn, as a sentiment very similar to that expressed in the first amendment of the U.S. constitution. It implies a separation of church and state in the sense that `Abdu'l-Bahá refuses to recognize the legitimacy of any coercive measures that would interfere with freedom of conscience. Equality under the law and even-handed treatment of all citizens by the state are prerequisites, in `Abdu'l-Bahá's view, to ending sectarian strife of a sort which he sees as a prime cause for the weakness of Middle Eastern states in the nineteenth century. He continues, "all are one people, one nation, one species, one kind. The common interest is complete equality (maslahat-i `ammih musavat-i tammih ast); justice and equality amongst mankind are amongst the chief promoters of [world-rehabilitation (jihan-bani)]." (29) He demands, in short, that all citizens be dealt with "according to one standard" by the state, which should ensure "complete equality." He adds, "Inteference with creed and faith in every country causes manifest detriment, while justice and equal dealing towards all peoples on the face of the earth are the means whereby progress is effected."(30)

He contrasts medieval intolerance with the Enlightenment reforms of the eighteenth century: "But when [the Westerners] removed these differences, persecutions, and bigotries out of their midst, and proclaimed the equal rights of all subjects and the liberty of men's consciences, the lights of glory and power arose and shone from the horizons of that kingdom in such wise that those countries made progress in every direction . . . These are effectual and sufficient proofs that the conscience of man is sacred and to be respected; and that liberty thereof produces widening of ideas, amendment of morals, improvement of conduct, disclosure of the secrets of creation, and manifestation of the hidden verities of the contingent world."(31) It is a little surprising to discover in the works of a nineteenth-century Middle Eastern religious leader so ringing an endorsement of the work of Jefferson, Madison and the French philosophers, and of liberty itself as a key to social progress and scientific discovery.

In later years `Abdu'l-Bahá preached these ideals in the West. He greatly appreciated the American constitution. On 23 April 1912 at an African-American gathering in Washington, D.C., he said, "Praise be to God! You are living upon the great continent of the West, enjoying the perfect liberty, security and peace of this just government. There is no cause for sorrow or unhappiness anywhere; every means of happiness and enjoyment is about you, for in this human world there is no greater blessing than liberty. You do not know. I, who for forty years have been a prisoner, do know. I do know the value and blessing of liberty. For you have been and are now living in freedom, and you have no fear of anybody. Is there a greater blessing than this? Freedom! Liberty! Security! These are the great bestowals of God. Therefore, praise ye God."(32) African-Americans at this time had a great deal to complain about with regard to the inequities of the American system, but `Abdu'l-Bahá urged them to consider the positive liberties they did enjoy, and reminded them that even an imperfect democracy was superior to the Ottoman despotism under which he himself had lived most of his life. At the Central Congregational Church in Brooklyn on 16 June 1912, he said: "Just as in the world of politics there is need for free thought, likewise in the world of religion there should be the right of unrestricted individual belief. Consider what a vast difference exists between modern democracy and the old forms of despotism. Under an autocratic government the opinions of men are not free, and development is stifled, whereas in a democracy, because thought and speech are not restricted, the greatest progress is witnessed. It is likewise true in the world of religion. When freedom of conscience, liberty of thought and right of speech prevail--that is to say, when every man according to his own idealization may give expression to his beliefs--development and growth are inevitable."(33) At the Universalist Church Washington, D.C. on 6 Nov. 1912, he said: "Praise be to God! The standard of liberty is held aloft in this land. You enjoy political liberty; you enjoy liberty of thought and speech, religious liberty, racial and personal liberty."(34) Some of this appreciation of American democracy was a reaction against the royal absolutism of Qajar Iran. `Abdu'l-Bahá had complained in 1875 that in Iran, "Not a soul could speak out, because the governor was in absolute control." (35)

The principle of freedom of conscience is so central to the Bahá'í faith that its holy figures have abolished the entire conceptual category of "heresy" in the religion. In a talk given on 17 April 1913 in Budapest, `Abdu'l-Bahá said that in the religion of God, there is freedom of thought, since there is no ruler over the individual conscience other than God. Individual conscience should, of course, be expressed in accordance with good manners. There is, however, no liberty of deeds in the Bahá'í faith, since behavior is delimited by the revealed Law. By "freedom of thought" here, he clearly means freedom of thought and speech, otherwise he need not have required politeness in its expression. And he clearly meant to say that the believer's freedom of thought and expression could not be abrogated by any governmental or religious institution, since only God has rulership over the individual conscience. Earlier, in Palo Alto, California, he had pledged that the sort of persecutions and faction-fighting over doctrine that occurred in early Christianity would not be repeated in the Bahá'í faith, both because of the appointment within it of houses of justice and of authoritative interpreters, and because Bahá'u'lláh had commanded that there be no interference in beliefs (`aqa'id) or in conscience (damir). Again, he clearly is forbidding even the Bahá'í institutions from interference in the expression of personal beliefs and conscience. Otherwise, if there should be religious persecution by Bahá'í institutions of individuals for their theological views, then the situation would be exactly analogous to that of early Christianity. That `Abdu'l-Bahá made this statement in answer to a query about how the Bahá'í faith might differ from previous religions, with their history of repression and theological wrangling, can only make sense if he really mean to exempt public expression of private belief from any sort of punishment. (36) Bahá'ís, of course, must be orthoprax, must engage in right practice of the religion, but there is no orthodoxy of doctrine or belief that could be imposed on an individual against his or her conscience. It is true that schism is not permitted in Bahá'í law, but this is a matter of behavior (setting up a sect that denies the legitimacy of the textually-appointed head of the faith), not of mere words. Some point to counter-evidence on this matter from `Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament, in which he says, "To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular convictions. All must seek guidance and turn to unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice."(37) However, this untechnical translation does not convey the full sense of the original, which is couched in the language of the technical science of the principles of Islamic jurisprudence. .What is being forbidden here is for a Bahá'í jurisprudent (mujtahid) to give idiosyncratic legal rulings (ra'y) at variance with those of the legislating body, the Universal House of Justice. In `Abdu'l-Bahá's time, such jurisprudents, who typically had a Shi`ite seminary degree, were the backbone of many communities and were deferred to by the other Bahá'ís on matters of law. Indeed, Bahá'ís would take their disputes to them for arbitration. `Abdu'l-Bahá was concerned that for each to arbitrate disputes idiosyncratically (by ra'y) would lead to great variation in actual Bahá'í practice. He therefore forbade such individualist jurisprudence, saying that the "door of independent legal rulings" (bab-i ijtihad) must remain closed. Practically speaking, what is being forbidden here is for a Bahá'í jurisprudent to give rulings in arbitration cases that are at variance with those of the Universal House of Justice. Nowadays the Bahá'í jurisprudents as a class have died out, and most such arbitration is carried out by Local Spiritual Assemblies, who are therefore now the main addressees of this verse about the need to avoid non-standard legal rulings and to defer to those of the Universal House of Justice. (Ra'y, or ruling according to personal opinion rather than the consensus of one's school, was also frowned upon in Islamic jurisprudence. Later on Iranian Bahá'ís lost contact with such Islamic technical terms and began reading the word as meaning simply "opinion," even though its technical sense is demonstrated by its being juxtaposed to ijtihad, the word for striving to derive the law from scriptural texts and other sources.) In any case, this verse about keeping the door of ijtihad or individualistic legal interpretation closed has nothing to do with reining in the freedom of ordinary Bahá'ís to express their consciences publicly.

Shoghi Effendi also upheld the ideal of the freedom of the individual conscience. He denounced persecution of the Bahá'í Faith in Iraq as contrary to the constitution and organic laws of that country, which, he noted with approval, "expressly provided for the unfettered freedom of conscience."(38) In another context, he expressed his pleasure that "almighty Providence" had "conferred" on the U.S. Bahá'ís, with their first amendment rights, "the inestimable benefits of religious toleration and freedom."(39) Shoghi Effendi approved of of other provisions of the First Amendment:

"Let us also remember that at the very root of the Cause lies the principle of the undoubted right of the individual to self-expression, his freedom ot declare his conscience and set forth his views. If certain instructions of the Master are today particularly emphasized and scrupulously adhered to, let us be sure that they are but provisional measures designed to guard and protect the Cause in its present state of infancy and growth until the day when this tender and precious plant shall have sufficiently grown to be able to withstand the unwisdom of its friends and the attacks of its enemies. Let us also bear in mind that the keynote of the Cause of God is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation."(40)

It seems to me that that these Bahá'í ideals are largely in accord with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, if one makes allowances for a religious body's need to protect itself from schism, even though the Bahá'í community has not always implemented these scriptural ideals in its internal administrative functioning. Bahá'ís have begun speaking seriously about the need to abolish prepublication literature Review, which constrains all believers to have whatever they write about their religion vetted by their religious authorities, an abolition that would be key to bringing Bahá'í administrative practices into closer conformity with the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.(41) But what seems uncontroversial is that the passages quoted above affirm the need for the civil state to protect freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion and speech.

Freedom of conscience and of expression would be of little value were political power to remain despotic and arbitrary. The Universal Declaration in article 21 mandates elected, representative government by universal sufferage. Again, some religious leaders initially rejected representative government when the idea took hold in the late eighteenth century North Atlantic, preferring royal absolutism or theocracy, or a combination of the two. This was true of the nineteenth-century popes and many Muslim clergymen. As late as the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Ruhu'llah Khomeini denounced democracy as incompatible with Islam. (On the other hand, there are majority-Muslim countries that pride themselves on their democratic system of government, including Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Kyrgyz Republic). Bahá'u'lláh, for his part, warmly embraced parliamentary governance as an ideal from about 1868

In a letter to Queen Victoria from the 1868-1869 period, he praised her for having entrusted the reins of counsel into the hands of the people [awda`ti zimama al-mushawarati bi ayadi al-jumhur], probably a reference to the 1867 Reform Act, which greatly extended the franchise.(42) He added that "Thou, indeed, hast done well, for thereby the foundations of the edifice of thine affairs will be strengthened, and the hearts of all that are beneath thy shadow, whether high or low, will be tranquillized." In the Ottoman Empire and Iran at this time, such sentiments were considered extremely seditious by the state, and were strictly banned. Bahá'u'lláh's expression of support for representative government was a radical act for a helpless prisoner in the fortress of the dismal backwater port of Akka, and his message was no less challenging in his political context than was Tom Paine's in the British Empire of George III. Elsewhere, Bahá'u'lláh wrote, "From two ranks amongst men power hath been seized: kings and ecclesiastics." (43)

In his 1873 Most Holy Book Bahá'u'lláh actually speaks of popular sovereignty when apostrophizing Iran, predicting that affairs within it would undergo a revolution, and it would be ruled by a democracy of the people (sawfa tanqalibu fiki al-umuru wa yahkumu `alayki jumhurun min an-nas).(44) He also expresses great hopes that the republics of America will rule with justice. A few years later he clarified his own preference for constitutional monarchy, writing, "Although a republican form of government (jumhuriyyat) profiteth all the peoples of the world, yet the majesty of kingship is one of the signs of God. We do not wish that the countries of the world should remain deprived thereof. If the sagacious combine the two forms into one, great will be their reward in the presence of God."(45) Note that Bahá'u'lláh does not reject republicanism outright, but praises it, and by no means forbids it. He simply feels that republics lack a unifying symbol in the form of a monarchical figurehead. In his 1891 Tablet of the World (Lawh-i Dunya), he again holds up the British parliamentary system of constitutional monarchy as the best form of government, advocating that an Iranian parliament be called, like "the system of government which the British people have adopted in London."(46) He warns that without such government by democratic consultation, Iran would descend into chaos. This warning took on particular urgency during the violent nationwide protests of the Tobacco Revolt, when Iranian merchants and others protested the granting of a British speculator a monopoly over the marketing of Iranian tobacco.(47)

As noted above, `Abdu'l-Bahá was promoting democratic ideals as early as 1875. Noting that the shah had moved to devolve some of his absolute power on appointed state councils, `Abdu'l-Bahá writes, "In the present writer's view it would be preferable if the election (intikhab) of non-permanent members of consultative assemblies (majalis) in [Iran (mamalik-i mahrusih)] should be dependent on the will and choice of the people (manut bi rida'iyyat va intikhab-i jumhur). For elected representatives will on this account be somewhat inclined to exercise justice, lest their reputation suffer and they fall into disfavor with the public."(48) Later in the book he again defends parliamentary governance as an ideal, citing in support of it the Qur'an verses "and whose affairs are guided by mutual counsel" (42:36) and "and consult them in the affair" (3:153). `Abdu'l-Bahá concludes, "In view of this how can the question of mutual consultation be in conflict with the religious law? The great advantages of consultation can be established by logical arguments as well."(49) During the Constitutional Revolution in Iran, `Abdu'l-Bahá wrote to a Bahá'í in the U.S. that "Constitutional government, according to the irrefutable text of the Religion of God, is the cause of the glory and prosperity of the nation and the civilization and freedom of the people." (50) In the context, "constitutional" here means "democratic" or "parliamentary."

Democracy and human rights face severe difficulties in countries with high rates of illiteracy, given the key role played in parliamentary life by information and grass-roots organization. Article 26 guarantees all human beings the right to an education. In the nineteenth-century Middle East most inhabitants were peasants or pastoral nomads, and the literacy rates were extremely low, no more most places than five to seven percent. There were no state schools at the beginning of the century, and relatively few at the end, most education being carried out in Qur'an schools devoted to teaching rote learning. Almost all pupils were boys, except in a few sectarian schools for the Christian communities. Bahá'u'lláh in his Most Holy Book made the education of both girls and boys a parental responsibility. In other works he insisted that parents pay a portion of their income to support education.(51) `Abdu'l-Bahá in his reformist writings on Iran, insisted that the "primary, the most urgent requirement is the promotion of education," without which no progress could be achieved. He added that "education and the arts of civilization bring honor, prosperity, independence and freedom to a government and its people" and urged that it be made compulsory.(52) He reaffirmed these principles during his talks in the West, and emphasized the extreme importance of women's education, insisting that there must be no difference between their education and that of men.(53) The Bahá'í holy figures clearly felt that education should include modern sciences and other secular subjects, but they also indicated that values should be taught. Bahá'u'lláh cautioned against the sort of religious education that might instill fanaticism in children.(54) In addition, the Universal House of Justice has written that "consideration should also be given to teaching the concept of world citizenship as part of the standard education of every child."(55)

A right to privacy and freedom from attacks on honor and reputation are guaranteed in Article 12, while Article 17 guarantees the right to own property and protection from being arbitrarily deprived of it. `Abdu'l-Bahá in the Secret of Divine Civilization advocates "the free exercise of the individual's rights, and the security of his person and property, his dignity and good name."(56) Shoghi Effendi lists among Bahá'í principles that excited the enmity toward the Bahá'í Faith of Russian Communists in the 1920s, "the institution of private property." (57)

These guarantees of privacy and private property, however, are not absolute. With regard to business property as opposed to personal property, these rights must be balanced against workers' rights. Article 22 guarantees each individual social security and economic and social rights indispensable to the development of his or her personality. Article 23 guarantees a right to work, equal pay for equal work, lack of workplace discrimination and the right to form and join trade unions. Article 24 recognizes limitations on working hours to ensure workers adequate rest and leisure, and Article 25 addresses the right to a standard of living adequate to health and well-being, including unemployment compensation and health care. The Bahá'í texts also recognize workers' rights. `Abdu'l-Bahá, in fact, justifies governmental and court intervention to resolve and arbitrate labor disputes on the gounds that these conflicts are not purely private, but rather affect the entire public.(58) The Bahá'í Faith maintains that society has a legitimate interest in employing progressive taxation and other measures to prevent wealth-holding from becoming overly stratified. As for Article 22, `Abdu'l-Bahá held that "if it be right for a capitalist to possess a large fortune, it is equally just that his workman should have a sufficient means of existence," and suggested that some twenty percent of the shares in any company should be reserved for employees, making them part-owners in the enterprise). In addition, employees should receive adequate wages and are owed by their company a "sufficient pension" upon their retirement.(59) Shoghi Effendi agreed that the individual has a right to gainful employment, emphasizing that not only does Bahá'u'lláh in the Most Holy Book lay upon all the duty to engage in productive work, but that "it is the duty of those who are in charge of the organization of society to give every individual the opportunity of acquiring the necessary talent in some kind of profession, and also the means of utilizing such a talent, both for its own sake and for the sake of earning the means of his livelihood."(60) The right of workers to form and join trade unions is also recognized by Shoghi Effendi, though Bahá'ís, as members of a non-partisan movement, may join them only if so doing does not entail membership in a specific political party.(61) As for Article 24's requirement of sufficient rest and leisure for workers, `Abdu'l-Bahá fully concurred, decrying the "industrial slavery" he saw in Western factories in the early twentieth century. (62)

It should be noted that with the decline of socialism in the late twentieth century the idea of a right to work has less and less purchase, since most capitalist countries attempt to keep at least six percent of the workforce in transition to other jobs (a state of transition that is, confusingly, called "unemployment") and pursue other policies that ensure large numbers of permanently unemployed (who are not even counted in the "unemployment" statistics of the United States). The reason for these policies is a fear that full employment would give workers too much bargaining power, lead to strikes and higher wages, and thence to hyperinflation. Neither the Universal Declaration of Human Rights nor the Bahá'í Writings can offer technical economic prescriptions. Both, however, clearly find morally unacceptable any system that leads to long-term genuine unemployment for significant numbers of workers.


The accord between the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the key values of the Bahá'í Writings is remarkable. `Abdu'l-Bahá is quite forthright in the Secret of Divine Civilization about one of the reasons for this similarity, insofar as he urged Iranians to adopt the good things that European modernity had to offer, including the idea of individual rights. The Bahá'í faith arose at a world-historical moment when many thinking persons in the Middle East had recognized the limitations of Muslim jurisprudence as then practiced, and of Absolutist government. But human rights thinking was not the only possible way to deal with the crisis. Other responses were possible, including reaction (going back to an imagined medieval golden age of Islam, which in practice means going back to medieval denials of human rights) and fascism (corporate solidarity in the face of alien Western values and power). Sadly, the latter two sorts of movement have gained great purchase in the Middle East recently. The nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Bahá'ís rejected the reactionary and fascist roads, unlike so many of their compatriots, embracing instead a universal vision of rights for all. They were not alone, of course. Groups such as the Young Ottomans in Istanbul, and thinkers such as Akhundzadih and Yusuf Khan in the Iranian sphere, had also begun advocating the Declaration of the Rights of Man as a remedy for the maladies of Middle Eastern states. Revolutions were fought against absolutism, in the Ottoman Empire in 1876 and in 1908, and in Iran 1905-1911, and though they did not necessarily succeed in the short term, this effervescence certainly led to the relatively democratic state of Turkey that we now have. But this acceptance of the heritage of Locke, Montesquieu and Jefferson was not a passive reception, rather, it was an active appropriation.

In using the word "appropriation" I mean to indicate that Enlightenment ideals concerning rights were not merely imported wholesale into the Bahá'í faith, but rather resonated with the religion's own historical context. The Bahá'í Faith is a religion of history, and many of the similarities derive from its own history of struggle against oppression, which parallels in many ways that of eighteenth-century American Baptists, Quakers, and freethinkers as well as the French philosophes. That is, precisely because the Bahá'í Faith was an innovative religious movement, it ran headlong into all the restrictions on liberty erected by the clergyman and the bureaucrat in the nineteenth-century Middle East. Bahá'ís were persecuted for thought crimes, and so came to value freedom of thought. They could not publish their books in the Middle East, having to resort to British Bombay, and so valued freedom of the press. They suffered from the arbitrary firmans or imperial decrees of shah and sultan, and so saw clearly the advantages of democracy and the rule of law. They were imprisoned unjustly and so championed due process. They included in their ranks many artisans, thrown out of work by the influx of European manufactures, and so became sensitive to workers' rights in the new capitalist world order.

I have examined the values put forward in Bahá'í scriptures and other authoritative texts having to do with the rights of the individual vis-à-vis the civil state. It would seem strange if I do not acknowledge that I and other critics have painted a less than rosy picture of the state of individual rights within the contemporary U.S. Bahá'í community. It is not possible here to explain the dichotomy between the human rights ideals in Bahá'í texts and the apparent illiberalism of many contemporary Bahá'ís. Little study of human rights principles has been carried out heretofore, and it may well be that most Bahá'ís, lacking a contextualized understanding of their own scriptures, have somehow missed the human rights implications of many passages. The Bahá'í administration is relatively young, having come into its own as recently as the 1930s (and in some ways only since 1963 with the establishment of the Universal House of Justice), and perhaps has developed neither the outlook that would be necessary to shrug off occasional dissent or criticism nor the sort of irenic managerial tools that might benefit from it in resolving problems. There is room for optimism about the future. As the religion grows, it will need a more sophisticated approach to administrative issues within the community, and the human rights principles embedded in Bahá'í scriptures may well influence powerfully the religion's future development.

Finally, I would like to stress that in many ways the Bahá'í texts go beyond and critique Enlightenment modernity. They do not accept, as Locke did, that private property rights are absolute, and so cannot be seen as simply "liberal" in the nineteenth-century sense. They demonstrate far more concern for the poor and workers than was typical of Liberalism. They do not accept slavery, as Locke and Jefferson did, because they conceive of rights as human rights, as universally pertaining to human beings, and not as inhering in a status such as "free" or "white." `Abdu'l-Bahá supported women's right to vote years before it became part of the U.S. Constitution. And it should be remembered that British and French colonial officials often justified colonialism with reference to the greater liberty their rule would bestow, whereas Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá critiqued European colonialism and militarism as greedy and disastrous. Finally, they posited two sources for values about human rights, human reason and inspiration, rather than only one. That is, they insisted on a spirituality lacking in the cold Enlightenment ethics, of which romantics such as Emerson also complained. In so doing, they made the conception of human rights into far more than a set of dry legal documents or a subject of discourse at conferences of international experts. They made these rights part of scripture itself. The future of such ideal documents as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights depends in part on the degree to which they can be adopted into international law and become binding on states. But their future also depends upon the degree to which they can become part of general human values. In this regard, their acceptance and promotion by civil society, including Non-Governmental Organizations such as the Bahá'í Faith, is extremely important.


An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Bahá'í Studies of North America at San Francisco, in October, 1995. Thanks are due to the organizers for soliciting it. Thanks are also owed to the anonymous referees who accepted it for publication at an academic print journal and made suggestions for improvement. I decided that Web publication would be preferable in the end, but I am grateful for that editorial process.

1. A point made by several contributors to Hans Küng and Jürgen Moltmann, The Ethics of World Religions and Human Rights (London: SCM Press, 1990). See also Benjamin Constant, "The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns," in Diane Ravitch and Abigail Thernstron, eds., The Democracy Reader (New York: HarperPerennial, 1992), pp. 56-59.

2. "International Declaration of Human Rights," in Ravitch and Thernstron, eds., The Democracy Reader, pp. 202-205.

3. "A Bahá'í Declaration of Human Obligations," World Order: The Bahá'í Magazine vol. 13, no. 1 (April, 1947):3-9 (prepared for the U.N. Human Rights Conference at Geneva on May 19-20, 1948); "The Work of Bahá'ís in Promotion of Human Rights," World Order: The Bahá'í Magazine, vol. 14, no. 2 (May, 1948):53-54.

4. Charles Villa-Vicencio, A Theology of Reconstruction: Nation-Building and Human Rights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 118-119; for the stances of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in 1948, see David Little, John Kelsay and Abdulaziz A. Sachedina, Human Rights and the Conflict of Cultures: Western and Islamic Perspectives on Religious Liberty (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988), pp. 3-12, 33-52.

5. James W. Nickel, Making Sense of Human Rights: Philosophical Reflections on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987).

6. Bahá'u'lláh, "Tablet of the Kings," Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 247. For Bahá'u'lláh and his times see H.M. Balyuzi, Bahá'u'lláh, the King of Glory (Oxford: George Ronald, 1980); and Juan R. I. Cole, Modernity and the Millennium: The Genesis of the Bahá'í Faith in the Nineteenth Century Middle East (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998); for the Bahá'í faith see Peter Smith, The Babi and Bahá'í Religions: From Shi`i Messianism to a World Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).

7. Bahá'u'lláh, "Tablet of the Kings," Gleanings, pp. 129-130.

8. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988), p. 85.

9. Namik Kemal in Ebüzziya Tevfik, Nümûne-yi edebiyat-i Osmaniye (Istanbul: Matbaa-i Ebüzziya, 1308/1891), pp. 370-371; for context, see Serif Mardin, The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1962), and Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968, 2nd edn).

10. Juan R.I. Cole, "Democratic Thought and Iranian Millenarianism in the Nineteenth Century Middle East," International Journal of Middle East Studies (1992):10-12; Cole, Modernity and the Millennium, ch. 3.

11. Bahá'u'lláh, al-Kitab al-aqdas, p. 122; tr. Gleanings, pp. 335-36; Bahá'u'lláh/Afnans, 24 Ramadan 1305/5 June 1888 in Bahá'u'lláh, Athar-i Qalam-i A`la, 7:101; Bahá'u'lláh, letter of 1889, Iqtidarat va chand Lawh-i Digar (Tehran: MMMA, n.d.), pp. 28-29; `Abdu'l-Bahá, Risalih-yi madaniyyih (Hofheim-Langenhain: Bahá'í-Verlag, 1984), p. 19; I cite the Persian text and present a close paraphrase of the original Persian for technical purposes, since the Gail translation is inadequate here.

12. Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1979), p. 20 (Arabic no. 68).

13. Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1992), p. 45 (K72).

14. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 318; `Abdu'l-Bahá, Majmu`ih-yi khitabat-i hadrat-i `Abdu'l-Bahá', 3 vols. in one (Hofheim-Langenhain: Bahá'í Verlag, 1984), 1:148; I am grateful to Christopher Buck for this citation and for pointing out its signficance, insofar as equality fo rights is listed as a fundamental principle of the Bahá'í Faith.

15. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 182.

16. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1971),pp. 29, 35; `Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 146-148.

17. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 41; cf. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization, tr. Marzieh Gail (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 2nd edn 1970), p. 1.

18. Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance: The Messages from the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith to the Bahá'ís of Germany and Austria (Hofheim-Langenhain: Bahá'í-Verlag, 1982), p. 55.

19. For the issue of slavery in the Ottoman Empire see Ehud Toledano, The Ottoman Slave Trade and its Suppression (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982); for slavery in Iran see Charles Issawi, ed., The Economic History of Iran, 1800-1914 (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1971), pp. 127-28.

20. Bahá'u'lláh, Most Holy Book, p. 45 (K72); Bahá'u'lláh in Shahrokh Monjazeb, "The Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh to Queen Victoria (Lawh-i Malikih): An Introductory Note and Completed Translation," Bahá'í Studies Bulletin vol. 7, nos. 3-4 (June 1993): 5, 12.

21. Bahá'u'lláh, "Lawh-i Ra'is," Majmu`ih-yi Matbu`ih-yi Alvah-i Mubarakih, ed. Muhyi'd-Din Sabri (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1978), pp. 113-114.

22. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 100.

23. Ibid., p. 101.

24. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas (Chicago: Bahá'í Publishing Society, 1909-1916), p. 43.

25. Bahá'u'lláh, "Lawh-i Sultan," in Alvah-i Nazilih khitab bi Muluk va Ru'asa-yi Ard (Tehran: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 126 B.E.), p. 166.

26. Bahá'u'lláh, "Lawh-i Sultan," in Alvah-i Nazilih khitab bi Muluk, p. 178.

27. Joshua Mitchell, Not by Reason Alone: Religion, History and Identity in Early Modern Political Thought (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), p. 17.

28. `Abdu'l-Bahá, A Traveller's Narrative written to Illustrate the Episode of the Bab [Maqalih-yi Shakhs-i Sayyah], ed. and tr. E.G. Browne, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1891), 1:193; 2:158.

29. Ibid.

30. Ibid., 1:194-195; 2:158-59

31. Ibid., 1:203-204, 2:164.

32. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace , p. 52

33. Ibid., p. 197.

34. Ibid., p. 390.

35. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 101

36. The first passage discussed is in `Abdu'l-Hamid Ishraq-Khavari, ed., Ma'idih-yi Asmani, 9 vols. (Tehran: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1973) 5:17-18; the second remark, at Palo Alto, is in Mahmud Zarqani, Kitab-i Bada'i` al-Athar, 2 vols. (Hofheim-Langenhain: Bahá'í-Verlag, 1982), 1:294.

37. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1971), p. 26.

38. Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1968), p. 176

39. Ibid., p. 134

40. Ibid., p. 63.

41. Barney Leith, "Bahá'í Review: should the `red flag' law be repealed?" Bahá'í Studies Review 5, no. 1 (1995):27-35.

42. Bahá'u'lláh, "Lawh Malikah Wikturiya [Tablet to the Queen]," in Alvah-i Nazilih, p. 133, tr. Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1968), p. 34.

43. Bahá'u'lláh quoted in Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, God Passes By (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1970), p. 230.

44. Bahá'u'lláh, al-Kitab al-aqdas (Bombay, n.d.) p. 98; my literal paraphrase, necessary for this technical discussion; Shoghi Effendi's translation is Bahá'u'lláh, Most Holy Book, p. 54 (K93).

45. Bahá'u'lláh, "Bisharat," Majmu`ih-yi az alvah-i Jamal-i Aqdas-i Abha kih ba`d az kitab-i aqdas nazil shudih, (Hofheim-Langenhain: Bahá'í-Verlag, 1980), p. 15; Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 28.

46. Bahá'u'lláh, "Lawh-i dunya," Majmu`ih-yi az alvah . . .ba`d az kitab-i aqdas p. 53; tr. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 93.

47. Nikki R. Keddie, Religion and Rebellion in Iran: The Tobacco Protest of 1891-1892 (London: Cass, 1966).

48. `Abdu'l-Bahá', Risalih-yi Madaniyyih, pp. 30-31; tr. Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 24.

49. `Abdu'l-Bahá', Risalih-yi Madaniyyih, p. 118; tr. Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 100.

50. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá, 3:492.

51. Bahá'u'lláh, Most Holy Book, p. 37 (K48); Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 90, 128

52. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 109-111.

53. `Abdu'l-Bahá in the following works: Promulgation, p. 76; Paris Talks, p. 133; Foundations of World Unity, pp. 31, 59; Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, tr. Marzieh Gail et al. (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1978), pp. 126-127

54. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 68.

55. Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace (London: Oneworld, 1986), p. 9.

56. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 360-361.

57. `Abdu'l-Bahá', Some Answered Questions (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1981, rev. edn), pp. 273-277.

58. `Abdu'l-Bahá', Some Answered Questions (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1981, rev. edn), pp. 273-277.

59. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 153; cf. `Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Badi Shams, A Bahá'í Perspective on Economics of the Future, (New Delhi: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1989), p. 27; see also the reference supra.

60. Shoghi Effendi, quoted in Helen Hornby, Lights of Guidance (New Delhi: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983), p. 503.

61. Shoghi Effendi in Shams, Economics, p. 28

62. `Abdu'l-Bahá in Shams, Economics, p. 34.

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