Conqueror of Hearts table of contents
The Journey of Truth Seeking
Of all the basic principles of Bahá'u'lláh for the safeguarding
of the world order and unity of mankind, this principle of independent
investigation of truth is one of the few which is directed solely to the
individual, while the others are basically collective and primarily involve a
social change. For example, individuals are not responsible to adopt the
international language or to formulate a universal system of education, but
they do have to investigate the truth and to conduct the investigation
independently of others. It is equally significant for us to realize that this
principle is a two-edged sword; one edge separate falsehood from the truth, the
other protects the individual believer against his own ego when confronted with
This principle does not only apply to man's spiritual life, but it is
important to know that it is equally applicable to whatever he desires to do.
He goes through this process of investigation in all his major and minor
actions. It is indeed inevitable and one of the most fundamental prerogatives
of every individual.
The question is whether the attitude of Bahá'í parents toward
their children should be to bring them up as Bahá'ís or to leave
them to themselves, on the very wrong assumption and slender hope that the
children would find the Faith by themselves.
The latter is a misinterpretation of Divine Utterances and one of the
greatest factors that contribute to the decrease in numbers, the spiritual
destruction of Bahá'í families, and the lack of progress in the
work of the Faith in many lands.
It is indeed unfortunate that some newly-enrolled believers, due to their lack
of knowledge about our all-comprehensive Faith, and in their desire to tread
the path of least resistance and to silence the voice of their conscience,
misconstrue the very fundamental principle of man's eternal life. Thus the
gift of God entrusted to us to be used as a torch which casts its rays through
the obscure paths of life is changed into a fire which consumes every fiber of
our spiritual entity and allows nothing to survive, except the skeleton of our
physical creation, destined to be transformed into dust.
I found to my utter grief that some Bahá'í families, though
themselves active members of different Bahá'í communities, due to
their grave misunderstanding of this fundamental principle, have not uttered
even a word to their children about our eternal legacy--the glorious Faith.
Unmindful of the consequences of this ignorance in all the hearts and minds of
their dear ones, they act as if they belong to a secret society. There is not
a single token of the Faith in their well-furnished houses. I even found some
of them ashamed to mention their religious affiliation. Thus the Faith remains
unknown to their children who, I am sure, will disperse from their homes never
gazing at the immense horizon floodlit with the rising Sun of Truth.
When asked, the parents have invariably answered: "We want them to find it by
themselves and investigate it independently."
Such answers brought so much sorrow to my heart that I could not find adequate
words and expressions to pour out my feelings.
"To find it by themselves." What a false dictum. How will they find it?
Through whom and from where, if not in their own homes, from their own parents'
loving and vigilant directions? If we do not pity our children and throw them
to the devouring waves of this turbulent ocean called "society," how do we
expect others to pity them, hold their hands, save them and set them on the
shores of safety and security?
If this is what we mean by "independent investigation," why do we then exert
our utmost to arrange schools for them, register their names well ahead of
time, even many years in advance for attendance universities? Why do we keep
on urging them to attend all the classes at every period, encourage them to do
better work and take pride in their daily advancement in what is called arts
and sciences? Why do we not leave them free to find their own way to
educational institutions and abandon them to their own choice, never asking
them whether they spent their days in schools, or in bars and gambling
For material education we surely urge our children to go into special
training, require discipline, and we are vigilant to see that they will never
lose any opportunity. But alas! In this, the most vital matter, which is like
unto sunshine in all the aspects of the lives of our dear ones, and which
insures their eternal happiness, we remain heedless, nonchalant and
Should our intention be limited to raising ourselves from the distress of
unbelief, doubt and scepticism to the condition of recognition, faith and
certitude in the truth of the Mission of Bahá'u'lláh, when do
reach this ultimate goal and recognize Him s the Divine Educator, then our
journey ends. It means that thereafter every act of Bahá'u'lláh
and every utterance revealed by Him will have to be accepted as the
manifestation of truth; and the spirit of investigation will help the traveler
who has embarked on this journey to discard the impurities of falsehood from
the gems of truth and advance on this path until every member of his physical
temple and even every hair will find tongues to proclaim the light of the
faith ignited in his heart and soul.
But the journey is not ended. Having reached the station of faith, the
traveler is at the shore of an endless and fathomless ocean of divine
utterances. He has to plunge into it, not to examine the truth of every word,
principle or precept. Nay, on the contrary, with a heart full of certitude and
an attitude of utter humility and supplication the believer will meditate and
pray and then seek to discover pearls of wisdom and will behold beauty and
innumerable mysteries enshrined in every word.
The Object of all Knowledge
Before turning to the main subject of this letter, let us refer to the
following two extracts from the immortal Narrative of Nabíl to refresh
our memory of the glorious deeds of the heroes and saints of our beloved Cause.
These illustrate the two aspects of the problem at hand will, I feel sure, shed
much light on our research.
"As soon as the Call from Sh
íráz reached his ears, Hujjat
deputed of his disciples, Mullá Iskandar, in whom he reposed the fullest
confidence, to enquire into the whole matter and to report to him the result of
his investigations. Utterly indifferent to the praise and censure of his
countrymen, whose integrity he suspected and whose judgment he disdained, he
sent his delegate to Sh
íráz with explicit instructions to
conduct a minute and independent enquiry. Mullá Iskandar attained the
presence of the Báb and felt immediately the regenerating power of His
influence. He tarried forty days in Sh
íráz, during which
time he imbibed the principles of the Faith and acquired, according to his
capacity, a knowledge of the measure of its glory.
"With the approval of the Báb he returned to Zanján. He arrived
at a time when all the leading `ulamás of the city had assembled in the
presence of Hujjat. As soon as he appeared, Hujjat enquired whether he
believes in, or rejected, the new Revelation. Mullá Iskandar submitted
the writings of the Báb which he had brought with him, and asserted that
he whatever should be the verdict of his master, the same would he deem it his
obligation to follow. `What!' angrily exclaimed Hujjat. `But for the presence
of this distinguished company, I would have chastised you severely. How dare
you consider matters of belief to be dependant upon the approbation or
rejection of others?' Receiving from the hand of his messenger the copy of the
Qayyúmu'l-Asmá', he, as soon as he had perused a page of that
book, fell prostrate upon the ground and exclaimed: `I bear witness that these
words which I have read proceed from the same Source as that of the
Qur'án. Whoso has recognized the truth of that sacred Book must needs
testify to the Divine origin of these words, and must needs submit to the
precepts inculcated by their Author. I take you, members of this assembly, as
my witnesses: I pledge such allegiance to the Author of this Revelation that
should He ever pronounce the night to be the day, and declare the sun to be a
shadow, I would unreservedly submit to His judgment, and would regard His
verdict as the voice of Truth. Whose denies Him, him will I regard as the
repudiator of God Himself.' With these words he terminated the proceedings of
that gathering." (The Dawn-Breakers, Nabíl's Narrative,
178-179 (Bahá'í Publishing Committee, New York, 1932, 1953
"It was in those days that his special envoy, Mash
whom he had confidentially despatched to Sh
íráz with a
petition and gifts from him to the Báb, arrived at Zanján and
delivered into his hands, while he was addressing his disciples, a sealed
letter from his Beloved. In the Tablet he received, the Báb conferred
upon him one of His own titles, that of Hujjat, and urged him to proclaim from
the pulpit, without the least reservation, the fundamental teachings of His
Faith. No sooner was he informed of the wishes of his Master than he declared
his resolve to devote himself to the immediate enforcement of whatever
injunction that Tablet contained. He immediately dismissed his disciples, bade
them close their books, and declared his intention of discontinuing his courses
of study. `Of what profit,' he said, `are study and research to those who have
already found the Truth, and why strive after learning when He who is the
Object of all knowledge is made manifest?'" (The Dawn-Breakers
Every human temple, regardless of race, color, country or clime, is considered
by Bahá'u'lláh as a mine in which God has, through His
inscrutable wisdom and boundless love, deposited gems which are to be
discovered, polished and cultured through the process of proper, divine,
all-embracing education. These gems are the latent powers and talents with
which every individual is endowed. When these powers and talents are
discovered and correctly trained, the world of humanity will become the mirror
of Heaven in which all divine perfections are gloriously reflected.
Divine Education--The Root of Knowledge
The vast subject of Bahá'í education has many ramifications
stretching over all aspects of man's life, and our Bahá'í
literature is replete with elucidations which reveal to our eyes the most
obscure corners of the human soul. How lamentable that mankind stubbornly
abandons these abundant divine bounties and chooses the path of disgrace and
It is still more lamentable if those who believe in the Supreme Manifestation
of God deprive themselves of following His loving advice. Until such time as
we will have authorized classifications and translations of the holy texts, I
shall limit myself in this letter to the references on parents' obligations
toward their children.
We must first know that there is a vast difference between education, in the
sense of character training, and instruction. The beloved Master has
emphasized that education must always have priority over mere accumulation of
knowledge. To know many facts, to memorize numerous formulae and to repeat
parrot-like theories of science is not honor for man. True honor lies in man's
education and moral conduct which enable him to be the mirror of divine
perfections and shine like unto a guiding star, ready to die rather than to
apply his knowledge for the destruction of mankind.
It is toward this ultimate goal that we are encouraged to advance. Divine
education is considered by Bahá'u'lláh to rank as "the most
exalted" amongst His commandments and is a "great protection" for the Cause of
God. Educational institutions must first instill divine laws and precepts in
the hearts and minds of children. Thus the children grow up to worship God and
to love one another as His sons and daughters. Immediately after giving us
this commandment, Bahá'u'lláh warns us against excess of any
system which, individually or collectively, inculcates prejudice and
intolerance in the innocent hearts of our children.
Let us take a lesson from nature. When a mother conceives, nature creates a
certain condition in her physical temple which forms the growing fetus. In
that proper atmosphere the physical growth of the child starts. The parents,
though intensely eager to behold the face of their little ones, never force its
birth. On the contrary, they patiently await the approach of the hour
appointed by providence and keep every other thing in perfect harmony with the
natural process. When that blessed moment comes through the operation of
natural forces, the children are born into this immense world.
Now let us apply the same rule to the second home of the child into which it
is introduced through its physical birth.
By divine education at home we mean the creation of an atmosphere in which the
child can breathe the spiritual powers of this Age, and in due time like unto a
rose, may blossom out, unfold, and proclaim his existence in the garden of God
under the care and protection of the Divine Gardener. This cannot be achieved
by force or by any form of compulsion, just as the child's birth cannot be
realized by outside forces. We never try to pull the flower out of its stem in
winter. The flowers will adorn the stems in due time, according to rules and
regulations especially conferred upon the plants by the Creator.
Let us illustrate this by giving an example. The children who grow up in
houses where the music of Mozart or Beethoven is often played surely grow to
enjoy that kind of music. This is achieved because the atmosphere of the house
was filled with such melodies. The child has breathed them in. As a matter of
fact this united aim becomes a focus which brings parents very close to each
Should the parents read the Writings each morning and evening as commanded by
the Ancient Beauty; hold firesides in their homes where they show love, respect
and reverence to the people regardless of race, class and creed; recite the
obligatory prayers; fact; attend the Nineteen Day Feasts; celebrate the nine
Holy Days; and in all of these commemorations have the children comprehend the
importance and significance of each act, then there remains nothing for the
parents to fear. They will proudly watch the growing flowers in their own
homes. Thus the spirit of the Cause will fill every layer in the atmosphere of
the house. The warmth and light of this divine love emanated from such a home
will definitely help the little ones to grow into fruitful trees in the Garden
of God, and in due course they will proclaim not only by their words but also
by the sanctity of their deeds that they are gathered under the banner of the
Greatest Name; committed to be soldiers in the army of life, winning victories
in the forefront of the battle lines of teaching, consolidation and pioneering
fields of service.
Our Writings further indicate that expectant mothers are advised to recite the
words of God to foster the spiritual growth of the conceived children. After
the birth of the child, the mother is exhorted to say prayers as she puts her
dear ones to bed. The influence of these words on the infants' hearts has been
described as the influence of the light and the heat of sunshine on the growing
flowers. As the children grow, the parents are called on to each them the
Words of God. At the age of five they are to be gathered together to receive
divine education. We clearly observe that education is emphasized and is given
the first rank in the order of importance. It is explicitly recommended to
first teach the children courtesy and reverence, after which comes the
acquisition of knowledge.
Need for Early Spiritual Training
Knowledge must go hand in hand with divine education, otherwise man's learning
will be governed by greed and lust. These qualities will change science into a
disgrace and bring about the eternal destruction of all man's achievements.
`Abdu'l-Bahá, in His love for children, begs the friends to do their
utmost to give proper Bahá'í education to their dear ones so they
may understand the importance of the practice of its precepts in their lives.
He promises that the children trained in the divine gardens of love and in
homes imbued with the Bahá'í spirit will learn in one month what
others will learn in twelve. He urges the parents to be diligent in directing
the frail steps of their little ones to the path of eternal glory. All of this
should be done with tender affection, loving care and kindness. He warns us
against beating the children and making them the victims of tongue lashings and
rebukes. Experience shows that such treatment is detrimental to the proper
growth of the child's mental, spiritual and even his physical powers; it dams
the opening and inflow of his latent powers. In addition, he grows to hate his
home and all that pertains to it.
We must always remember this fundamental principle of the Master affirming
that education of the child who is more than fifteen is extremely difficult
and, in some cases, impossible. Can we straighten a branch when it has become
hard and stiff? Such children, we are warned by the Master, will be left in
the abyss of misery, the victims of inequity, arrogance, pride and ignorance,
and very often of mental deficiencies. They will be despised and humiliated,
sick and invalid and forever ashamed of themselves. They will barely pass the
tests of life.
What will they think of their parents who had the torch of guidance and did
not try to show it to their loved ones?
Parents who thus reduce their offspring to such depths of misery through their
negligence will surely be responsible to God. We are emphatically warned by
the Ancient Beauty that He will charge the parents with this negligence and
will consider this as a great sin--a sin which will never be forgiven.
The injunction of Bahá'u'lláh to parents about the divine
education of their children is so emphatic that, as pointed out by Him, those
who ignore such a responsibility are, in the sight of God, deprived of their
rights of parenthood.
I appeal to the hearts of the parents who desire nothing but the welfare of
their children, the apples of their eyes, or, as the Arabs say, "the fragments
of their hearts which walk on earth." I supplicate them to ponder upon the
conditions prevailing in the world and find out for themselves whether children
need protection or whether they should be left to themselves and to the cruel
influence of life.
That the world is too much with us and that society is overcome by many social
diseases no sound mind can ever deny. Pollution has penetrated into all the
pores of man's existence and the swamps of moral corruption have flooded the
farthest and driest deserts and the most remote corners of every barren waste.
Carnal desires and animal passions are unleashed and all aim to be gratified.
Gratification of this beast of lust is to be fulfilled by all means--at the
risk of breaking every sacred standard in man's life. To accede to the desires
of self has become a universal verdict.
Plunged into this overtly immoral world, where the raging beast of lust is the
domineering monarch, caught in the throes of its devilish machinations, unable
to separate the diabolical from the divine, and almost insensible to benevolent
love, pity and reverence, our children, our poor children, find themselves
engulfed by their own urges within and hypnotized by their dazzling and
alluring lights. Don't they need lamps at their feet, an inherent and powerful
force to enable them to live as true men, to walk with celestial pride and to
lead a clean, a holy and pure life as a prelude to the eternal one?
Protection of Bahá'u'lláh's Teachings
Whatever the explanation the world may give and however it justifies its
present plight, it is crystal clear to the adherents of our Faith that the road
projected by Bahá'u'lláh through this world enveloped in darkness
is illumined by the protective measures of His teachings.
The unpardonable forgetfulness and negligence of parents in their attitude
toward their children are the result of wrong deductions and will ultimately
bring the children to the abyss of disgrace and shame, and in the life to come
will hold them subject to God's justice.
If we live in a house without a lamp, the consequences of unseen troubles and
even disasters will no doubt await us. If we do not ignite the fire of faith
in the hearts of our little ones, the decline of their mental, physical and
spiritual lives will immediately set in. Where there is light everything is
properly placed and clearly seen; and the residents of the house can use
everything with proper perspective. The same thing is true of the light of
faith when ignited in the hearts and souls of children. Then all their
God-given gifts, talents and capacities will function harmoniously and
As the immense horizon of life stretches in front of our children's eyes, we
see them torn between two forces. The one pulls them down to the point where
all their pleasures turn into agony, and the other, symbolized by a voice
within them, which seeks to life them to summits of splendors where even death
is changed into glory and eternity. Look at them with their expectant,
innocent and bewildered eyes, undecided amidst the controversial and devouring
forces of life. Do we sit comfortably in our seats as Roman spectators and
watch human lives thrown into the mouths of beasts? Or, as honest parents, do
we help them, guide them, and assist them to raise their eyes and behold the
rising Sun of Glory?
Backbiting Quenches the Spirit
From my experience I know of one calamity which pitilessly brings gradual
death to the growing spirit of our children. This disaster is very often an
undesired guest, but alas, sometimes is invited, given the best seats--our
hearts--and is offered the sweetest moments of our precious lives. It is like
the freezing breeze of midwinter which passes through almond groves, kills the
blossoms and leaves the poor farmers who were comfortably settled in their warm
rooms, poverty-stricken and sorrowful.
This hideous intruder is backbiting. No matter how much we endeavor to bring
up our children in the spirit of the Faith, to teach them its laws, principles
and precepts, if there is the slightest whisper of backbiting in our homes, let
us be sure that our dear little ones are gone forever and irretrievably
The perilous effects are so imperceptible that one's own ego is not warned and
the parents are not alerted to the symptoms of the spreading spiritual ailment.
One of the old teachers of the Cause used to say that we try to pull a very
heavy load to the top story of the house, and when the load is up, an ignorant
man applies the sharp edge of his knife to the rope carrying the load. The
downfall is sure. All the efforts of the many laborers who pulled the load are
lost forever and in one instant. The same thing is true of the poisonous
atmosphere created by this hideous guest in our own abode.
We think the children are playing with their toys and are not paying attention
to what we are saying. It may be true that they do not consciously respond to
the conversation of their elders, but their eyes see and their ears hear and
register things within.
The children's hearts and souls are like clean mirrors or containers of pure,
crystal and translucent water. Every word uttered by us against other friends,
like a drop of ink, sinks deep into the transparent hearts. At the beginning,
the color may not seem to have changed, but we know that it is absorbed with
all its poisonous effects. Should the drops of the poison be repeated, the
child's whole existence becomes victim to a spiritual disease, the first
symptoms of which are his reluctance to attend Bahá'í classes,
his grudges, and even sometimes his hatred, toward other
What do we expect our children to do when we as elders sit in our homes and
talk against our fellow Bahá'ís, members of committees and local
Spiritual Assemblies, and perhaps the secretary or a member of the National
Assembly? The children look up to these divine institutions and we lower them
to the dust in their growing minds and loving hearts. Then when they are of
age, they do not feel any sense of security and safety in the friends' homes,
nor do they trust Bahá'í committees, local Spiritual Assemblies
or the National Spiritual Assembly. That is why, when we ask them to attend
classes or summer schools, their reaction is obviously antagonistic. It is
exactly as if we paralyze the child and then ask him to run, or starve him and
then demand the performance of athletic feats.