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Abstract:
Quotations showing that Baha'u'llah and his authoritative interpreters state what fundamentalists of many faiths have been saying for centuries: that God's guidance revealed to humanity provides the best remedy for all human ills.

The Sovereign Remedy:
A Study of Bahá'í Sources

by Peter Terry

2000/2015
We are accustomed to religious fundamentalists saying, incessantly and even stridently, that the only solution to the problems that the individual person will encounter, or, for that matter, that the family, the neighborhood and municipality, the province, the nation, the world will face, can only be solved by God, and by a particular faith tradition – God’s religion. Most Bahá’ís are accustomed to thinking of themselves as progressives, liberals, and not fundamentalists of any kind. How astonishing it may be then, for Bahá’ís and their friends to discover that this doctrine is found in the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. This emphatic declaration is not merely the affirmation of a few followers of Bahá’u’lláh. Nor is it a doctrine devised by the leaders of the Bahá’í Faith. It is stated, repeatedly and in unmistakably clear language, in his writings, including in many passages which have been published in English translation, as well as in the original Arabic and Persian. Furthermore, this declaration is confirmed by similar statements found in the writings and talks of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and in letters written by and on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. This essay will attempt to correlate all of these statements.

First, we must define some terminology. The Universal Manifestation of God [mazhar ilahi umumi] is the term used in Bahá’í primary sources (Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, paragraphs 187, 272; ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, Chapters 30, 43, 59) to denote a prophet or messenger who is “endowed with constancy”. It is derived from the standard interpretation of an expression found in a single verse of the Qur’án (46: 35) — [UlU’l-‘azmi mina’r-rusuli], “those endowed with constancy among the messengers”. Each of these messengers “endowed with constancy” have revealed a book (Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, paragraphs 240, 245; ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, Chapter 43). In the "Kitáb-i-Íqán" — a work of “unsurpassed preeminence among the doctrinal […] writings of the Author of the Bahá’í Dispensation” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 140) — Bahá'u'lláh describes the power of the Word of God, revealed by every Universal Manifestation of God:

It is evident that nothing short of this mystic transformation could cause such spirit and behaviour, so utterly unlike their previous habits and manners, to be made manifest in the world of being. For their agitation was turned into peace, their doubt into certitude, their timidity into courage. Such is the potency of the Divine Elixir, which, swift as the twinkling of an eye, transmuteth the souls of men! (Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 157)

Likewise, these souls, through the potency of the Divine Elixir, traverse, in the twinkling of an eye, the world of dust and advance into the realm of holiness; and with one step cover the earth of limitations and reach the domain of the Placeless. It behooveth thee to exert thine utmost to attain unto this Elixir which, in one fleeting breath, causeth the west of ignorance to reach the east of knowledge, illuminates the darkness of night with the resplendence of the morn, guideth the wanderer in the wilderness of doubt to the well-spring of the Divine Presence and Fount of certitude, and conferreth upon mortal souls the honour of acceptance into the Ridvan of immortality. (Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 157-158)

They scoffed at the verses, a single letter of which is greater than the creation of the heavens and earth, and which quickeneth the dead of the valley of self and desire with the spirit of faith; and clamoured saying: "Cause our fathers to speed out of their sepulchres." Such was the perversity and pride of that people. Each one of these verses is unto all the peoples of the world an unfailing testimony and a glorious proof of His truth. Each of them verily sufficeth all mankind, wert thou to meditate upon the verses of God. In the above-mentioned verse itself pearls of mysteries lie hidden. Whatever be the ailment, the remedy it offereth can never fail. (Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 209-210)

In his subsequent writings, revealed after the open declaration of his prophetic mission in 1863, Bahá'u'lláh indicates that these writings contain the remedy for the problems of humanity. He is the true and divine Physician, and his teachings are the divine remedy for all ills:

Witness how the world is being afflicted with a fresh calamity every day. Its tribulation is continually deepening. From the moment the Súriy-i-Ra'ís (Tablet to Ra'ís) was revealed until the present day, neither hath the world been tranquillized, nor have the hearts of its peoples been at rest. At one time it hath been agitated by contentions and disputes, at another it hath been convulsed by wars, and fallen a victim to inveterate diseases. Its sickness is approaching the stage of utter hopelessness, inasmuch as the true Physician is debarred from administering the remedy, whilst unskilled practitioners are regarded with favor, and are accorded full freedom to act. (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh: XVI: 39-40; The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: 194)

The Book of God is wide open, and His Word is summoning mankind unto Him. No more than a mere handful, however, hath been found willing to cleave to His Cause, or to become the instruments for its promotion. These few have been endued with the Divine Elixir that can, alone, transmute into purest gold the dross of the world, and have been empowered to administer the infallible remedy for all the ills that afflict the children of men. No man can obtain everlasting life, unless he embraceth the truth of this inestimable, this wondrous, and sublime Revelation. (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh: XCII: 183)

The corrosion of ungodliness is eating into the vitals of human society; what else but the Elixir of His potent Revelation can cleanse and revive it? …The Word of God, alone, can claim the distinction of being endowed with the capacity for so great and far-reaching a change. (Lawh-i-Mullá 'Alí Akbar Ayádí, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh: XCIX: 200)

The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy… We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness, sore-tried and disillusioned. They that are intoxicated by self-conceit have interposed themselves between it and the Divine and infallible Physician. Witness how they have entangled all men, themselves included, in the mesh of their devices. They can neither discover the cause of the disease, nor have they any knowledge of the remedy. They have conceived the straight to be crooked, and have imagined their friend and enemy. (Lawh-i-Manakjí, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh: CVI: 213; The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh: 116)

Regard the world as the human body which, though at its creation whole and perfect, hath been afflicted, through various causes, with grave disorders and maladies. Not for one day did it gain ease, nay its sickness waxed more severe, as it fell under the treatment of ignorant physicians, who gave full rein to their personal desires, and have erred grievously…

That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled, and all-powerful and inspired Physician. This, verily, is the truth, and all else naught but error. (Lawh-i-Malkat Viktúriyá, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh: CXX: 255; The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: 40, 163; God Passes By: 211)

…that which hath streamed forth from the Most Exalted Pen is conducive to the glory, the advancement and education of all the peoples and kindreds of the earth. Indeed it is the sovereign remedy for every disease, could they but comprehend and perceive it. (Kalimát-i-Firdawsíyyih, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas: 73)

And further We have said: "That which God hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of the world is the union of its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful, and inspired Physician. By My life! This is the truth, and all else naught but error. Each time that Most Mighty Instrument hath come, and that Light shone forth from the Ancient Dayspring, He was withheld by ignorant physicians who, even as clouds, interposed themselves between Him and the world. It failed to recover, and its sickness hath persisted until this day. They indeed were powerless to protect it, or to effect a cure, whilst He Who hath been the Manifestation of Power amongst men was withheld from achieving His purpose, by reason of what the hands of the ignorant physicians have wrought. (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf: 62-63)

In other of his writings he is even more explicit, stating that his teachings are suitable for all situations, and indeed affirming that if his teachings are not embraced by humanity, there will be no end to the world's sufferings:

Were men to strictly observe that which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed in the Crimson Book, they could then well afford to dispense with the regulations which prevail in the world. (Lawh-i-Dunyá, TB: 90)

Beseech ye the One true God — exalted be His glory — not to deprive mankind of the ocean of true understanding, for were men but to take heed they would readily appreciate that whatever hath streamed from and is set down by the Pen of Glory is even as the sun for the whole world and that therein lie the welfare, security and true interests of all men; otherwise the earth will be tormented by a fresh calamity every day and unprecedented commotions will break out. God that the people of the world may be graciously aided to preserve the light of His loving counsels within the globe of wisdom. (Lawh-i-Maqsúd, TB: 166)

For were men to abide by and observe the divine teachings, every trace of evil would be banished from the face of the earth. However, the widespread differences that exist among mankind and the prevalence of sedition, contention, conflict and the like are the primary factors which provoke the appearance of the satanic spirit. Yet the Holy Spirit hath ever shunned such matters. A world in which naught can be perceived save strife, quarrels and corruption is bound to become the seat of the throne, the very metropolis, of Satan. (Lawh-i-Maqsúd, TB: 176-177)

As we can plainly read for ourselves, Bahá'u'lláh is not speaking to his followers alone, but to all of humanity. Nor does he indicate that his teachings offer one remedy among others…he clearly states that they are "the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of the world." However, in case some readers might be tempted to essay an alternative interpretation of these verses, here are some statements made by 'Abdu'l-Bahá which affirm this teaching of Bahá'u'lláh:

Every divine Manifestation is the very life of the world, and the skilled physician of each ailing soul. The world of man is sick, and that competent Physician knoweth the cure, arising as He doth with teachings, counsels and admonishments that are the remedy for every pain, the healing balm to every wound. It is certain that the wise physician can diagnose his patient's needs at any season, and apply the cure. Wherefore, relate thou the Teachings of the Abhá Beauty to the urgent needs of the present day, and thou wilt see that they provide an instant remedy for the ailing body of the world. Indeed, they are the elixir that bringeth eternal health. The treatment ordered by wise physicians of the past, and by those who follow after, is not one and the same, rather doth it depend on what aileth the patient; and although the remedy may change, the aim is always to bring the patient back to health. In the dispensations gone before, the feeble body of the world could not withstand a rigorous or powerful cure. For this reason did Christ say: 'I have yet many things to say unto you, matters needing to be told, but ye cannot bear to hear them now. Howbeit when that Comforting Spirit, Whom the Father will send, shall come, He will make plain unto you the truth.' Therefore, in this age of splendours, teachings once limited to the few are made available to all, that the mercy of the Lord may embrace both east and west, that the oneness of the world of humanity may appear in its full beauty, and that the dazzlings rays of reality may flood the realm of the mind with light. (Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá: 29: 59)

This statement by 'Abdu'l-Bahá has been available in English translation for many more years than might be supposed. The above cited selection from his writings was published in 1978. However, the very same letter, and other letters found in this volume were first published in 1916 (in "Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas"), and reprinted in 1943 (in "Bahá'í World Faith"):

Each Manifestation is the heart of the world and the proficient Physician of every patient. The world of humanity is sick, but that skilled Physician hath the healing remedy and He bestoweth divine teachings, exhortations and advices which are the remedy of every ailment and the dressing for every wound. Undoubtedly, the wise physician discovereth the needs of the patient at every season and prescribeth medicine. Therefore, when thou wilt compare the teachings of the Beauty of Abha with the requisitions and necessities of the present time, thou wilt conclude that they are to the sick body of the world the swift healing antidote; nay, rather they are the remedy of everlasting health. The prescription of the proficient physicians of the past and the future will not be the same; nay, rather they will be in accord with the ailment of the patient. Although the medicine is changed, yet all of these are for the sole purpose of the healing of the sick. In former dispensations the sick body of the world could not bear the strong and overpowering remedies. That is why His Highness the Christ said: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of the Comforter, who is sent by the Father, is come, He will guide you into all truth." Therefore, in this age of lights, specific teachings have become universal, in order that the outpouring of the Merciful One environ both the East and the West, the oneness of the Kingdom of humanity become visible and the luminosity of truth enlighten the world of consciousness. (Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas III: 538-539; Bahá'í World Faith: 380-381)

Turn thy attention toward the holy Tablets. Read and reflect upon the Tablets of Ishraghat, Tajalliyat, the Words of Paradise, the Glad-tidings, Tarazat and the Book of Akdas. These divine teachings in this day are the remedy of the ailments of the world of man and the dressing for the wounded body of existence; they are the Spirit of Life, the Ark of Salvation, the Magnet of the Everlasting Glory and the penetrative power in the reality of man! (Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas: III: 540)

Direct thine attention to the holy Tablets; read thou the Ishráqát, Tajallíyát, the Words of Paradise [Kalimát-i-Firdawsíyyih], the Glad Tidings [Bishárát], the Tarázát, the Most Holy Book [Kitáb-i-Aqdas]. Then wilt thou see that today these heavenly Teachings are the remedy for a sick and suffering world, and a healing balm for the sores on the body of mankind. They are the spirit of life, the ark of salvation, the magnet to draw down eternal glory, the dynamic power to motivate the inner self of man. (Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá: 29: 61)

Now, if thou wishest to know the divine remedy which will heal man from all sickness and will give him the health of the divine kingdom, know that it is the precepts and teachings of God. Guard them sacredly. (Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas: III: 587; Bahá'í World Faith: 376)

Now, if thou wishest to know the true remedy which will heal man from all sickness and will give him the health of the divine kingdom, know that it is the precepts and teachings of God. Focus thine attention upon them. (Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá: 133: 152)

Thus may this Sunrise flood the horizons, this melody gladden and make happy all the people, this divine remedy become the panacea for every disease, this Spirit of Reality become the cause of life for every soul. (Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas: I: 147)

And if thou art looking for the divine remedy which will cure the spirit of man of all diseases and make him obtain the health of the divine Kingdom, know that it is the precepts and teaching of God. Take the greatest care of them. (Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas: III: 654)

Other letters which proclaim this teaching have also been in print for many decades:

In like manner men of faith behold the reality of religion manifestly revealed in these heavenly teachings, and clearly and conclusively prove them to be the real and true remedy for the ills and infirmities of all mankind. Should these sublime teachings be diffused, mankind shall be freed from all perils, from all chronic ills and sicknesses…in political circles or amongst materialists, all shall bear witness that these teachings bestow a fresh life upon mankind and constitute the immediate remedy for all the ills of social life. None can find fault with any of these teachings, nay rather, once declared they will all be acclaimed, and all will confess their vital necessity… (Tablet to Dr. Forel, published in Star of the West: XIV: 4, pp. 101-109, 124; reprint, pp. 26, 27)

As these teachings are declared in churches, in mosques and in other places of worship, whether those of the followers of Buddha or of Confucius, in political circles or amongst materialists, all shall bear witness that these teachings bestow a fresh life upon mankind and constitute the immediate remedy for all the ills of social life. None can find fault with any of these teachings, nay rather, once declared they will all be acclaimed, and all will confess their vital necessity, exclaiming, "Verily, this is the truth and naught is there beside the truth but manifest error." (Tablet to Dr. Forel, published in Star of the West: XIV: 4, pp. 101-109, 124; Bahá'í World Faith: 348)

The purpose of these statements is to make it abundantly clear that the Divine religions, the holy precepts, the heavenly teachings, are the unassailable basis of human happiness, and that the peoples of the world can hope for no real relief or deliverance without this one great remedy. This panacea must, however, be administered by a wise and skilled physician, for in the hands of an incompetent all the cures that the Lord of men has ever created to heal men's ills could produce no health, and would on the contrary only destroy the helpless and burden the hearts of the already afflicted. (The Secret of Divine Civilization: 99)

In at least three of his talks, 'Abdu'l-Bahá discussed this subject, and these have been available in English translations for over a century:

The Prophets of God, the supreme Manifestations, are like skilled physicians, and the contingent world is like the body of man: the divine laws are the remedy and treatment. Consequently, the doctor must be aware of, and know, all the members and parts, as well as the constitution and state of the patient, so that he can prescribe a medicine which will be beneficial against the violent poison of the disease. In reality the doctor deduces from the disease itself the treatment which is suited to the patient, for he diagnoses the malady, and afterward prescribes the remedy for the illness. Until the malady be discovered, how can the remedy and treatment be prescribed? The doctor then must have a thorough knowledge of the constitution, members, organs and state of the patient, and be acquainted with all diseases and all remedies, in order to prescribe a fitting medicine. Religion, then, is the necessary connection which emanates from the reality of things; and as the supreme Manifestations of God are aware of the mysteries of beings, therefore, They understand this essential connection, and by this knowledge establish the Law of God. (Some Answered Questions: 40: 158)

Everyone who truly seeks and justly reflects will admit that the teachings of the present day emanating from mere human sources and authority are the cause of difficulty and disagreement amongst mankind, the very destroyers of humanity, whereas the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh are the very healing of the sick world, the remedy for every need and condition. In them may be found the realization of every desire and aspiration, the cause of the happiness of the world of humanity, the stimulus and illumination of mentality, the impulse for advancement and uplift, the basis of unity for all nations, the fountain source of love amongst mankind, the center of agreement, the means of peace and harmony, the one bond which will unite the East and the West. (The Promulgation of Universal Peace: 440)

The principles of Bahá'u'lláh are the remedy and balm for the wounded world; and without their inculcation, reconciliation between the nations will not be reached. These very teachings of Bahá'u'lláh are the greatest proofs of His claim. Such a power hath appeared from Him as will suffice to convince the whole world. The proof of the sun is its light and heat. ('Abdu'l-Bahá on Divine Philosophy: 45-46)

Some readers may be tempted to affirm that this may have been 'Abdu'l-Bahá's interpretation of Bahá'u'lláh, but that Shoghi Effendi may have modified this teaching in his letters to the Bahá’ís. On the contrary, Shoghi Effendi, writing as the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, whose interpretations of the Bahá’í teachings are believed to be infallible, affirms this message as clearly and emphatically as Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá:

And as to the world's evil plight, we need but recall the writings and sayings of Bahá'u'lláh, who, more than fifty years ago, declared in terms prophetic the prime cause of the ills and sufferings of mankind, and set forth their true and divine remedy . "Should the Lamp of Religion be hidden," He declares, "Chaos and confusion will ensue." How admirably fitting and applicable are these words to the present state of mankind! (Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 50; Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 1)

… Bahá'u'lláh's Message is, indeed, the only remedy for the ills afflicting the great multitudes of the Far East. (Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, p. 130)

…the Bahá’ís will be called upon to demonstrate to their fellow-men the perfection of Bahá’u’lláh's laws and World Order in such a manner that bewildered humanity will turn to them as their only refuge. (Dawn of a New Day, p. 181)

There is no refuge in the world today except the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. The believers must rest assured that, having the Faith, they have everything. (Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 2 May 1947, in Dawn of a New Day, p. 191)

A Faith Whose institutions — the pattern and crowning glory of the age which is to come — have been ignored and in some instances trampled upon and uprooted, Whose unfolding system has been derided and partly suppressed and crippled, Whose rising Order — the sole refuge of a civilization in the embrace of doom — has been spurned and challenged… (The Promised Day is Come, p. 17)

We are indeed living in an age which, if we would correctly appraise it, should be regarded as one which is witnessing a dual phenomenon. The first signalizes the death pangs of an order, effete and godless, that has stubbornly refused, despite the signs and portents of a century-old Revelation, to attune its processes to the precepts and ideals which that Heaven-sent Faith proffered it. The second proclaims the birth pangs of an Order, divine and redemptive, that will inevitably supplant the former, and within Whose administrative structure an embryonic civilization, incomparable and world-embracing, is imperceptibly maturing. The one is being rolled up, and is crashing in oppression, bloodshed, and ruin. The other opens up vistas of a justice, a unity, a peace, a culture, such as no age has ever seen. The former has spent its force, demonstrated its falsity and barrenness, lost irretrievably its opportunity, and is hurrying to its doom. The latter, virile and unconquerable, is plucking asunder its chains, and is vindicating its title to be the one refuge within which a sore-tried humanity, purged from its dross, can attain its destiny. (The Promised Day is Come, p. 17)

…the friends to build an edifice which neither time nor tide shall undermine and which needs must become the sole refuge for their sorely tried countrymen. (Unfolding Destiny, pp. 150-151)

If the Bahá'ís could evaluate their work properly they would see that whereas other forms of relief work are superficial in character, alleviating the sufferings and ills of men for a short time at best, the work they are doing is to lay the foundation of a new Spiritual Order in the world founded on the Word of God, operating according to the Laws He has laid down for this age. No one else can do this work except those who have fully realized the meaning of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, where as almost any courageous, sincere person can engage in relief work, etc. The believers are building a refuge for mankind. This is their supreme, sacred task and they should devote every moment they can to this task. (Directives from the Guardian, #178, p. 67)

He approves of your desire to teach the principles of the Faith through radio. But he urges you to do all you can to always, however small the reference you are able to make to it may be, clearly identify or associate what you are giving out with Bahá'u'lláh. The time is too short now for us Bahá'ís to be able to first educate humanity and then tell it that the source is this new World Faith. For their own spiritual protection people must hear of the name Bahá'í — then, if they turn blindly away they cannot excuse themselves by saying they never even knew it existed! For dark days seem still ahead of the world, and outside this Divine Refuge the people will not, we firmly believe, find inner conviction, peace and security. So they have a right to at least hear of the Cause as such. (Directives from the Guardian, #195, pp. 73-74; earlier edition, #117, p. 66)

In connection with your teaching work: What the Guardian wishes you to particularly emphasize in all your talks is the supreme necessity for all individuals and nations in this day to adopt in its entirety the social program given by Bahá'u'lláh for the reconstruction of the religious, economic and political life of mankind. He wishes you to explain and analyze the elements that help in raising this Divine World Order in the light of the present-day events and conditions in the world. Special stress, he feels, should be laid on the impending necessity of establishing a super-national, and sovereign world state, as the one described by Bahá'u'lláh. With the world becoming increasingly subject to tumults and convulsions never experienced before, the realization of such a necessity is entering into the consciousness of not only the wise and learned, but of the common people as well. The believers should, therefore, seize this opportunity to make a supreme effort to present, in convincing and eloquent language, those social and humanitarian teachings of the Faith which we believe to constitute the sole panacea for the innumerable ills afflicting our present-day world. (Directives from the Guardian, #196, p. 74; earlier edition, #117, pp. 67-68)

The Most Great Peace, on the other hand, as conceived by Bahá'u'lláh — a peace that must inevitably follow as the practical consequence of the spiritualization of the world and the fusion of all its races, creeds, classes and nations — can rest on no other basis, and can be preserved through no other agency, except the divinely appointed ordinances that are implicit in the World Order that stands associated with His Holy Name. In His Tablet, revealed almost seventy years ago to Queen Victoria, Bahá'u'lláh, alluding to this Most Great Peace, has declared: "That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful and inspired Physician. This, verily, is the truth, and all else naught but error... Consider these days in which the Ancient Beauty, He Who is the Most Great Name, hath been sent down to regenerate and unify mankind. Behold how with drawn swords they rose against Him, and committed that which caused the Faithful Spirit to tremble. And whenever We said unto them: `Lo, the World Reformer is come, ' they made reply: `He, in truth, is one of the stirrers of mischief.'" "It beseemeth all men in this Day," He, in another Tablet, asserts, "to take firm hold on the Most Great Name, and to establish the unity of all mankind. There is no place to flee to, no refuge that any one can seek, except Him. (The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 163)

I urge the entire Bahá'í community of the Western Hemisphere to…exert effort on further multiplication of groups, wider dissemination of literature, greater use of radio, closer contact with masses, more audacious proclamation of the Faith, more effective coordination of local and national activities aiming at fuller demonstration of the rights and claims of the Faith to be regarded as sole refuge of humanity in its hour of bitterest agony. (Messages to America, p. 76)

However much the need may be for physical healing, the supreme need of the world today is for spiritual healing. Life in this world is so relatively short — and at present it is fraught with a thousand difficulties and dangers; whereas life in the true sense is eternal, and for this eternal life people need some preparation in these turbulent times. "Your work to improve the health of people is a meritorious way of serving mankind, but it can never be compared with the work of illumining the souls and minds of men with the Light of Bahá'u'lláh. The people of the world are teeming millions, the Bahá'ís only a handful, yet they are the precious leaven that must leaven the lump. (Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 8 May 1942, #942, Lights of Guidance, 2nd revised version, 1988)

We can see more and more of the predictions of the beloved Master being fulfilled, as humanity persists in its waywardness and spiritual blindness. There is no other remedy except this Cause. (Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance, Volume I, p. 143)

We know that only the remedy of the "Divine Physician" can solve the problems facing humanity and we work day and night to give the message of Bahá'u'lláh to the masses... (Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance, Volume II, p. 96)

The more one observes the conditions of the world and the terrible problems confronting humanity, the more deeply one realizes that the only remedy is that which Bahá'u'lláh has brought, and yet, alas, the masses of the people seem to not yet be aware that the way out of our problems can only be a divine way, given by something far greater than human understanding! (Shoghi Effendi, High Endeavors, Messages to Alaska, p. 72)

The Cause has the remedy for all the world's ills. The reason why more people don't accept it is because the Bahá'ís are not always capable of presenting it to them in a way that meets the immediate needs of their minds. (Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual, dated 21 October 1943; published in "Canadian Bahá'í News," March 1967, p. 7)

The primary reason for anyone becoming a Bahá'í must of course be because he has come to believe the doctrines, the teachings, and the Order of Bahá'u'lláh are the correct thing for this stage in the world's evolution. The Bahá'ís themselves as a body have one great advantage, they are sincerely convinced that Bahá'u'lláh is right… (Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual, dated 5 July 1947; cited in Compilation on Bahá'í Scholarship, prepared by the Research Department, Bahá’í World Centre (BWC), 1983)

…the solution given to the world's problems by Bahá'u'lláh is the only solution — being Divine in origin — and most desperately needed; therefore we, the few who have caught the vision, should not waste our energies beating up and down the paths pursued by humanity, and which are not solving its ghastly present-day problems. We should concentrate on the Cause, because it is what is needed to cure the world. This is a sound attitude, for if we don't devote ourselves to the Bahá'í work and teaching, who will? (Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual, dated 5 July 1949; cited in Compilations on Bahá'í Scholarship, prepared by the Research Department, BWC, 1979, 1983)

We must turn aside from these vain imaginings and suppositions and philosophizings of the world, and fix our eyes upon the clear stream of the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. Out of these Teachings, and the society which they will create on this planet, will come a solution to all of the problems of men. (Letter dated 22 April 1954, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; cited in Compilations on Bahá'í Scholarship, prepared by the Research Department, (BWC), 1979, 1983)

Nor should anyone suppose that "the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world" pertains only to spiritual counsels and moral and ethical admonitions applicable to the individual alone and therefore subject to his or her personal choice. Every imaginable topic is discussed in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, a fact affirmed by Bahá'u'lláh, by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi alike:

Unveiled and unconcealed, this Wronged One hath, at all times, proclaimed before the face of all the peoples of the world that which will serve as the key for unlocking the doors of sciences, of arts, or knowledge, of well-being, of prosperity and wealth. (Bahá’u’lláh, Lawh-i-Dunyá, TB: 96)

The Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh are many. The precepts and teachings they contain are universal, covering every subject. He has revealed scientific explanations ranging throughout all the realms of human inquiry and investigation — astronomy, biology, medical science, etc. In the Kitáb-i-Íqán He has given expositions of the meanings of the Gospel and other heavenly Books. He wrote lengthy Tablets upon civilization, sociology and government. Every subject is considered. His Tablets are matchless in beauty and profundity. Even His enemies acknowledge the greatness of Bahá'u'lláh, saying He was the miracle of humanity. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace: 155)

Praise be to God that the spirit of the Holy Writings and Tablets which have been revealed in this wondrous Dispensation concerning matters of major or minor importance, whether essential or otherwise, related to the sciences and the arts, to natural philosophy, literature, politics or economics, have so permeated the world that since the inception of the world in the course of past Dispensations and bygone ages nothing like it has ever been seen or heard. Indeed if an avowed follower of Bahá'u'lláh were to immerse himself in, and fathom the depths of, the ocean of these heavenly teachings, and with utmost care and attention deduce from each of them the subtle mysteries and consummate wisdom that lie enshrined therein, such a person's life, materially, intellectually and spiritually, will be safe from toil and trouble, and unaffected by setbacks and perils, or any sadness or despondency. (Letter of Shoghi Effendi to the believers in Ádhirbáyján, dated 13 January 1923, translated from the Persian at the Bahá'í World Centre; cited in "The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith,"compiled by the Research Department, BWC, 1983)

Nor must the explicit solutions to all problems need be found in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh himself, for Shoghi Effendi indicates that future Bahá'í scholars will be able to find Bahá'í solutions to those problems which are unique to their own times:

Out of these teachings, and the society which they will create on this planet, will come a solution to all of the problems of men. Gradually, greater scholars, more deeply spiritual thinkers, will be able to answer from a Bahá'í standpoint many of these questions. It is not necessary that they should be in the divine text; they can be studied and learned in the future; but at present we have not had time to evolve the Bahá'í scholars who can deal with these subjects in detail, and take upon themselves to answer the abstruse points and the many unfounded doctrines which are advanced by modern philosophers. (Letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, dated 22 April 1954; cited in Compilation on Bahá'í Scholarship, prepared by the Research Department, BWC, 1983)

It would seem, based on this clear testimony as to the incomparable value of the Bahá'í teachings in addressing and resolving the myriad problems of our time, that one of the first aims of Bahá'í scholarship should be to correlate the Bahá’í teachings with those manifold ills which they alone can remedy, and to suggest ways in which those teachings may be applied, not in some distant future, but here and now. Inasmuch as the Bahá'í teachings form an organic whole (see below), every aspect of which is interrelated with all others, it is imperative that such scholarship investigate the full range of these Teachings as they pertain to specific problems. Shoghi Effendi articulated the importance of attaining to this overall understanding of the Bahá'í teachings in three letters written on his behalf to individual believers:

These various statements must be taken in conjunction with all the Bahá'í teachings; we cannot get a correct picture by concentrating on just one phrase. (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated 7 June 1946, quoted in "Arohanui,"p. 85)

He feels that many of the perplexities that arise in your mind could be dissipated if you always conceived of the teachings as one great whole with many facets. Truth may, in covering different subjects, appear to be contradictory, and yet it is all one if you carry the thought through to the end... (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated 24 February 1947, quoted in "The Importance of Deepening," p. 228)

Likewise he is constantly urging them to really study the Bahá'í teachings more deeply. One might liken Bahá'u'lláh's teachings to a sphere; there are points poles apart, and in between the thoughts and doctrines that unite them... (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated 5 July 1947, quoted in "The Importance of Deepening," pp. 228-229)

Hence, it is not just in a linear fashion, that is, by studying the statements of Bahá’u’lláh, and the interpretations of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi that we come to deepened insight into their meanings, but also by correlating various voicings of these teachings throughout the entire Bahá'í canon.

How Bahá’ís will distinguish these statements from the similar declarations of religious fundamentalists of various types is to be seen. Thus far, it seems that most Bahá’í authors have preferred to sidestep this issue altogether, and perhaps understandably so. For, on its surface, it appears to belong to the old order of society, in which much of humanity looked to one source of guidance, to the religious leadership and the holy scriptures which they alone could adequately understanding and interpret for the average person. The modern age has been created out of a great many diverse sources, and it remains to be seen how Bahá’ís will harmonize these apparently exclusivist statements with the broadly universal requirements of humanity in the 21st century.

Bibliography

    'Abdu'l-Bahá, "Bahá'í World Faith," Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1971.

    'Abdu'l-Bahá, "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá," Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1978.

    'Abdu'l-Bahá, "Some Answered Questions," Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1990.

    'Abdu'l-Bahá, "Tablet to Dr. Forel," published in "Star of the West," XIV: 4, pp. 101-109, 124.

    'Abdu'l-Bahá, "Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas," Chicago: Bahai Publishing Society, 1916, volumes I & III.

    'Abdu'l-Bahá, "The Promulgation of Universal Peace,"Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982.

    'Abdu'l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization,"Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1970.

    Bahá'u'lláh, "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,"Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1971.

    Bahá'u'lláh, "Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh,"Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1971.

    Bahá'u'lláh, "Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas," Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988.

    Bahá'u'lláh, "The Kitáb-i-Aqdas,"Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1992.

    Bahá'u'lláh, "The Kitáb-i-Íqán,"Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1970.

    Bahá'u'lláh, "The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh, Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1967.

    Shoghi Effendi, "Dawn of a New Day: Messages to India 1923-1957,"New Delhi: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1970.

    Shoghi Effendi, "Bahá'í Administration,"Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1974.

    Shoghi Effendi, "High Endeavors, Messages to Alaska,"Anchorage: National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Alaska, 1976.

    Shoghi Effendi, "Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand,"Australia: n.d.

    Shoghi Effendi, "The Light of Divine Guidance,"volumes I & II, Hofheim-Langenhain: Bahá'í-Verlag, 1982, 1985.

    Shoghi Effendi, Letter of Shoghi Effendi to the believers in Ádhirbáyján, dated 13 January 1923, translated from the Persian by the Bahá'í World Centre; in Compilation prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, dated January 1983, entitled "The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith")

    On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, "From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual, dated 21 October 1943; published in "Canadian Bahá'í News,"March 1967, p. 7; in Compilation on scholarship prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, dated 1980.

    On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, "From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual,"dated 7 June 1946, quoted in "Arohanui,"p. 85; in Compilation on scholarship prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, dated 1980.

    On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, "From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual, dated 5 July 1949; in Compilation on scholarship prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, dated 1980.

    On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, "From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual, dated 5 July 1947; in Compilation on scholarship prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, dated 1980; quoted in "The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith,"pp. 228-229.

    On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, "From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian,"dated 24 February 1947, quoted in "The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith,"compiled by the Research Department, BWC, 1983, p. 228.

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