- Scholarship and Achievement
- General Principles of Bahá'í Scholarship
- Purpose of Bahá'í Scholarship
- Refutation of Attacks on the Faith
- Deeper Understanding of Bahá'í Faith
- Contributing to Scholarly Development
- Teaching the Faith
- Attitudes of Bahá'í Scholars
- Some Specific Disciplines
- Some Pitfalls
|1. Scholarship and Achievement|
|Scholarship has a high station in the Bahá'í teachings
and Bahá'í scholars have a great responsibility to a
growing, divinely-guided world society. The ascertainment of truth and
the acquisition of a fuller understanding of the subjects of their
scholarship are worthy and high endeavours.|
From comments of the Research Department of the Universal House of
Justice on the
Bahá'í Studies Seminar on Ethics and Methodology dated 3 January 1979. 
Bahá'í scholarship is of great importance in the development and
consolidation of the Bahá'í community.
From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice dated 3 January
The Supreme Body has informed us that it believes that both the International
Teaching Centre and the Boards of Counsellors can render valuable services in the
field of Bahá'í scholarship by encouraging budding scholars, and also by
promoting within the Bahá'í community an atmosphere of tolerance for the
views of others.
From a letter of the International Teaching Centre dated 22 March 1981. 
The heart of 'Abdu'l-Bahá longeth, in its love, to find that
Bahá'í young people, each and all, are known throughout the world for
their intellectual attainments.
From a letter of the International Teaching Centre dated 22 March 1981. 
It is just as important for the Bahá'í young boys and girls to
become properly educated in Colleges of high standing as it is to be spiritually
developed. The mental as well as the spiritual side of the youth has to be developed
before he can serve the Cause efficiently.
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 28 November 1926, cited in
Education 63. 
What he (Shoghi Effendi) wants the Bahá'ís to do is to study
more, not to study less. The more general knowledge, scientific or otherwise, they
possess, the better. Likewise he is constantly urging them to really study the
Bahá'í teachings more deeply.
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 5 July 1947, cited in
Deepening 38. 
The Cause needs more Bahá'í scholars - people who not only are
devoted to it and believe in it and are anxious to tell others about it, but also who
have a deep grasp of the Teachings and their significance, and who can correlate its
beliefs with the current thoughts and problems of the people of the world.
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 21 October 1943, cited in
Deepening 35-36. 
Bahá'í scholars and writers will no doubt, gradually appear, and
will, as promised by Bahá'u'lláh lend a unique support to the Faith.
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, cited in US Bahá'í
News, August 1936. 
As the Cause develops it will need more and more people who are really versed
in their branch of learning and who can interpret the teachings to suit the facts.
|From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, cited
in Bahá'í Youth 16. 
It is not difficult to visualize the House of Justice, as
Bahá'u'lláh's World Order unfolds, requiring the services of
distinguished Bahá'í scientists in all fields.
|See  above.
Bahá'u'lláh considered education to be one of the most
fundamental factors of a true civilization - this education, however, in order to be
adequate and fruitful should be comprehensive in nature and should take into
consideration not only the physical and the intellectual side of man but also his
spiritual and ethical aspects. This should be the programme of the
Bahá'í youth all over the world.
|From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 9
July 1931, cited in Deepening 25. 
2. General Principles of Bahá'í Scholarship|
|The Bahá'í principle of the harmony of religion and science
compels all Bahá'ís to protect themselves from prevalent diseases
resulting from the divorce of faith and reason.
The sundering of science and religion is but one example of the
tendency of the human mind (which is necessarily limited in its capacity) to
concentrate on one virtue, one aspect of truth, one goal, to the exclusion of others.
This leads, in extreme cases, to fanaticism and the distortion of truth, and in all
cases to some degree of imbalance and inaccuracy.
|See  above.|
It has become customary in the West to think of science and religion as
occupying two distinct - and even opposed - areas of human thought and activity. This
dichotomy can be characterized in the pairs of antitheses: faith and reason; value and
fact. It is a dichotomy which is foreign to Bahá'í thought and should
be regarded with suspicion by Bahá'í scholars in every field.
The principle of the harmony of religion and science means not only
that religious teachings should be studied in the light of reason and evidence as well
as of faith and inspiration, but also that everything in creation, all aspects of
human life and knowledge, should be studied in the light of revelation as well as of
purely rational investigation. In other words, a Bahá'í scholar, when
studying a subject, should not lock out of his mind any aspect of truth that is known
|See  above.
The believers must recognize the importance of intellectual honesty and humility. In past dispensations many errors arose because the believers in God's Revelation were over-anxious to encompass the Divine Message within the framework of their limited understanding, to define doctrines where definition was beyond their power, to explain mysteries which only the wisdom and experience of a later age would make comprehensible, to argue that something was true because it appeared desirable and necessary. Such compromises with essential truth, such intellectual pride, we must scrupulously avoid.
The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance 87-88. 
In scientific investigation, when searching after the facts of any matter, a Bahá'í must, of course, be entirely open-minded, but in his interpretation of the facts, and his evaluation of
evidence we do not see by what logic he can ignore the truth of the Bahá'í Revelation which he has already accepted; to do so would, we feel, be both hypocritical and unscholarly.
|See  above.
As a Bahá'í, you know that what Bahá'u'lláh teaches about the purpose of human life, the nature of the human being and the proper conduct of human lives, is divinely revealed and
therefore true. However, it will inevitably take time for you not only to study the Bahá'í teachings so that you clearly understand them, but also to work out how they modify your
professional concepts. This is, of course, not an unusual predicament for a scientist. How often in the course of research is a factor discovered which requires a revolution in
thinking over a wide field of human endeavour.
Universal House of Justice, Messages 1968-1973 111-112. 
We should be confident that there is consistency in the universe, that the Manifestation is aware of that consistency, and we must ourselves be aware that the principle of the harmony of religion and science is a dynamic one which will require new levels of understanding of true science and true religion alike.
From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, dated
22 June 1977. 
3. Purpose of Bahá'í Scholarship |
3.1 Refutation of Attacks on the Faith:
|There is an answer in the teachings for everything; unfortunately the majority of the Bahá'ís, however intensely devoted and sincere they may be, lack for the most part the necessary scholarship and wisdom to reply to and refute the claims and attacks of people with some education and standing.
From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated 25 September 1942, cited in
Unfolding Destiny 439. 
3.2 Deeper Understanding of the Bahá'í Faith:|
|In connection with the question as to whether Bahá'ís should be
familiar with the different sciences and branches of study, Shoghi Effendi wishes me
to inform you that both Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá have given a
very high position to men of culture and knowledge and Bahá'u'lláh says
in one of His Tablets that respect shown to such people is incumbent upon all
Bahá'ís. Furthermore there is no doubt that familiarity with different
branches of study widens one's point of view and we can then understand and realize
the significance of the Bahá'í Movement and its principles much more.
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 14 December 1924. 
The Guardian has always advised young people to study deeply subjects as
History, Economics and Sociology as they are all related to the teachings and aid in
understanding the Faith.
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, cited in Bahá'í
Youth 15. 
3.3 Contributing to Scholarly Development:|
|History, Economics or Sociology ... are fields in which Bahá'ís not only take a great interest but also cover subjects which our teachings cast an entirely new light upon.|
|See  above.|
Psychology is still a very young and inexact science, and as the years go by Bahá'í psychologists, who know from the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh the true pattern of human life, will be able to make great strides in the development of this science, and will help profoundly in the alleviation of human suffering.12
|See  above.|
Bahá'u'lláh has given us a few basic principles which should
guide future Bahá'í economists in establishing such institutions which
will adjust the economic relationships of the world.
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated 26 December, 1935.|
As more and more Bahá'ís enter the world of higher learning
they will have the opportunity of exerting great influence in bringing about in human
consciousness and outlook that harmony of religion and science which is so great a
principle of their Faith.1
The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh throw light on so many aspects of
human life and knowledge that a Bahá'í must learn, earlier than most, to
weigh the information that is given to him rather than to accept it blindly. A
Bahá'í has the advantage of the Divine Revelation for this age, which
shines like a searchlight on so many problems that baffle modern thinkers.
The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance 96.
3.4 Teaching the Faith:|
|The University training which you are receiving at present will be of immense help to you in your efforts to present the Message in intellectual circles. In these days when people are so skeptical about religion and look with so much contempt towards religious organizations and movements, there seems to be more need than ever for our young Bahá'ís to be well-equipped intellectually, so that they may be in a position to present the Message in a befitting way, and in a manner that would convince every unbiased observer of the effectiveness and power of the Teachings.|
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 5 May 1934, cited in
Shoghi Effendi's hope is that they will ... become able and devoted speakers
on the Cause and subjects akin to it. To do this properly they will need a firm
foundation of scientific and literary training which fortunately they are
It is very important that the movement should enter the Colleges and start to
acquire the support of student bodies. No one can attempt such a task better than
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 in a way that meets the immediate needs of their minds. Young
Bahá'ís like yourself must prepare themselves to really bring the
message to their generation who need it so desperately and who can understand the
language it speaks so well.7
Shoghi Effendi has for years urged the Bahá'ís (who asked his
advice, and in general also) to study history, economics, sociology, etc., in order to
be au courant with all the progressive movements and thoughts being put forth today,
and so that they could correlate these to the Bahá'í teachings. What he
wants the Bahá'ís to do is to study more, not to study less. The more
general knowledge, scientific or otherwise, they possess, the better. Likewise he is
constantly urging them to really study the Bahá'í teachings more
A sound knowledge of history, including religious history, and also of social
and economic subjects, is of great help in teaching the Cause to intelligent people.
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 4 May 1946, cited in
It seems what we need now is a more profound and co-ordinated
Bahá'í scholarship in order to attract such men as you are contacting.
The world has - at least the thinking world - caught up by now with all the great and
universal principles enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh over 70 years ago, and so
of course it does not sound 'new' to them. But we know that the deeper teachings, the
capacity of His projected World Order to re-create society, are new and dynamic. It is
these we must learn to present intelligently and enticingly to such men.
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 3 July 1949, cited in
If the Bahá'ís want to be really effective in teaching the Cause
they need to be much better informed and able to discuss intelligently,
intellectually, the present condition of the world and its problems. We
Bahá'ís should, in other words, arm our minds with knowledge in order to
better demonstrate to, especially, the educated classes, the truths enshrined in our
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 5 July 1949, cited in
We need profound Bahá'í scholars in the future, both to teach
and to administer the Cause, and to answer the questions of the public, and help
rebuild the world. This is a great challenge to you all, and presents a wonderful
opportunity for service to humanity.
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated August 1943.
4. Attitudes of Bahá'í Scholars |
|A scholar who is imbued with an understanding of the broad teachings of the Faith will always remember that being a scholar does not exempt him from the primal duties and purposes for which all human beings are created. Not scholars alone, but all men are exhorted to seek out and uphold the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. But they are also exhorted to be wise in their utterance, to be tolerant of the views of others, to be courteous in their behaviour and speech, not to sow the seeds of doubt in faithful hearts, to look at the good rather than at the bad, to avoid conflict and contention to be reverent, to be faithful to the Covenant of God, to promote His Faith and safeguard its honour, and to educate their fellow men, giving milk to babes and meat to those who are stronger.1|
The distinction desired by 'Abdu'l-Bahá for all Bahá'ís is certainly for attainment by Bahá'í scholars, who by following the exhortation of Bahá'u'lláh to moderation, kindliness, tact and wisdom, may restore scholarship to that high station of dignity and admiration which it formerly had and which is confirmed by the utterances of Bahá'u'lláh.1
If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are
deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and goodwill. If it be
accepted, if it fulfil its purpose, your object is attained. If any one should refuse
it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him ...
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings CXXXII.|
Should any one among you be incapable of grasping a certain truth, or be
striving to comprehend it, show forth, when conversing with him, a spirit of extreme
kindliness and good-will. Help him to see and recognize the truth, without esteeming
yourself to be, in the least, superior to him, or to be possessed of greater
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings V.|
A Bahá'í must develop the ability to learn everything from those
around him, showing proper humility before his teachers, but always relating what he
hears to the Bahá'í teachings, for they will enable him to sort out the
gold from the dross of human error.18
5. Some Specific Disciplines|
The task of formulating a system of education which would be officially
recognized by the Cause, and enforced as such throughout the Bahá'í
world is one which the present-day generation of believers cannot obviously undertake,
and which has to be gradually accomplished by Bahá'í scholars and
educationalists of the future.
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 7 June 1939, cited in
Philosophy, as you will study it and later teach it, is certainly not one of
the sciences that begins and ends in words. Fruitless excursions into metaphysical
hair-splitting is meant, not a sound branch of learning like philosophy. . . he would
advise you not to devote too much of your time to the abstract side of philosophy, but
rather to approach it from a more historical angle. As to correlating philosophy with
the Bahá'í teachings: this is a tremendous work which scholars in the
future can undertake. We must remember that not only are all the teachings not yet
translated into English, but they are not even all collected yet.
From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 15 February 1947, cited in
Unfolding Destiny 445.|
Bahá'u'lláh's comment ("strictures against 'such sciences as
begin in mere words and end in mere words'") does not apply to the systematic study of
natural phenomena in order to discover the laws of order in the physical universe, an
order which mathematics seeks to explore. Pure mathematics frequently has application
in practical matters, such as in your example of group theory, and also in your own
field of fundamental particles.13
Your second question concerning the possible synthesis of an elementary 'life'
form such as a simple virus relates to the statement made by 'Abdu'l-Bahá ...
'For example, if a man of his own mind and intelligence collects some elements and
combines them, a living being will not be brought into existence, since the system is
To understand the implications of this statement it is necessary to
know what the Master meant by 'a living being' and what limitations He intended by the
phrases 'of his own mind and intelligence' and 'since the system is unnatural.' As the
science of biology develops and men acquire ever deeper insights into the nature of
living things, these implications will no doubt become clearer.13
See Section 3.3 above
|History, Economics, Sociology:
See Section 3.3 above
6. Some Pitfalls|
While it may often be the part of wisdom to approach individuals or an audience
from a standpoint of current knowledge, it should never be overlooked that the
revelation of the Manifestation of God is the standard for all knowledge, and
scientific statements and theories, no matter how close they may come to the eternal
principle proclaimed by God's Messenger, are in their very nature ephemeral and
limited. Likewise, attempting to make the Bahá'í Faith relevant to
modern society is to incur the grave risk of compromising the fundamental verities of
our Faith in an effort to make it conform to current theories and practices.
From a letter on behalf of the Universal House of Justice dated 21 July 1968. 
|Misunderstanding About Religion:
It has . . . become commonplace to regard religion as the product of human
striving after truth, as the outcome of certain climates of thought and conditions of
society. This has been taken, by many non-Bahá'í thinkers, to the
extreme of denying altogether the reality or even the possibility of a specific
revelation of the Will of God to mankind through a human Mouthpiece.
A Bahá'í ... knows as the result of rational
investigation, confirmed by actual experience, that true religion, far from being the
product solely of human striving after truth, is the fruit of the Creative Word of God
which, with divine power, transforms human thought and action ...
A Bahá'í scholar ... will not make the mistake of
regarding the sayings and beliefs of certain Bahá'ís at any one time as
being the Bahá'í Faith ... Thus Bahá'í historians would
see the overcoming of early misconceptions held by the Bahá'í community,
or by parts of the Bahá'í community, not as 'developments of the
Bahá'í Faith' – as a non-Bahá'í historian might well
regard them - but as a growth of the community's understanding of the
Bahá'í Revelation ...
Undoubtedly the fact that Bahá'í scholars of the
history and teachings of the Faith believe in the Faith will be a grave flaw in the
eyes of many non-Bahá'í academics, whose own dogmatic material passes
without comment because it is fashionable; but this difficulty is one that
Bahá'í scholars share with their fellow believers in many fields of
human endeavour ...
|See  above.|
Neglect of the Covenant:
The Boards of Counsellors can render valuable services in the field of
Bahá'í scholarship by encouraging budding scholars, and also by promoting
within the Bahá'í community an atmosphere of tolerance for the views of
others. . . At the same time, the Counsellors have a basic responsibility to strengthen
the fundamental core of the faith of the believers by promoting an increasing awareness
of the cardinal truth and vital importance of the Covenant, and an ever-growing love for
|See  above.
- 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Comp. Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. Trans. Committee at the Bahá'í World Centre and Marzieh Gail. Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1978.
- Bahá'í Education. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976.
- Bahá'í Youth: A Compilation. Compiled by the NSA of the Bahá'ís of the United States. Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1973.
- Bahá'u'lláh. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Trans. Shoghi Effendi. Rev. ed. Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976.
- Deepening our Understanding and Knowledge of the Faith. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983.
- Shoghi Effendi. The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá'í Community. London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1981.
- Universal House of Justice, The. Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973. Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976.
- ____. Wellspring of Guidance: Messages 1963-1968. Rev. ed. Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976.