Baha’i

Baha’i Faith promotes a unified global society committed to a sustainable future for all.

“…do all in your power to be as one, to live in peace, each with the others: for ye are all the drops from but one ocean, the foliage of one tree, the pearls from a single shell, the flowers and sweet herbs from the same one garden.” (`Abdu’l-Baha: Selections Abdu’l-Baha, page 80)

“The Lord of all mankind hath fashioned this human realm to be a Garden of Eden, an earthly paradise. If, as it must, it findeth the way to harmony and peace, to love and mutual trust, it will become a true abode of bliss, a place of manifold blessings and unending delights. Therein shall be revealed the excellence of humankind, therein shall the rays of the Sun of Truth shine forth on every hand.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha: Selections … ‘Abdu’l-Baha, page 275)

Sadly material progress has disrupted the evolution of a Civilization that can advance to occupy an Earthly Paradise as envisioned by ‘Abdu’l-Baha the founder and spiritual leader of the Baha’i Faith. Driven by consumerism and aggressive individualism, the hallmarks of our current civilization are the erosion of spiritual values, the polarisation of humanity into national territories and the haves and have not’s as well as pollution on a global scale and rampant exploitation of the Earth’s resources. The Baha’i believe in the interconnectedness of all things and that our physical environment is a reflection of our spiritual environment. And: “Right now the spiritual world is just as polluted as the material one. And God wants both cleaned up!” http://www.bupc.org/environmental-solution.html

Baha’u’llah outlined the Baha’i approach to the environment almost 150 years ago: “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens. The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.” (Gleanings, pp. 249, 286.) The consciousness of a global citizenship and of our common human heritage converge in a single realization that the responsibility for the preservation of nature and the sustainable use of our natural resources rests with us collectively. The environmentally friendly behaviour of individual environmentally conscious people is unlikely to address the many environmental issues that cross national borders and continents. Neither will the piecemeal efforts of individual countries be sufficient. Only a global society, supported by universal values and principles, can inspire all individuals to take responsibility for the long-term care and protection of the natural environment. Baha’is find such a world-embracing vision and system of values in the teachings of Baha’u’llah, which herald an era of planetary justice, prosperity, and unity.

Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), who was Iranian is acknowledged by the Baha’i to be the most recent in a line of Divine Messengers that stretches back beyond recorded time and includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad. While reaffirming the core ethical principles common to all religions, Bahá’u’lláh also revealed new laws and teachings to lay the foundations of a global civilization.

Key principles guiding the Baha’i approach to conservation and sustainable development

  • Nature reflects the qualities and attributes of God and should, therefore, be greatly respected and cherished. “Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator.”
  • All things are interconnected and flourish according to the law of reciprocity.
  • The oneness of humanity is the fundamental spiritual and social truth shaping our age. Spiritual embracement of this oneness opens the doors a new world order of co-operation, justice and fair and sustainable use of the Earth’s resources for all.

Understanding nature as a reflection of the majesty and an expression of the purpose of God inspires a deep respect for the natural world. However, while the Baha’i value and respect Nature, they understand that Nature’s role is to serve the purpose given by God to the human race. This is to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. In this regard, the Baha’i faith promotes a worldview that is neither biocentric nor, strictly speaking, anthropocentric, but rather theocentric, with the Revelations of God at its center. Humankind, is required to act as a trustee or steward of nature while striving to carry out his Divine Will of evolving to live in a global society of harmony with love and mutual trust on an Early Paradise. http://www.arcworld.org/faiths.asp?pageID=65

Conclusion:
Bahá’u’lláh taught that humanity, after a long and turbulent adolescence, is at last reaching a stage of maturity in which unity in a global and just society can and must be established. “A new life,” Bahá’u’lláh declared, “is, in this age, stirring within all the peoples of the earth.”

 

These are some Baha’i resources:

A reflection on Baha’i scripture and the environment_Tracy Khuzwayo

People Inspired for Ecological Spirituality – PIES

Bahai Compassion for Animals

For more environment & faith resources, have a browse through our online library.

 

Additional Reading:

Alliance of Religions and Conservation http://www.arcworld.org/faiths.asp?pageID=65
Bahai the Sustainable Faith by David Langness http://bahaiteachings.org/bahai-the-sustainable-faith
Baha’is under the Provisions of the Covenant: Baha’u’llah taught that the world needs to have a tribunal where all the nations and peoples of the world will have equal representation. Where the people of the world can consider and implement the good of all humanity and regulate the use of the world’s natural resources. http://www.bupc.org/environmental-solution.html
We are Bahai’s South Africa: http://www.bahai.org.za/