Recent Articles
  • The Equality of Men and Women

    When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá talked about the problems and challenges humanity must deal with during His travels in Europe and the United States and Canada from 1910 to 1913, He brought up the equality of men and women—a question that, where it has been unaddressed, is causing a crisis in society (and families) and consequently a threat to the social structure.

  • Traditions Differ From Truth

    Knowledge of the truth is the goal of religions. Its progressive revelation in pro- portions corresponding to human spiritual capacity should not be a cause for discord and strife between people.

  • Movement and Life

    In December 1911, ‘Abdu’l- Bahá returned from His tour in London and Paris to spend the winter months in the city of Alexandria and prepare for His journey to America and Canada the following year. The flow of visitors to His residence continued all through the months of the winter…

  • The Springtime of the Soul Returns

    ‘A bdu’l-Bahá’s stay in Paris for the months of October and November 1911 afforded His hearers the pleasure of daily talks in which He discussed various topics related to the principles of Bahá’u’lláh. At the beginning of His visit, on 15 October, He gave a talk about the regularity of the renewal of the divine […]

  • Universal Love

    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, while on visit to the city of Paris in 1911, more than once addressed the subject of the soul in His public talks. He pointed out in particular its spiritual nature and its essential effect on material life, with emphasis too on its role in establishing a unity of mankind for whose realization in this enlightened age all past religions participated in preparing the way.

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Movement and Life (continued)

                                                  The Bay of Naples by Gioacchino La Pira

This statement is a century old, yet it is still today an unaccomplished hope—despite the efforts deployed throughout the century to achieve peace through political theories and other means made available by the present technological progress and advanced political organizations. We all realize how far we are from attaining this vital goal. This in itself is enough to convince the most optimistic of the futility of relying on plans dependent on conciliation between the interests of nations, for these interests are conflicting and changing. In fact these interests have often been the cause of strife and war.

“Consider history. What has brought unity to nations, morality to peoples and benefits to mankind? If we reflect upon it, we will find that establishing the divine religions has been the greatest means toward accomplishing the oneness of humanity. The foundation of divine reality in religion has done this, not imitations of ancestral religious forms. Imitations are opposed to each other and have ever been the cause of strife, enmity, jealousy and war. The divine religions are collective centers in which diverse standpoints may meet, agree and unify. They accomplish oneness of native lands, races and policies. For instance, Christ united various nations, brought peace to warring peoples and established the oneness of humankind. The conquering Greeks and Romans, the prejudiced Egyptians and Assyrians were all in a condition of strife, enmity and war, but Christ gathered these varied peoples together and removed the foundations of discord—not through racial, patriotic or political power, but through divine power, the power of the Holy Spirit. This was not otherwise possible. All other efforts of men and nations remain as mere mention in history, without accomplishment.”5

“The nations and religions are steeped in blind and bigoted imitations,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá observed on another occasion, meaning that these traditions that people hang onto have become detrimental—like stationary water whose harm is more than its benefit. “A man is a Jew because his father was a Jew. The Muslim follows implicitly the footsteps of his ancestors in belief and observance. The Buddhist is true to his heredity as a Buddhist. That is to say, they profess religious belief blindly and without investigation, making unity and agreement impossible. It is evident, therefore, that this condition will not be remedied without a reformation in the world of religion. In other words, the fundamental reality of the divine religions must be renewed, reformed, revoiced to mankind.”6

Signs of Life and Death

The basic laws of existence stipulate growth as an indispensable element of life. This is evidenced in some form of movement. All living entities, whether corporeal or incorporeal (abstract or spiritual) are in a continual movement or growth. When their motion ends they become motionless, and we know they are dead. Religion, which is a spiritual entity par excellence, is no exception of this general rule. The growth of religion and its evolution occur in the successive divine messages that renew its spirit and bring life to those of its principles that are required for the time. Divine effulgences are continuous and ensue and flow without indulgence, just as the sun’s energies are endlessly the source of life for physical entities. For example, Moses’s message brought life to Abraham’s teachings, and the message of Christ caused the growth of all that Moses had established. Muhammad’s message as well was a renewal of the past divine calls and demonstrated their perfection. This is the process by which religion continues its growth and shows its movement and vitality in unifying mankind in one nation that on earth reflects the divine principle of oneness. The divine messages are many but the reality of religion is one. The days are many but the sun is one. Thus Bahá’u’lláh appeared and announced the new principles of His message in the second half of the nineteenth century: “At a time when the Orient was rent by religious dissension Bahá’u’lláh appeared. He founded teachings which became the means of uniting the various and divergent peoples. He promulgated principles which removed the cause of their dissension, until today in Persia those who had been constantly at war are united. Christians, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Jews—people of every belief and denomination who have followed the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh—have attained complete fellowship and spiritual agreement. Former differences and dissensions have passed away entirely.”7

In a few short years Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings transformed the animosity between Persians, Arabs, Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians, Muslims and different confessions (denominations) into a deep spiritual brotherhood, raised the banner of human unity and peace between various factions in such a way that in Bahá’í gatherings today one cannot recognize who was a Christian, who was a Jew or who was a Muslim. “Bahá’u’lláh appeared in that country and founded the spiritual civilization. He established affiliation among the various peoples, promoted the oneness of the human world and unfurled the banner of the Most Great Peace. He wrote special Epistles covering these facts to all the kings and rulers of nations. Sixty years ago He conveyed His message to the leaders of the political world and to high dignitaries of the spiritual world. Therefore, spiritual civilization is progressing in the Orient, and oneness of humanity and peace among the nations is being accomplished step by step. Now I find a strong movement for universal peace emanating from America. It is my hope that this standard of the oneness of the world of humanity may be upraised with the utmost solidity so that the Orient and Occident may become perfectly reconciled and attain complete intercommunication, the hearts of the East and West become united and attracted, real union become unveiled, the light of guidance shine, divine effulgences be seen day by day so that the world of humanity may find complete tranquillity, the eternal happiness of man become evident and the hearts of the people of the world be as mirrors in which the rays of the Sun of Reality may be reflected. Consequently, it is my request that you should strive so that the light of reality may shine and the everlasting felicity of the world of man become apparent.”8

To know the significance of this change, we may take into consideration the fact that the progress brought by divine messages does not become evident before the passage of a certain time, that is a time sufficient for its growth in human consciousness and its maturation in the social order. For example, the unity that Moses built up among the Israelite tribes and the effect of His teachings needed about five centuries, according to the most accurate calibrations—after their departure from Egypt until they established the Kingdom of Solomon and built the great temple of Jerusalem. The unity established by Christ among the children of Israel, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Chaldeans and the Assyrians, despite the hatred and wars that existed between these nations, and the recognition of these teachings as a religion in the Roman Empire took no less than three hundred years.

Similarly, the Muhammadan Faith, which established peace and unity among the Arab tribes previously well known for their killing, stealing and enslaving of each other, required about seven centuries to civilize those people and allow them to conquer Constantinople and transfer their Islamic teachings to Western Europe.

As to the Bahá’í Faith, which appeared in the 19th century in a divided world, where the strong nations enslaved the weak and took over their wealth, and each nation prided itself on killing others with advanced weapons, the followers of Bahá’u’lláh have successfully established the foundations of a world order, built the well known Bahá’í temples over the five continents, obtained recognition of Bahá’í institutions as a non-governmental organization, and founded a solidly united world community in a little less than a century from the time of the proclamation of their Faith. It is hoped that this spiritual message will hasten the consolidation between all nations and the elimination of all prejudices and all causes of hatred between peoples in order that all humanity may be united in a world community illumined with the light of love, friendship and harmony.

The general principles of religion are the same and there are no differences between the basic teachings of God’s Messengers, but the differences are caused by traditions that appeared later. As long as the purposes of religion are love and unity, all that causes differences and divisions between peoples must be looked at as against religion and destructive of its purpose. Causes of differences should be considered contrary to human intelligence and reason inasmuch as they are against human interests. From this perspective traditions attributed to divine messages and that cause disunity must disappear before the world is relieved of its troubles. If the teachings of any religion are transformed into a cause of dispute and conflict, this signifies their end as a spiritual power and the loss of their teachings’ effectiveness and that they have now completed their purpose. According to the laws of existence, such teachings have served their time and must be renewed through the return of the divine Spring.

“We have spent six thousand years in wars and rancor, we must now spend some of our time and effort in spreading love and brotherhood. If we find afterwards it is harmful we can return to the old ways. No doubt divine enlightenment will conquer the darkness of human nature and transform darkness into light. I pray God that you will be successful in your endeavours to serve humanity. The day will come when the nations of the East and the West will be … all united and in love with each other.”9


The photograph on the first page of a postcard showing the S.S. Cedric is available at
Notes state that “RMS Cedric was laid down in 1902 at the shipyard of Harland and Wolff, Belfast. RMS Cedric was the second of White Star’s series known as the “Big Four”, the other three being RMS Celtic, Baltic and Adriatic.”

The photograph on the second page is of a painting of the Bay of Naples at night by Gioacchino La Pira (1839–1870). This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

1. Personal provisional translation from the talk on board the Cedric.

2. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace (US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982), second edition, pp. 113-14.

3. Ibid., p.156.

4. Ibid., p. 157.

5. Ibid., p. 158.

6. Ibid., p. 141.

7. Ibid., p. 127.

8. Ibid., pp. 12-13.

9. Personal provisional translation from the talk on board the Cedric.