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The Regeneration of Civilisation: The Vision of Baha’u’llah

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Presentation on theme: "The Regeneration of Civilisation: The Vision of Baha’u’llah"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Regeneration of Civilisation: The Vision of Baha’u’llah

2 “This is the Day in which God's most excellent favours have been poured out upon men, the Day in which His most mighty grace hath been infused into all created things. It is incumbent upon all the peoples of the world to reconcile their differences, and, with perfect unity and peace, abide beneath the shadow of the Tree of His care and loving-kindness.... Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead. Verily, thy Lord speaketh the truth, and is the Knower of things unseen.” Reproduced in Gleanings

3 The duties of the individual
To know God and to love God To carry forth an ever-advancing civilisation

4 Some aspects of Civilisation
Peacefulness Racial harmony Refinement High Art and Architecture Individual honesty and generosity Balance between Science and Religion A big polity, beyond the tribe

5 Civilisation without spiritual underpinning cannot sustain itself
“Whither are gone the learned men, the divines and potentates of old? What hath become of their discriminating views, their shrewd perceptions, their subtle insights and sage pronouncements? Where are their hidden coffers, their flaunted ornaments, their gilded couches, their rugs and cushions strewn about? Gone forever is their generation! …Naught can now be seen but their deserted haunts, their roofless dwellings, their uprooted tree-trunks, and their faded splendour.” Tablet to the Shah

6 O contending peoples and kindreds of the earth
O contending peoples and kindreds of the earth! Set your faces towards unity, and let the radiance of its light shine upon you. Gather ye together, and for the sake of God resolve to root out whatever is the source of contention amongst you.... There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed

7 Example A: the Roman Empire
Historian, Edward Gibbon “The decline and fall of the Roman Empire”. Without values a civilisation cannot sustain itself; Roman civilisation imploded rather than being assaulted from without. Coarsening of public tastes, move to cruelty Decline of good and selfless governance The force that rescued unity across the former Roman lands, Christianity, would have seemed contemptible and insignificant to the educated Roman of 160AD

8 Example B: The world of Islam
The Arabian peninsula was until the 630s occupied by ignorant and mutually antagonistic tribes Muhammad united them By 850 the Emirate of Cordoba was famous for the harmony in which Jews, Christians and Muslims lived, for its art and its architecture The world of Islam adopts, rediscovers or discovers numbers, medicine, lenses, mathematics, the arch etc From 1500 occurs a gradual decline and loss of both unity and intellectual and spiritual underpinnings, adherence to form

9 The Promise of World Peace
“No serious attempt to set human affairs aright can afford to ignore religion” Universal House of Justice, “To the Peoples of the World”

10 God’s purpose for men “The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men…Whatever is raised on this foundation, the changes and chances of the world can never impair its strength, nor will the revolution of countless centuries undermine its structure.”

11 Civilisation needs honesty, and honest needs religion
“Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues” “Beware, O King, that thou gather not around thee such ministers as follow the desires of a corrupt inclination, as have…manifestly betrayed their trust… Know thou for a certainty that whoso disbelieveth in God is neither trustworthy nor truthful…Nothing whatever can hinder him from betraying his neighbour, nothing can induce him to walk uprightly.”

12 The fruits of faith “Regard thou faith as a tree. Its fruits, leaves, boughs and branches are, and have ever been, trustworthiness, truthfulness, uprightness and forbearance.”

13 The process of creating the new civilisation is neither mechanical nor dictatorial, but requires people to play their part “Address yourselves to the promotion of the well-being and the tranquility of the children of men. Bend your minds and wills to the education of the peoples and kindreds of the earth, that haply the dissensions that divide it may, through the power of the Most Great Name, be blotted out from its face, and all mankind become the upholders of one Order, and the inhabitants of one city…Blessed is he who mingleth with all men in a spirit of utmost kindliness and love.”

14 Abdu’l Baha “True civilisation, where the spiritual is expressed and carried out in the material” “Our actions will help the world, will spread civilisation, will help the progress of science, and cause the arts to develop” “Material progress and spiritual progress are two very different things, and…only if material progress goes hand in hand with spirituality can any real progress come about, and the Most Great Peace reign in the world”. Paris Talks

15 As the outer human world declines, so the need for divine teachings becomes more apparent
“Among the teachings of Baha’u’llah is that although material civilisation is one of the means for the progress of the world of mankind, yet until it becomes combined with Divine civilisation, the desired result, which is the felicity of mankind, will not be attained…all these weapons of war are the malignant fruits of material civilisation. Had material civilisation been combined with Divine civilisation, these fiery weapons would never have been invented” Tablet to the Hague, 1919

16 Writings of The Guardian of the Baha’i Faith
“That Divine Civilisation, the establishment of which is the primary mission of the Baha’i Faith” Writing in the 1930s, he saw civilisation coming under threat from materialist and substitute religions, Communism and Nationalism. The Guardian quotes an unnamed historian (Arnold J Toynbee?) that “we stand before either a world catastrophe or perhaps before the dawn of a greater era of truth and wisdom” “the unique character of that Divine Civilisation, the foundation of which the unerring hand of Baha’u’llah has laid, and the essential elements of which the Will and Testament of Abdu’l Baha has disclosed”

17 The World Order of Baha’u’llah
World Federation New world civilisation is inherent in Baha’u’llah’s writings Unity and love between the Friends is paramount Loyalty to the Covenant Baha’u’llah’s institution of Houses of Justice Simultaneous decline and growth cf Romans?

18 “Erelong will God raise up the treasures of the earth - men who will aid Thee through Thyself and through Thy Name, wherewith God hath revived the hearts of such as have recognized Him”

19 The challenge “I bear witness, O Friends! That the favour is complete, the argument fulfilled, the proof manifest and the evidence established. Let it now be seen what your endeavour in the path of detachment will reveal” The Hidden Words


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