A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Abuse - Oppression and Threats

A hitherto untranslated Tablet from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá points out that in the case of attack by robbers and highwaymen, a Bahá’í should not surrender himself, but should try, as far as circumstances permit, to defend himself, and later on lodge a complaint with the government authorities. A statement in a letter written on behalf of the Guardian indicates that in an emergency when there is no legal force at hand to appeal to a Bahá’í is justified in defending his life. Although we have advised certain National Assemblies in countries facing increasing civil disorder that it is preferable that Bahá’í do not buy or own arms for their protection or the protection of their families, we feel that in the circumstances you have outlined in your letter it would be permissible for the pioneer family to keep a weapon in the house, provided the law permits.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 117)


‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated that: “The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting; force is losing its dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy.” Bahá’í men have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world around them a new approach to the relationship between the sexes, where aggression and the use of force are eliminated and replaced by cooperation and consultation. The Universal House of Justice has pointed out in response to questions addressed to it that, in a marriage relationship, neither husband nor wife should ever unjustly dominate the other, and that there are times when the husband and the wife should defer to the wishes of the other, if agreement cannot be reached through consultation; each couple should determine exactly under what circumstances such deference is to take place.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 24 January, 1993)


As you know, the principle of the oneness of mankind is described in the Bahá’í Writings as the pivot round which all the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revolve. It has widespread implications which affect and remold all dimensions of human activity. It calls for a fundamental change in the manner in which people relate to each other, and the eradication of those age old practices which deny the intrinsic human right of every individual to be treated with consideration and respect.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual, 24 January, 1993)


Bahá’u’lláh has warned: “They that follow their lusts and corrupt inclinations, have erred and dissipated their efforts. They, indeed, are of the lost.”
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 24 January, 1993)


Bahá’u’lláh states that the “People of God” are forbidden “to engage in contention and conflict”.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 22 September, 1983)


It [consultation] requires all participants to express their opinions with absolute freedom and without apprehension that they will be censured and/or their views belittled; these prerequisites for success are unattainable if the fear of violence or abuse is present.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 24 January, 1993)


Let none contend with another, and let no soul slay another; this, verily, is that which was forbidden you in a Book that hath lain concealed within the Tabernacle of glory. What! Would ye kill him whom God hath quickened, whom He hath endowed with spirit through a breath from Him? Grievous then would be your trespass before His throne! Fear God, and lift not the hand of injustice and oppression to destroy what He hath Himself raised up; nay, walk ye in the way of God, the True One.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 46)


O ye lovers of God! In this, the cycle of Almighty God, violence and force, constraint and oppression, are one and all condemned. It is, however, mandatory that the use of opium be prevented by any means whatsoever, that perchance the human race may be delivered from this most powerful of plagues. And otherwise, woe and misery to whoso falleth short of his duty to his Lord.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 148-149)


Shoghi Effendi feels that it should be explained that forbidding self-defense by Bahá’u’lláh should not be taken too literally. To put it as bluntly as this, he fears that the question might be misunderstood. Bahá’u’lláh could surely have not meant that a Bahá’í should not attempt to defend his life against any irresponsible assailant who might attack him for any purpose whatever, whether religious or not. Every reasonable person would feel under such circumstances justified in protecting his life. Shoghi Effendi therefore thinks that if you could modify the statement that Bahá’u’lláh went further and forbade even self defense and put it less bluntly than this would be wiser and preferable.
(Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 427)


The honored members of the spiritual assembly should exert their efforts so that no differences may occur, and if such differences do occur, they should not reach the point of causing conflict, hatred and antagonism, which lead to threats. When you notice that a stage has been reached when enmity and threats are about to occur, you should immediately postpone discussion of the subject, until wranglings, disputations, and loud talk vanish, and a propitious time is at hand.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Consultation, p. 98)


The use of force by the physically strong against the weak, as a means of imposing one’s will and fulfilling one’s desires, is a flagrant transgression of the Bahá’í Teachings. There can be no justification for anyone compelling another, through the use of force or through the threat of violence, to do that to which the other person is not inclined. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has written: “O ye lovers of God! In this, the cycle of Almighty God, violence and force, constraint and oppression, are one and all condemned.”
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 24 January, 1993)