As to those souls who are born into this life as ethereal and radiant entities and yet, on account of their handicaps and trials, are deprived of great and real advantages, and leave the world without having lived to the full—certainly this is a cause for grieving. This is the reason why the universal Manifestations of God unveil Their countenances to man, and endure every calamity and sore affliction, and lay down Their lives as a ransom; it is to make these very people, the ready ones, the ones who have capacity, to become dawning points of light, and to bestow upon them the life that fadeth never. This is the true sacrifice: the offering of oneself, even as did Christ, as a ransom for the life of the world.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 64-65)
Even though we find a defective branch or leaf upon this tree of humanity or an imperfect blossom, it, nevertheless, belongs to this tree and not to another. Therefore, it is our duty to protect and cultivate this tree until it reaches perfection. If we examine its fruit and find it imperfect, we must strive to make it perfect. There are souls in the human world who are ignorant; we must make them knowing. Some growing upon the tree are weak and ailing; we must assist them toward health and recovery. If they are as infants in development, we must minister to them until they attain maturity. We should never detest and shun them as objectionable and unworthy. We must treat them with honor, respect and kindness; for God has created them and not Satan. They are not manifestations of the wrath of God but evidences of His divine favor. God, the Creator, has endowed them with physical, mental and spiritual qualities that they may seek to know and do His will; therefore, they are not objects of His wrath and condemnation. In brief, all humanity must be looked upon with love, kindness and respect; for what we behold in them are none other than the signs and traces of God Himself. All are evidences of God; therefore, how shall we be justified in debasing and belittling them, uttering anathema and preventing them from drawing near unto His mercy? This is ignorance and injustice, displeasing to God; for in His sight all are His servants.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 230-231)
That there should be, however, certain individuals, who, by reason of some serious deficiency, physical or mental, would be incapacitated to contract marriage and enjoy the blessings of an enduring and successful marital life, is only too evident, but these constitute only a very small section of humanity, and are therefore merely an exception, and their condition cannot possibly invalidate what an allwise and loving Providence has decreed to be the normal way to a fruitful and constructive social existence. The exact conditions and circumstances under which such incapacitated individuals should be advised or even prevented perhaps from entering into any sort of marital existence have not been specified in the Bahá’í Writings, but will have to be defined later on by the Universal House of Justice. In the meantime, those believers who consider themselves as falling into the above category would do well, before taking any final decision themselves, to consult medical experts, who are both conscientious and competent, and to abide by their recommendation.
(Shoghi Effendi, Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters)
The Beloved Guardian has asked me to assure you and the parents of the dear baby of his prayers for his healing, both material and spiritual. It is difficult for us to understand these calamities when they come to us. Those who are firm in the Faith, know that the Hand of God protects them, and if something of this nature comes upon them, it is for some reason, which may have to do with the spiritual development of the one affected, or the spiritual development and welfare of the loved ones; or even for the melting of the hearts of non-Bahá’ís, who will be affected by the Divine Spirit, through the manner in which the Bahá’í meets such an ordeal.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 281)
The body of man becomes lean or fat; it is afflicted with disease, suffers mutilation; perhaps the eyes become blind, the ears deaf; but none of these imperfections and failings afflict or affect the spirit. The spirit of man remains in the same condition, unchanged. A man is blinded, but his spirit continues the same. He loses his hearing, his hand is cut off, his foot amputated; but his spirit remains the same. He becomes lethargic, he is afflicted with apoplexy; but there is no difference, change or alteration in his spirit. This is proof that death is only destruction of the body, while the spirit remains immortal, eternal.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 306)
The handicapped person, seemingly incapable of taking part in consultation, may in fact be able to function quite adequately, provided his fellow Assembly members are determined to find ways in which they can help him to participate.
(Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, 15 January 1965)
The prejudice and discrimination that disabled people suffer is the product of the more general human tendency to label as “inferior” those who are somehow different. But the ostracism that disabled persons often experience can be even more intense, for it is founded on fear—fear on the part of the ostracizer that he, too, may someday become the victim of disability. The only way to eradicate this fear is to educate every member of society to see disability for what it really is—a mental or physical condition that may make everyday life more challenging, but that cannot affect the disabled person’s soul, spirit, creativity, imagination or determination—in short, some of the most valuable aspects of life. At the same time, such an appreciation will enable individuals to see through the outward handicaps of disabled persons, to their inner reality.
(Bahá’í International Community, 1988 Aug 06, Human Rights Disability)
There is no explicit guidance in the Writings regarding birth defects and the Universal House of Justice has not ruled on the issue of an operation in the case of a life-threatening birth defect. It is therefore left to the judgment of the parents or guardians who must carefully and prayerfully weigh whatever medical advice they receive in light of the general guidance given in the Bahá’í teachings, balanced with the needs of all members of the family and how any decision would affect them. The Assembly should support whatever decision is made by the parents or guardians without trying to influence it, on the understanding that in such difficult situations there is neither a right nor a wrong answer and it is the parties themselves who must live with any decision made.
(USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 5)
[W]e would ... emphasize the ideal of rehabilitation within the family as well as in the community. Family members should be trained, where possible, to help provide the support and encouragement that the disabled person requires to surmount his impairment.
(Statement by the Bahá’í International Community, dated August 1988, “Human Rights and Disability: Statement to the 40th United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities")