As for what We have appropriated to the children, this is a bounty conferred on them by God, that they may render thanks unto their Lord, the Compassionate, the Merciful. These, verily, are the Laws of God; transgress them not at the prompting of your base and selfish desires. Observe ye the injunctions laid upon you by Him Who is the Dawning-place of Utterance. The sincere among His servants will regard the precepts set forth by God as the Water of Life to the followers of every faith, and the Lamp of wisdom and loving providence to all the denizens of earth and heaven.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 28-29)
BAHA‘O‘LLAH unsealed the holy books and revealed laws through which mankind can attain to a high state of spiritual civilization. These new laws will go into effect after the great readjustment, when wars, cataclysms, famine, labor troubles, etc., have done their work of equalization!
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 7)
But here is the real solution. The rich should be merciful to the poor, but with their free-will, not with force. Should it be with force it would be useless. It should be according to law and not by violence, so that through a general law every one might know his duty. For example, a rich person has a large income and a poor person a small income. To put it in a more explicit way: a rich person in this case must be exempt from taxes. If the poor person gives one-tenth of his income and the rich person one-tenth of his income, it will be unjust. Thus in this way a law should be made that the poor person who has only ten kilos and needs them all for his necessary food, be exempt from paying taxes. But if the rich person, who has ten thousand kilos, pays one-tenth or two-tenths taxes on his products, it will not be a hardship to him. For example, if he gives two thousand kilos, he will still have eight thousand kilos. If a person has fifty thousand kilos, even though he gives ten thousand kilos he will still have forty thousand kilos. Therefore, laws must be made in this way. These laws must do away with the present system of wages and earnings. If today the owners of factories increase the wages of their employees, after a month or a year, they will again cry and strike and ask for more increase. This work has no end.
(Compilations, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 341)
His Law is a fortress unto you, could ye but understand. Verily, He hath no purpose therein save to benefit the souls of His servants.
Human beings need not only assistance in defining acceptable behaviour of one person towards another, but also guidance which will help them to refrain from doing that which is spiritually damaging to themselves.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, 17 September 1993)
In contrast to many contemporary conceptions, the Bahá’í teachings maintain that a
person must rise above certain material aspects of human nature to develop and manifest
inherent spiritual qualities that characterize his or her true self. The Sacred Texts contain laws and exhortations that, in many instances, redirect or restrict behaviours that arise from impulses, tendencies, and desires, whether inborn or acquired. Some of these are physical, while others are emotional or psychological. Yet, whatever their origin, it is through their regulation and control that the higher, spiritual nature is able to predominate and flourish. Those who are not Bahá’ís may have no cause to take into account such considerations. A Bahá’í, however, cannot set aside the implications of these teachings and must endeavour to respond to the best of his or her ability, though it be little by little and day by day. In so doing, all believers face challenges, although the specific type or extent of a test may differ. They act with faith in Bahá’u’lláh’s declaration, “Know assuredly that My commandments are the lamps of My loving providence among My servants, and the keys of My mercy for My creatures", and they respond to His call, “Observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty.” (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 22 April)
It should not be surprising to find that certain aspects of the Teachings of the Faith may
not conform to one’s personal understanding. “Weigh not the Book of God with such standards and sciences as are current amongst you, for the Book itself is the unerring Balance established amongst men,” Bahá’u’lláh states. “In this most perfect Balance whatsoever the peoples and kindreds of the earth possess must be weighed, while the measure of its weight should be tested according to its own standard, did ye but know it.” As you persevere in your efforts to resolve your concerns, you are encouraged to focus your attention principally on the proofs of the authority of Bahá’u’lláh. This process will be facilitated through prayer, study of the Writings, participation in Bahá’í community life, and identification of preconceived ideas which are derived from the standards and theories of current society. As the years go by and humanity’s understanding of the spiritual nature of the human being grows and develops, its view of many of the issues that are a cause of much uncertainty and contention today can be expected to change.
(Universal House of Justice, to an individual believer, 22 December 2009)
Man reacheth perfection through good deeds, voluntarily performed, not through good deeds the doing of which was forced upon him … For the harvest of force is turmoil and the ruin of the social order.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 115)
The duty to obey the laws brought by Bahá’u’lláh for a new age, then, rests primarily
on the individual believer. It lies at the heart of the relationship of the lover and the Beloved; “Observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty,” is Bahá’u’lláh’s exhortation. Yet what is expected in this connection is effort sustained by earnest desire, not instantaneous perfection. The qualities and habits of thought and action that characterize Bahá’í life are developed through daily exertion. “Bring thyself to account each day", writes Bahá’u’lláh. “Let each morn be better than its eve", He advises, “and each morrow richer than its yesterday.” The friends should not lose heart in their personal struggles to attain to the Divine standard, nor be seduced by the argument that, since mistakes will inevitably be made and perfection is impossible, it is futile to exert an effort. They are to steer clear of the pitfalls of hypocrisy, on the one hand—that is, saying one thing yet doing another—and heedlessness, on the other—that is, disregard for the laws, ignoring or explaining away the need to follow them. So too is paralysis engendered by guilt to be avoided; indeed, preoccupation with a particular moral failing can, at times, make it more challenging for it to be overcome.
(Universal House of Justice, to individual believers, 19 April 2013)
The laws do not represent a sterile and inhumane legal code, but rather the divine prescription, a definition of how an individual must act in order to achieve true freedom and spiritual happiness in this world and the next.
(Letters of The Universal House of Justice, 1993 Jun 05, Homosexuality)
The perspective presented in the Bahá’í writings departs sharply from the pattern of
thought achieving ascendancy in many societies. Bahá’u’lláh states that the knowledge of God is revealed through His Manifestation, Who has an innate awareness of the human condition and the social order, and Whose purpose is to set forth such precepts as will effect a profound transformation in both the inner life and external conditions of humankind. “No man, however acute his perception,” He affirms, “can ever hope to reach the heights which the wisdom and understanding of the Divine Physician have attained.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explains that the human being has two natures, the spiritual or higher nature and the material or lower nature, and that the purpose of life is to gain mastery over the limitations and promptings of one’s material nature and to cultivate spiritual qualities and virtues—the attributes of the soul which constitute one’s true and abiding identity. Worldly desire is not the essence of a human being, but a veil that obscures it. Adherence to the Teachings of the Divine Educator refines the character and develops the potentialities with which each person is endowed; it liberates the individual and society from lower inclinations that give rise to the ills that afflict humanity.
(Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 9 May 2014)
This Book … is a heaven which We have adorned with the stars of Our commandments and prohibitions.’… ‘Say, O men! Take hold of it with the hand of resignation.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 3)
To deny that one is a Bahá’í while one still believes in Bahá’u’lláh is not withdrawal, it is dissimulation of one’s faith, and Bahá’í laws does not countenance the dissimulation of a believer’s faith for the purpose of breaking the law. “If a believer who did not like a particular law were to be permitted to leave the community to break the law, and then rejoin with impunity, this would make a mockery of the Law of God... It is abundantly clear from his letters that he has continually believed in Bahá’u’lláh, that he know the law that marriage is conditioned on the consent of parents, that he dissimulated his faith in order to be able to break this law with impunity. He must, therefore, be regarded as a Bahá’í without administrative rights.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 57)
To recapitulate: our meaning is that the change and modification of conditions, and the altered requirements of different centuries and times, are the cause of the abrogation of laws. For a time comes when these laws are no longer suitably adapted to conditions. Consider how very different are the requirements of the first centuries, of the Middle Ages, and of modern times. Is it possible that the laws of the first centuries could be enforced at present? It is evident that it would be impossible and impracticable. In the same manner, after the lapse of a few centuries, the requirements of the present time will not be the same as those of the future, and certainly there will be change and alteration. In Europe the laws are unceasingly altered and modified; in bygone years, how many laws existed in the organizations and systems of Europe, which are now abrogated! These changes and alterations are due to the variation and mutation of thought, conditions and customs. If it were not so, the prosperity of the world of humanity would be wrecked. For example, there is in the Pentateuch a law that if anyone break the Sabbath, he shall be put to death. Moreover, there are ten sentences of death in the Pentateuch. Would it be possible to keep these laws in our time? It is clear that it would be absolutely impossible. Consequently, there are changes and modifications in the laws, and these are a sufficient proof of the supreme wisdom of God.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 92)
We have desired for thee naught except that which is better for thee than what thou dost possess and all the treasures of the earth.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 48)
We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power. # 5
The consumption of wine and other intoxicants is prohibited in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (see notes 144 and 170). Reference to the use of “wine” in an allegorical sense—such as being the cause of spiritual ecstasy – is found, not only in the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, but in the Bible, in the Qur‘án, and in ancient Hindu traditions.
For example, in the Qur‘án the righteous are promised that they will be given to drink of the “choice sealed wine”. In His Tablets, Bahá’u’lláh identifies the “choice Wine” with His Revelation whose “musk-laden fragrance” has been wafted “upon all created things”. He states that He has “unsealed” this “Wine", thereby disclosing spiritual truths that were hitherto unknown, and enabling those who quaff thereof to “discern the splendours of the light of divine unity” and to “grasp the essential purpose underlying the Scriptures of God”. In one of His meditations, Bahá’u’lláh entreats God to supply the believers with “the choice Wine of Thy mercy, that it may cause them to be forgetful of any one except Thee, and to arise to serve Thy Cause, and to be steadfast in their love for Thee”.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 166)
We should not take the word “Law” in its rigid and literal meaning, defined in the encyclopedia as “the obligatory rule promoted by a sovereign authority”. It is not a law which is enforced with pressure, but rather a spiritual obligation based on the love of the believer who is eager to obey the will of his Beloved. In this ordinance there is no room for pressure or intimidation. Obedience is a reflection of the highest degree of love and ardent desire.
(The Universal House of Justice, Selected Six Year Plan Messages, p. 41)
Were His law to be such as to strike terror into the hearts of all that are in heaven and on earth, that law is naught but manifest justice. The fears and agitation
which the revelation of this law provoke in men’s hearts should indeed be likened to the cries of the sucking babe weaned from his mother’s milk, if ye be of them that perceive.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 6)
What the friends need to remember in this respect is that, in their efforts to achieve
personal growth and to uphold Bahá’í ideals, they are not isolated individuals, withstanding
alone the onslaught of the forces of moral decay operating in society. They are members of a purposeful community, global in scope, pursuing a bold spiritual mission—working to establish a pattern of activity and administrative structures suited to a humanity entering its age of maturity. Giving shape to the community’s efforts is a framework for action defined by the global Plans of the Faith. This framework promotes the transformation of the individual in conjunction with social transformation, as two inseparable processes. Specifically, the courses of the institute are intended to set the individual on a path in which qualities and attitudes, skills and abilities, are gradually acquired through service—service intended to quell the insistent self, helping to lift the individual out of its confines and placing him or her in a dynamic process of community building.
(Universal House of Justice, to individual believers, 19 April 2013)
… for any nation to function properly, there are certain social conventions and laws that, everyone accepts, must be followed. In the same way, there are laws and principles that govern our spiritual lives, and attention to them is of vital importance if the individual and society as a whole are to develop in a sound and harmonious manner. In recognizing the Manifestation of God for today, a believer also acknowledges that His laws and exhortations express truths about the nature of the human being and the purpose of existence; they raise human consciousness, increase understanding, lift the standard of personal conduct, and provide the means for society to progress. His teachings serve, then, to empower humanity; they are the harbinger of human happiness, whose call, far from compelling obedience to an arbitrary and dictatorial regimen of behaviour, leads to true freedom.
(Universal House of Justice, to a number of individual Bahá’ís resident in Europe, 19 April 2013)