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

Politics

According to the exhortations of the Supreme Pen and the confirmatory explanations of the Covenant of God Bahá’ís are in no way allowed to enter into political affairs under any pretense of excuse; since such an action brings about disastrous results and ends in hurting the Cause of God and its intimate friends.
(Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, no. 152)



Active support of an individual who has announced his candidacy for political office is not permissible to Baháís. Even if the person is not attached to a political party, the very fact of promoting his candidacy over that of other competitors is an act of partisanship, which is inimical to the principles of the Faith.
(Universal House of Justice, May 25, 1992)


As many of you are aware from media reports, on Friday 7 September the Government of Canada announced that it had closed its Embassy in Tehran and declared all Iranian diplomats in Canada personae non gratae, requiring that they leave the country within five days. The National Spiritual Assembly seeks your assistance in advising the Bahá’í community that Bahá’í institutions have no comment to make on the government’s decision, which concerns relations between states. It will also be helpful to remind the friends to scrupulously avoid being drawn into what may become divisive debates surrounding this issue, recalling the guidance of the beloved Guardian: “Let them (the Bahá’ís) refrain from associating themselves, whether by word or by deed, with the political pursuits of their respective nations, with the policies of their governments and the schemes and programs of parties and factions.”
(National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, To all Local Spiritual Assemblies, 11 September 2012)


At the same time, Bahá’ís respect those who, out of a sincere desire to serve their countries, choose to pursue political aspirations or to engage in political activity.
(Universal House of Justice, To the Bahá’ís of Iran, 2 March 2013)


Bahá’u’lláh has written that “He Who is your Lord, the All-Merciful, cherisheth in His heart the desire of beholding the entire human race as one soul and one body."; The mere self-characterization of candidates as opponents of one another is inconsistent with this approach, let alone the much more censurable practices now taken for granted in political campaigns.
Thus, it is clear that a Bahá’í would not express support for one political candidate over another. Written and oral endorsements, together with praise or criticism of a candidate, would fall into this category. Nor would he or she take actions that could be easily interpreted, during the electoral season, as support for one candidate over another, such as the posting of a candidate’s photo on a social media site. The National Assembly is confident that the friends will take this guidance to heart, given the following standard set by Shoghi Effendi: “Absolute impartiality in the matter of political parties should be shown by words and by deeds.”
(National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, To the American Bahá’í community, September 14, 2012)


Bahá’ís do not seek political power. They will not accept political posts in their respective governments, whatever the particular system in place, though they will take up positions which they deem to be purely administrative in nature. They will not affiliate themselves with political parties, become entangled in partisan issues, or participate in programmes tied to the divisive agendas of any group or faction.
(Universal House of Justice, To the Bahá’ís of Iran, 2 March 2013)


By becoming involved in political disputes, the Bahá’ís instead of changing the world or helping it, would themselves be lost and destroyed.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 444)


If any person wishes to speak of government affairs, or to interfere with the order of Governors, the others must not combine with him because the Cause of God is withdrawn entirely from political affairs; the political realm pertains only to the Rulers of those matters: it has nothing to do with the souls who are exerting their utmost energy to harmonizing affairs, helping character and inciting (the people) to strive for perfections. Therefore no soul is allowed to interfere with (political) matters, but only in that which is commanded.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 407)


If the institutions of the Faith, God forbid, became involved in politics, the Bahá’ís would find themselves arousing antagonism instead of love. If they took one stand in one country, they would be bound to change the views of the people in other countries about the aims and purposes of the Faith.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 444)


In one of His Tablets Bahá’u’lláh warns the Bahá’ís: “Dispute not with any one concerning the things of this world and its affairs, for God hath abandoned them to such as have set their affection upon them. Out of the whole world He hath chosen for Himself the hearts of men—hearts which the hosts of revelation and of utterance can subdue.” (Gleanings CXXVIII) As you realize, this cannot mean that Bahá’ís must not be controversial since, in many societies, being a Bahá’í is itself a controversial matter. The central importance of this principle of avoidance of politics and controversial matters is that Bahá’ís should not allow themselves to be drawn into the disputes of the many conflicting elements of the society around them. The aim of the Bahá’ís is to reconcile, to heal divisions, to bring about tolerance and mutual respect among men, and this aim is undermined if we allow ourselves to be swept along by the ephemeral passions of others. This does not mean that Bahá’ís cannot collaborate with any non-Bahá’í movement; it does mean that good judgment is required to distinguish those activities and associations which are beneficial and constructive from those which are divisive.
(Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986, p. 516-517)


It is often through our misguided feeling that we can somehow aid our fellows better by some activity outside the Faith, that Bahá’ís are led to indulge in politics. This is a dangerous delusion. As Shoghi Effendi’s secretary wrote on his behalf: “What we Bahá’ís must face is the fact that society is disintegrating so rapidly that moral issues which were clear a half century ago are now hopelessly confused and, what is more, thoroughly mixed up with battling political interests. That is why Bahá’ís must turn all their forces into the channel of building up the Bahá’í Cause and its administration. They can neither change nor help the world in any other way at present. If they become involved in the issues the governments of the world are struggling over, they will be lost. But if they build up the Bahá’í pattern they can offer it as a remedy when all else has failed.” … “We must build up our Bahá’í system, and leave the faulty systems of the world to go their way. We cannot change them through becoming involved in them; on the contrary, they will destroy us.
(Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 31-32)


Let them refrain from associating themselves, whether by word or by deed, with the political pursuits of their prospective nations, with the politics of their governments and the schemes and programs of parties and factions. In such controversies they should assign no blame, take no side, further no design, and identify themselves with no system prejudicial to the best interests of that world-wide-Fellowship which it is their aim to guard and foster. Let them beware lest they allow themselves to become the tools of unscrupulous politicians, or to be entrapped by the treacherous devices of the plotters and the perfidious among their countrymen. Let them so shape their lives and regulate their conduct that no charge secrecy, of fraud, of bribery or of intimidation may, however ill-founded, be brought against them. Let them rise above all particularism and partisanship, above the vain disputes, the petty calculations, transient passions that agitate the face, and engage the intention, of a challenging world. It is their duty to strive to distinguish, as clearly as they possibly can, and if needed with the aid of their elected representative, such posts and functions as are either diplomatic or political from those that are purely administrative in character, and which under no circumstances are affected by the changes and chances that political activities and party government, in every land, must necessarily involve. Let them affirm their unyielding determination to stand, firmly and unreservedly, for the way of Bahá’u’lláh, to avoid the entanglements and bickerings inseparable from the pursuits of the politician, and to become worthy agencies of that divine policy which incarnates God’s immutable Purpose for all men.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 448)


Notwithstanding the guidance above, the friends are encouraged to engage in public discourse on issues of general concern to society, many of which are also addressed by political candidates. Our contributions should be based on Bahá’í principles rather than partisan viewpoints. Material related to issues as varied as global climate change, race unity, the advancement of women, and global prosperity, produced under the guidance of the Universal House of Justice and various National Spiritual Assemblies, is readily available to assist the friends in such discussions.
(National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, To the American Bahá’í community, September 14, 2012)


O handmaid of the Lord! Speak thou no word of politics; thy task concerneth the life of the soul, for this verily leadeth to man’s joy in the world of God. Except to speak well of them, make thou no mention of the earth’s kings, and the worldly governments thereof. Rather, confine thine utterance to spreading the blissful tidings of the Kingdom of God, and demonstrating the influence of the Word of God, and the holiness of the Cause of God. Tell thou of abiding joy and spiritual delights, and godlike qualities, and of how the Sun of Truth hath risen above the earth’s horizons: tell of the blowing of the spirit of life into the body of the world.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 92-93)


One area that may be a source of confusion among the friends concerns the distinction drawn in the Bahá’í Writings between elected governmental office holders carrying out their duties, on the one hand, and electoral candidates, on the other. Bahá’ís are the “well-wishers” of the former, praying that they may be guided to take action for the betterment of society; but believers must be strictly neutral in connection with the latter. Of course, candidates who are incumbents fall into both categories. During an election season, however, an incumbent is often an electoral candidate and neither support nor opposition should be expressed for the candidacy. The candidate for whom a Bahá’í votes remains a strictly private matter.
(National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, To the American Bahá’í community, September 14, 2012)


The Alaska Public Employees Association appears to be a type of union organization. As long as this and other associations, such as the special interest groups you mention, are not affiliated with any political party and are not involved in political activities there is no objection to Bahá’ís belonging to them nor to their holding office in them.
As for participation in elections of non-Bahá’í organizations which are open to Bahá’ís but which employ electional methods different from Bahá’í practices, believers need not avoid the election procedures carried out in such organizations.
In all such activities the friends should bear in mind the following exhortation so clearly set forth by the beloved Guardian in a letter dated February 20, 1927 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada:
Fully aware of the repeated statements of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that universality is of God, Bahá’ís in every land are ready, nay anxious, to associate themselves by word and deed with any association of men which, after careful scrutiny, they feel satisfied is free from every tinge of partisanship and politics and is wholly devoted to the interests of all mankind ... . They should always bear in mind, however, the dominating purpose of such collaboration, which is to secure in time the recognition by those with whom they are associating of the paramount necessity and the true significance of the Bahá’í Revelation in this day.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, no. 1403)


The Guardian wishes me to draw the attention of the friends through you that they should be very careful in their public utterances not to mention any political figures-either side with them of denounce them. This is the first fact to bear in mind. Otherwise they will involve the friends in political matters, which is infinitely dangerous for the Cause.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 441)


The approach adopted by the Bahá’í community of non-involvement in such activity is not intended as a statement expressing some fundamental objection to politics in its true sense; indeed, humanity organizes itself through its political affairs. Bahá’ís vote in civil elections, as long as they do not have to identify themselves with any party in order to do so. In this connection, they view government as a system for maintaining the welfare and orderly progress of a society, and they undertake, one and all, to observe the laws of the land in which they reside, without allowing their inner religious beliefs to be violated. Bahá’ís will not be party to any instigation to overthrow a government. Nor will they interfere in political relations between the governments of different nations.
This does not mean that they are naive about political processes in the world
today and make no distinction between just and tyrannical rule.
(Universal House of Justice, To the Bahá’ís of Iran, 2 March 2013)


The desperate search for solutions to the social and economic problems afflicting these countries is tempting people, in increasing numbers, to indulge in partisan political activities; the indigenous Bahá’ís should refuse to be drawn into such divisive pursuits and should strive to acquire a more profound insight into the nature of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, which offers a pattern for a future society distinguished by justice and unity, far removed from the contention of competing political interests.
(The Universal House of Justice, Ridván 153, 1996 - Australia, the Cook Islands...)


The divisive nature of politics runs counter to the fundamental Bahá’í belief that unity is essential to the progress of civilization. The near paralysis of elected governments today, not just at the national level, but with growing frequency at the state and local levels, bears witness to the enervating effects of partisanship. In contrast, the Bahá’í goal of establishing the unity of humankind includes not only our support for the eventual organization of the countries of the world in a global federal system, but requires a re-orientation of how each element of society; individuals, families, civic organizations, towns, racial and ethnic groups, classes, and nations; views and interacts with all other elements of society.


The world situation is so confused and moral issues which were once clear have become so mixed up with selfish and battling factions, that the best way Bahá’ís can serve the highest interests of their country and the cause of true salvation for the world, is to sacrifice their political pursuits and affiliations and wholeheartedly and fully support the divine system of Bahá’u’lláh.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 444)


Their Faith, Bahá’ís firmly believe, is moreover undenominational, non-sectarian, and wholly divorced from every ecclesiastical system, whatever its form, origin, or activities. No ecclesiastical organization, with its creeds, its traditions, its limitations, and exclusive outlook, can be said (as is the case with all existing political factions, parties, systems and
programmes) to conform, in all its aspects, to the cardinal tenets of Bahá’í belief. To some of the principles and ideals animating political and ecclesiastical institutions every conscientious follower of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh can, no doubt, readily subscribe. With none of these institutions, however, can he identify himself, nor can he unreservedly endorse the
creeds, the principles and programmes on which they are based.
(Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 2, p. 89)


Those who have embraced the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, while associating with the followers of other religions in a spirit of love and friendship, will not take part in or lend support to any activity which tends to run counter to this basic principle of their Faith. A prime example is their non-participation by word or deed in political affairs. It may be true to say that no human institutions today are as corrupt as political ones. They are agencies through which man’s worst characteristics find expression. For the motivating principle which governs politics today is self-interest; the tools it employs are, in most cases, intrigue, compromise and deceit; and the fruits it yields are mainly discord, strife and ruin. How could the followers of Bahá’u’lláh work within this framework? How could they take part in politics and remain loyal to those lofty principles enunciated by Bahá’u’lláh? The principles of universality and the oneness of the human race, of truthfulness and honesty, of uprightness and integrity, of love and fellowship are completely opposite to the way in which politics are conducted today. Recognizing the destructive nature of the present-day order in human society, the bankruptcy of its political, religious and social institutions and their inability to bring unity to the human race, the Bahá’ís are engaged in erecting on a global scale the framework of a new world order based on the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.
(Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 2, p. 88)


Though loyal to their respective governments, though imbued with the love of their own country, and anxious to promote at all times, its best interests, the followers of the Bahá’í Faith, nevertheless, viewing mankind as one entity, and profoundly attached to its vital interests, will not hesitate to subordinate every particular interest, be it personal, regional or national, to the over-riding interests of the generality of mankind, knowing full well that in a world of interdependent vii peoples and nations the advantage of the part is best to be reached by the advantage of the whole, and that no lasting result can be achieved by any of the component parts if the general interests of the entity itself are neglected.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. vi)


We must build up our Bahá’í system, and leave the faulty systems of the world to go their own way. We cannot change them through becoming involved in them; on the contrary they will destroy us.
(The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 134-135)


We should - every one of us - remain aloof, in heart and in mind, in words and in deeds, from the political affairs and disputes of the Nations and of Governments. We should keep ourselves away from such thoughts. We should have no political connection with any of the parties and should join no faction of these different and warring sects. Absolute impartiality in the matter of political parties should be shown by words and by deeds, and the love of the whole humanity, whether a Government or a nation, which is the basic teaching of Bahá’u’lláh, should also be shown by words and by deeds.
(Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, no. 152)


Whatever personal feelings individuals may have about situations or events in the United States or abroad, Bahá’ís must not take sides in political disputes or struggles. Instead, they must concentrate on the advancement of the Cause of God, which is ultimately the only guarantor of the peace and prosperity of the world.
(USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 23)



When passions intensify over conditions and issues affecting society, individual Bahá’ís may, from time to time, be approached by their non-Bahá’í friends, relatives or acquaintances and encouraged or pressured to join in partisan political activities. Such activity is contrary to the principles of the Faith and should be avoided.
(USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 22-23)


Within the framework traced out by the above ideas, then, it is possible to consider the second dimension of the Bahá’í community’s efforts to contribute to the advancement of civilization: its involvement in society at large. Clearly what Bahá’ís see as one aspect of their contribution cannot contradict the other. They cannot be seeking to establish patterns of thought and action that give expression to the principle of oneness within their community, yet engage in activities in another context which, to whatever extent, reinforce an entirely different set of assumptions about social existence.
(Universal House of Justice, To the Bahá’ís of Iran, 2 March 2013)