God assuredly dominateth the lives of them that wronged Us, and is well aware of their doings. He will, most certainly, lay hold on them for their sins. He, verily, is the fiercest of avengers.
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 177)
God, however, as has been pointed out in the very beginning of these pages, does not only punish the wrongdoings of His children. He chastises because He is just, and He chastens because He loves. Having chastened them, He cannot, in His great mercy, leave them to their fate. Indeed, by the very act of chastening them He prepares them for the mission for which He has created them.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 115-116)
Had the world been of any worth in His sight, He surely would never have allowed His enemies to possess it, even to the extent of a grain of mustard seed. He hath, however, caused you to be entangled with its affairs, in return for what your hands have wrought in His Cause. This, indeed, is a chastisement which ye, of your own will, have inflicted upon yourselves, could ye but perceive it.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 209)
In one of His Tablets, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá refers to some of the spiritual and social implications of the violation of the laws of morality and, concerning the penalty here described, He indicates that the aim of this law is to make clear to all that such an action is shameful in the eyes of God and that, in the event that the offence can be established and the fine imposed, the principal purpose is the exposure of the offenders—that they are shamed and disgraced in the eyes of society. He affirms that such exposure is in itself the greatest punishment.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 200)
Know that there are two kinds of torment: subtle and gross. For example, ignorance itself is a torment, but it is a subtle torment; indifference to God is itself a torment; so also are falsehood, cruelty and treachery. All the imperfections are torments, but they are subtle torments. Certainly for an intelligent man death is better than sin, and a cut tongue is better than lying or calumny. The other kind of torment is gross—such as penalties, imprisonment, beating, expulsion and banishment. But for the people of God separation from God is the greatest torment of all.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 265)
Man has not the right to take vengeance, but the community has the right to punish the criminal; and this punishment is intended to warn and to prevent so that no other person will dare to commit a like crime. This punishment is for the protection of man’s rights, but it is not vengeance; vengeance appeases the anger of the heart by opposing one evil to another. This is not allowable, for man has not the right to take vengeance. But if criminals were entirely forgiven, the order of the world would be upset. So punishment is one of the essential necessities for the safety of communities, but he who is oppressed by a transgressor has not the right to take vengeance. On the contrary, he should forgive and pardon, for this is worthy of the world of man.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 268)
O Oppressors on Earth! Withdraw your hand from tyranny, for I have pledged Myself not to forgive any man’s injustice. This is My covenant which I have irrevocably decreed in the preserved tablet and sealed it with My seal of glory.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian 64)
O Ye Seeming Fair Yet Inwardly Foul! Ye are like clear but bitter water, which to outward seeming is crystal pure but of which, when tested by the divine Assayer, not a drop is accepted.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian 25)
O heedless ones! Though the wonders of My mercy have encompassed all created things, both visible and invisible, and though the revelations of My grace and bounty have permeated every atom of the universe, yet the rod with which I can chastise the wicked is grievous, and the fierceness of Mine anger against them terrible.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 68)
Some people are like bloodthirsty wolves: if they see no punishment forthcoming, they will kill men merely for pleasure and diversion. One of the tyrants of Persia killed his tutor merely for the sake of making merry, for mere fun and sport. The famous Mutavakkil, the Abbasid, having summoned his ministers, councillors and functionaries to his presence, let loose a box full of scorpions in the assembly and forbade anyone to move. When the scorpions stung those present, he burst forth into boisterous laughter.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 270-271)
Soon shall ye be gathered together in the presence of God, and shall be asked of your doings, and shall be repaid for what your hands have wrought, and wretched the abode of the wicked doers!
(Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 225)
That [ordeals, adversities and tribulations] which is for testing is for one’s education and development, and that which is for punishment of deeds is severe retribution. The father and the teacher sometimes show tenderness towards the children and at other times deal harshly with them. Such severity is for educational purposes; it is true tenderness and absolute bounty and grace Although in appearance it is wrath, in reality it is kindness. Although outwardly it is an ordeal, inwardly it is a cooling draught.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Art of Living, p. 85)
There needs no chastisement of fire; self-knowledge is man’s punishment and his reward.
(Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 208)
Think not the deeds ye have committed have been blotted from My sight. By My beauty! All your doings hath My pen graven with open characters upon tablets of chrysolite.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian 63).
Thou hast asked about ordeals, adversities and tribulations, whether they are of God or the result of man’s evil deeds. Know that there ordeals are of two kinds: One is for tests, and the other for punishment of misdeeds.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Art of Living, p. 85)
We shall, if it be Our Will, set forth these payments in their just degrees - this is a promise on Our part, and He, verily, is the Keeper of His pledge, the Knower of all things.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 40)
You express surprise at the Guardian’s reference to “the necessary punishment from society.” In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas Bahá’u’lláh prohibits sexual immorality and in the Annex to that Book states that the various degrees of sexual offenses and the punishments for them are to be decided by the Universal House of Justice. In this connection it should be realized that there is a distinction drawn in the Faith between the attitudes which should characterize individuals in their relationship to other people, namely, loving forgiveness, forbearance, and concern with one’s own sins, not the sins of others, and those attitudes which should be shown by the Spiritual Assemblies, whose duty is to administer the law of God with Justice.
(Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1968-1973, p. 110)