This paper is an attempt to analyze the unfoldment of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, through a very superficial study of His Writings and those of His son Abdu’l-Bahá, and His great grand-son Shoghi Effendi.
The essay is the result of a consultation with some friends, some of whom heared about the Bahá’í Faith for the very first time. It has been divided into three sections. The first is called “THE WORLD CONDITIONS TODAY: THE PASSING OF THE OLD WORLD ORDER” and it is a brief analyzes of the situations of the society we are living in. the second is called “THE NEW VISION” and it deals with the processes and qualities humanity must develop for the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh to be established. The last section analyzes the structure of the “WORLD ORDER OF BAHÁ’U’LLÁH” and its implications.
1. WORLD CONDITIONS TODAY: THE PASSING OF THE OLD WORLD ORDER
The quest for Peace has always been one of the major dilemmas of man. Poets, seers, sages and prophets have expressed their vision for a peaceful world, in which the wolf and the lamb would dwell in the same home. This feeling has become greater and greater as time was passing by: the need for a peaceful world has increased with the decay of our society.
Moral values, educational, economical social and political principles are little by little falling apart and humanity globally is facing the need for a common and unifying vision. The impulse created by this need has generated a succession of ideological upheavals that have convulsed the world, and that appear now to have exausted themselves. The passion invested in the struggle, despite the results, testify to the depth of the needs.
However of we look around ourselves we see a world that is problem oriented and that has invested a great deal in its opposite.
Poverty, racism, wars, violence, lack of education are barriers to the achievement of a durable Peace.
The technological and scientific means have paved the way to reach this goal and indicate the means by which the practical problems of humanity may be solved. They provide indeed the very means for the administration of the complex life of a united world.
On the other hand we see that a lot of energy is invested in military expenditures and wars. In a world that invests more than 3 trillion dollars in the military, we have one quarter of the world that is malnourished or suffers of serious illness; one out of three adults is illiterate.
To discover these negative aspects of our society one does not need to travel to the Third World. We just have to open the windows of our house to find the various problems lined out in front of our very eyes. Until the present day there have been two big transformations that have shaped and changed the structure of our society. The First can be called decolonization and it has helped the so called Third World Countries to develop their own society. The second that was started with the glasnost and involved all the Eastern Block Countries helped them to find their own identity. This process set in motion more than a year ago has lead to the birth of various independent countries which in the past were part of one big state despite their ethnic differences.
Soon there should be another transformation which will influence the First World Countries, namely those capitalistic nations whose system did not prove to be immune from the failures that have characterized the systems in which the other transformations have occurred.
Religion, one of the vital forces that for centuries and centuries has helped humanity to develop civilizations, is now viewed by increasing numbers of people as irrelevant to the major concerns of the modern world. In its place they have turned to man-made ideologies that have demonstrated themselves to be incapable of solving humanity’s problems. The fruits created by these ideologies are none other than the ills that are afflicting humanity today at the close of the twentieth century.
As the new millennium approaches, the need of humanity is to find a common vision. Such a vision unfolds in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh (n. 1), the Prophet Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, and the most remarkable religious figure of the nineteenth century.
2. THE NEW VISION
Any attempt to institute World Peace without solving the various problems of mankind is doomed to failure.
Peace must be built on an all embracing new World Order which ensures that all man’s activities harmonize one with another, and where the interests of society come before those of the individual.
“It is towards this Goal” Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith clearly states, “the goal of a New World Order, Divine in origin all-embracing in scope, equitable in principle, challenging in its features that a harassed humanity must strive” (n. 2).
The face of the planet is at present time swept by a tempest, impredictable in its course, glorious in its final consequences and that is pushing the entire world towards a brilliant future, whose glimmering lights can be seen at the horizon.
The coming of Bahá’u’lláh has generated this action in which we can now discern two processes that are working simultaneously: one is the disintegration and fall of the old order and the other is the birth and rise of the new World Order. Shoghi Effendi thus elaborates on this theme:
“Such simultaneous processes of rise and fall, of integration and disintegration, of order and chaos, with their continuous and reciprocal reactions on each other, are but aspects of a greater Plan, and indivisible, whose Source is God, whose Author is Bahá’u’lláh, the theater of whose operations is the entire planet, and whose ultimate objectives are the unity of the human race and the peace of all mankind.” (n. 3).
The coming of the Manifestations of God, such as Moses, Jesus or Muhammad, has a deep influence on the course of history of mankind: it is like a spring-time that comes after winter-time and it has the duty to vitalize the entire creation. This is what happens with the appearance of these Luminous Beings, whose duty is to foster the creation of an ever-advancing civilization.
At the coming of Jesus the foundations of the Roman Empire were deranged and a new Order was established; the same thing took place with the coming of Muhammad. His influence changed dramatically the structure of the Arabic society of that time.
The same thing happened with Bahá’u’lláh: He has upset the old structure of society so to bring into it a new breath of life.
His Words clearly testify this:
“The world’s equilibrium has been upset through the vibrating influence of this Most Great, this New World Order. Mankind’s ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous system, the live of which mortal eyes have never witnessed.” (n. 4).
In another instance Bahá’u’lláh emphatically affirms:
“Soon will the present day Order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead. Verily, thy Lord speacketh the truth and is the knower of things unseen.” (n. 5).
Since the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh in 1892, in the Holy Land, the rolling up of the old order has become the daily experience of mankind and no abatement of this process is discernible.
The essence of Bahá’u’lláh’s World Order is the unity of the human race. In one of His Tablets He wrote:
“O ye children of men! The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race…” (n. 6).
To all mankind He said: “THE EARTH IS BUT ONE COUNTRY AND MANKIND ITS CITIZENS.” (n. 7). In another passage He thus warns humanity: “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.” (n. 8).
As we can clearly understand from the words of Bahá’u’lláh, the purpose of His coming and the key to establish a durable peace is Unity.
This introduces another important concept namely that a World Order can be built on the consciousness of the oneness of mankind, a spiritual truth recognized by all the human sciences. The planet earth is inhabited by one human species, albeit varied in the lesser aspects of life. The idea of oneness of mankind views humanity as one organic body composed of individuals who, according to their unique characteristics and qualities, form the diversified yet harmonious cells and organs. Thus the body of mankind operates through the unified specialized functions of all its constituent parts. Every human being is part of this organic entity, and his health or illness, his joy or sorrow ultimately affects the whole organism. The recognition of this truth implies the abandonment of prejudice of every kind: race, color, creed, class, everything that constitutes a barrier to world peace.
Recognition of the oneness of mankind:
“… calls for no less than the reconstruction and the demilitarization of the whole civilized world – a world organically unified in all the essential aspects of its life, its political machinery, its spiritual aspirations, its trade and finance, its script and language, and yet infinite in the diversity of the national characteristics of its federated units.” (n. 9).
The purpose of Bahá’u’lláh’s World Order it is not to create a dull mediocre uniformity all over the world or subvert the foundations of society; rather He suggests a system in which “its watchword is unity in diversity.” (n. 10).
“CONSIDER THE FLOWERS OF THE GARDEN: THOUGH DIFFERING IN KIND, COLOUR, FORM AND SHAPE, YET, INASMUCH AS THEY ARE REFRESHED BY THE WATERS OF ONE SPRING, REVIVED BY THE BREATH OF ONE WIND, INVIGORATED BY THE RAYS OF ONE SUN, THIS DIVERSITY INCREASETH THEIR CHARM AND ADDETH UNTO THEIR BEAUTY.” (n. 11).
“The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Bahá’u’lláh, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded. This commonwealth must, as far as we can visualize it, consist of a world legislature, whose members will, as the trustees of the whole of mankind, ultimately control the entire resources of all the component nations, and will enact such laws as shall be required to regulate the life, satisfy the needs and adjust the relationships of all races and peoples. A world executive, backed by an international Force, will carry out the decision arrived at, and apply the laws enacted by, this world legislature, and will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth. A world tribunal will adjudicate and deliver its compulsory and final verdict in all and any disputes that may arise between the various elements constituting this universal system. A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvelous swiftness and perfect regularity. A world metropolis will act as the nerve centre of a world civilization, the focus towards which the unifying forces of life will converge and from which its energizing influences will radiate. A world language will either be invented or chosen from among the existing languages and will be taught in the schools of all the federated nations as an auxiliary to their mother tongue. A world script, a world literature, a uniform and universal system of currency, of weights and measures, will simplify and facilitate intercourse and understanding among the nations and races of mankind. In such a world society, science and religion, the two most potent forces in human life, will be reconciled, will co-operate, and will harmoniously develop. The press will, under such a system, while giving full scope to the expression of the diversified views and convictions of mankind, cease to be mischievously manipulated by vested interests, whether private or public, and will be liberated from the influence of contending governments and peoples. The economic resources of the world will be organized, its sources of raw materials will be tapped and fully utilized, its markets will be co-ordinated and develop, and the distribution of its products will be equitably regulated.
National rivalries, hatreds and intrigues will cease, and racial animosity and prejudice will be replaced by racial amity, understanding and co-operation. The causes of religious strife will be permanently removed, economic barriers and restrictions will be completely abolished, and the inordinate distinction between classes will be obliterated. Destitution on the one hand, and gross accumulation of ownership on the other, will disappear. The enormous energy dissipated and wasted on war, whether economic or political, will be consecrated to such ends as will extend the range of human inventions and technical development, to the increase of the productivity of mankind, to the extermination of disease, to the extension of scientific research, to the raising of the standard of physical health, to the sharpening and refinement of the human brain, to the exploitation of the unused and unsuspected resources of the planet, to the prolongation of human life, and to the furtherance of any other agency that can stimulate the intellectual, the moral, and spiritual life of the entire human race.
A world federal system, ruling the whole earth and exercising unchallengeable authority over its unimaginably vast resources, blending and embodying the ideals of both the East and the West, liberated from the curse of war and its miseries, and bent on the exploitation of all the available sources of energy on the surface of the planet, a system in which Force is made the servant of Justice, whose life is sustained by its universal recognition of one God and by its allegiance to one common Revelation such is the goal towards which humanity, impelled by the unifying forces of life, is moving.” (n. 12).
It is very important to understand that the unification of the human race “should conform to such principles as would directly harmonize with the spirit that animates, and the laws that govern the operation of, the institution that already constitute the structural basis of the Administrative Order of His Faith.” (n. 13).
Concisely the operations of this super-state will be shown in the following diagram.
INTERNATIONAL FORCE INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL
It is important to note that the very same structure will be operating on the NATIONAL and local scale.
In fact, whereas it is of vital importance that the members of the future commonwealth will be united under a common world administrative structure, it is equally important that each one preserves its own character legislating within their territories, without coming into conflict with the laws promulgated by the Supreme Body.
The function of the super-state should be to enact such laws that will be needed to administer the life and answer the needs of a unified yet complex world.
A world legislature will eliminate all the speculations and problems that at present time are difficult to solve because of the many interests involved on the part of the nations of the world. (See for example the problem of pollution).
The resources of the planet (energy, raw materials) will be administrated by the super-state. It will be its responsibility that those resources will be coordinated and developed so that all nations may have them at their disposal, avoiding the waste of these resources as it may happen today.
In a society with high values, the concept of public responsibility and of duty are a vital aspect of social life. Consequently, it is the world super-state that should exercise full authority on the resources of the earth, which are presently misused by national governments.
This brings up a very important point: most of the wars are caused by attempts to either protect or seize the resources which in the future will be placed under the control of the super-state.
The principle of collective security brought by Bahá’u’lláh will be the corner-stone upon which the super-state will be built.
“SHOULD ANY KING TAKE UP ARMS, AGAINST ANOTHER”, He emphatically states, “all should unitedly arise and prevent him.” (n. 14).
With this principle in mind, each nation will only need those armaments to preserve the order and security within their territories.
A universal system of currency will facilitate the economic interaction among the various countries of the world, avoiding that the currencies of the Third World will not be devolved by the strong western currencies.
In this new world system, a universal system of weights and measures and one and the same calendar will be used all over the world, eliminating all the misunderstandings that we daily experience in our society.
To further improve the relationship and development of the various countries of the world, a mechanism of world intercommunications will be devised, functioning with marvelous swiftness and perfect regularity.
The International and National Executive Bodies will safeguard the freedom of the press, the means through which all peoples may be informed of the events taking place in their nation and the world at large.
“THE PAGES OF SWIFTLY APPEARING NEWSPAPERS ARE INDEED THE MIRROR OF THE WORLD” (n. 15), is the in unequivocable statement of Bahá’u’lláh.
The educational system of the world will undergo radical reforms. Education will be obligatory for all the children of the world, and in cases in which parents cannot pay for their children’s education, the super-state will provide the necessary funds. Gradually the schools of the world will adapt a uniform curriculum in which an auxiliary language to be taught with their own language, a common script and the concept of world citizenship, will be developed. This principle of universal compulsory education will make sure that the capacity of the human mind will be used for the well being of mankind. The process of acquisition of knowledge will be seen as a means whereby the world of nature, which we are part of, will be better understood in all its various aspects.
Human energies and resources will no longer be dissipated because of wars or social disorganization, but will be used to increased the scientific discoveries.
In a world of confederated states there will not be trade barriers and the system of taxation will be reformed in views of an equitable distribution of wealth.
Bahá’u’lláh has ordained a system of progressive taxation; every citizen will pay his taxes on whatever amount of money he has earned in excess of his needs.
Abdu’l-Bahá thus explains: “All must be producer Each person in the community whose need is equal to his individual producing capacity shall be exempt from taxation. But if his income is greater than his needs, he must pay a tax until an adjustment is effected.
That is to say, a man’s capacity for production and his needs will be equalized and reconciled through taxation.
If his production exceeds, he will pay a tax; if his necessities exceed his production, he shall receive an amount sufficient to equalize or adjust. Therefore, taxation will be proportionate to capacity and production, and there will be no poor in the community. (n. 16).
This principle implies two important aspects: first, the citizen should be loyal to the government and declare the income that should be subject to taxation; and second, he should conform to the principle of moderation avoiding excessive expenses in order to get the help from the government or not to pay the taxes.
This requires a great civic or spiritual maturity on the part of the citizen; this maturity will be reinforced because they will pay their taxes directly to local institutions and not national as it happens today, and they can see how their money is used in the locality where they live.
The same principle of taxation will be applied to local institutions, which will pay its taxes according to what remains after all local expenses have been deducted. The Local Institutions should devolve part of their income to general running expense of the institution, support of orphanage, of cripples and incurables, of educational institutions, to supply any deficiency in the expenses of the poor. (n. 17).
At the end of each Administrative cycle, if the local expenses are less than the local income, taxes will be paid to the national institutions according to what is left. If local institutions will need some help from the National Institution, the same principle applied to individual citizen will be also applied with the Local Institution. This organization will promote an equitable distribution of wealth among the various countries.
Every Bahá’í month (n. 18), the population of each locality will gather in a meeting where a full report of all activities will be given by the local authorities. At the end of that, each of them will be free to express his or her views on problems of common interests or to offer any suggestion. The suggestion accepted by the whole assembly or its majority, will be presented to the authorities, who are elected every year among all the citizens, with no candidature, which will decide upon it.
This process will considerably change the structure of the social organization of the planet and will make every individual consider himself as part of one united world.
The whole structure of the W. O. of Bahá’u’lláh is not based on impositions from without, i.e. institutions, but it is the result of the maturity and understanding of every individual.
The achievement of Peace is thus the result of a process involving the entire human race and its governments.
The Order of Bahá’u’lláh is not an utopian vision, but it is the concrete goal towards which humanity is moving. The law of love is the corner-stone of the entire creation, it is also the foundation of the Order brought by Bahá’u’lláh. Self sacrifice is the highest form of love: an individual sacrifices his life entirely for the protection of life itself.
The new order will be born as result of the recognition by humanity of its oneness and wholeness and the acknowledgement of the claims of Bahá’u’lláh, the Author of the long-awaited kingdom of God on earth.
- Authoritative works on the life and teachings of Bahá’u’lláh are Shoghi Effendi “GOD PASSES BY”, WILMETTE, BAHA’I PUBLISHING TRUST 1987. for biographical studies see BALYUZI’s “BAHA’U’LLAH THE KING OF GLORY”, OXFORD, GEORGE RONALD, 1980. His writings are extensively reviewed in TAHERZADEH’s, THE REVELATION of BAHA’U’LLAH, OXFORD, GEORGE RONALD, 1975, 4 voll. OFFICE OF PUBLIC INFORMATION, BAHA’U’LLAH, 1991.
- SHOGHI EFFENDI, THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH, WILMETTE, BAHA’I PUBLISHING TRUST, 1982, pp. 34.
- SHOGHI EFFENDI, THE ADVENT OF DIVINE JUSTICE, WILMETTE, BAHA’I PUBLISHING TRUST, 1984, pp. 72-3.
- BAHA’U’LLAH, A SYNOPSIS AND CODIFICATION OF THE KITAB-I-AQDAS, HAIFA, BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE, 1973, pp. 27.
- BAHA’U’LLAH, GLEANINGS FROM THE WRITINGS OF BAHA’U’LLAH, WILMETTE, B.P.T., 1983, pp. 7.
- BAHA’U’LLAH, THE PROCLAMATION OF BAHA’U’LLAH, HAIFA, BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE, 1972, pp. 112.
- BAHA’U’LLAH, GLEANINGS, pp. 250.
- BAHA’U’LLAH, idem, pp. 286.
- SHOGHI EFFENDI, THE WOELD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH: SELECTED LETTERS, WILMETTE, B.P.T., 1982, pp. 43.
- SHOGHI EFFENDI, idem, pp. 41-2.
- ABDU’L-BAHA, SELECTION FROM THE WRITINGS OF ABDU’L-BAHA, HAIFA, BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE, 1982, pp. 291-2.
- SHOGHI EFFENDI, THE WORLD ORDER, pp. 203-4.
- SHOGHI EFFENDI, idem, pp. 162.
- BAHA’U’LLAH PROCLAMATION, pp. 115.
- BAHA’U’LLAH, TABLETS OF BAHA’U’LLAH, REVEALED AFTER THE KITAB-I-AQDAS, HAIFA, BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE, 1978, pp. 39.
- ABDU’L-BAHA, THE PROMULGATION OF UNIVERSAL PEACE, WILMETTE, B.P.T., 1982, pp. 217.
- ABDU’L-BAHA, STAR OF THE WEST, vol. 7, pp. 146.
- THE BAHA’I CALENDAR CONSISTS OF 19 MONTHS OF 19 DAYS. AT THE END OF EVERY MONTH A FEAST IS CELEBRATED CALLED THE NINETEEN DAYS FEAST. THIS FEAST IS CONSTITUTED BY A SPECIAL PAST IN WHICH SOME PRAYERS AND QUOTATIONS FROM THE BAHA’I SACRED WRITINGS ARE READ, BY AN ADMINISTRATIVE PART WHERE THE REPORT OF THE ASSEMBLY IS GIVEN, AND A SOCIAL ONE. FOR FURTHER INFORMATIONS SEE “ESSLEMONT, BAHA’U’LLAH AND THE NEW ERA, LONDON, B.P.T., 1974, pp. 172”.
- ABDU’L-BAHA, SELECTION FROM THE WRITINGS OF ABDU’L-BAHA, (HAIFA, BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE, 1982).
- ABDU’L-BAHA, THE PROMULGATION OF UNIVERSAL PEACE, (WILMETTE, BAHA’I PUBLISHING TRUST, 1982).
- ABDU’L-BAHA, STAR OF THE WEST, voll. 7, pp. 146.
- BAHA’U’LLAH, THE PROCLAMATION OF BAHA’U’LLAH, (HAIFA, BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE, 1972).
- BAHA’U’LLAH, A SYNOPSIS AND CODIFICATION OF THE KITAB-I-AQDAS, (HAIFA, BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE, 1973).
- BAHA’U’LLAH, GLEANINGS FROM THE WRITINGS OF BAHA’U’LLAH, (WILMETTE, BAHA’I PUBLISHING TRUST, 1983).
- BAHA’U’LLAH, TABLETS OF BAHA’U’LLAH REVEALED AFTER THE KITAB-I-AQDAS, (HAIFA, BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE, 1978).
- BAUSANI A., SAGGI SULLA FEDE BAHA’I, (ROMA, CASA EDITRICE BAHA’I, 1991).
- ESSLEMONT J. E., BAHA’U’LLAH AND THE NEW ERA, (LONDON, BAHA’I PUBLISHING TRUST, 1974).
- LASZLO E., LA SFIDA DELL’EPOCA, (SPERLING &KUPFER EDITORI, 1991).
- LEE K., PRELUDE TO THE LESSER PEACE, (INDIA, BAHA’I PUBLISHING TRUST, 1989).
- OFFICE OF PUBLIC INFORMATION, BAHA’U’LLAH, (ROMA, CASA EDITRICE BAHA’I, 1991).
- ROBIATI G., FAITH AND WORLD ECONOMY, (MECCO, GRUPPO EDITORIALE INSIEME, 1991).
- SHOGHI EFFENDI, THE ADVENT OF DIVINE JUSTICE, (WILMETTE, BAHA’I PUBLISHING TRUST, 1984).
- SHOGHI EFFENDI, THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH: SELECTED LETTERS, (WILMETTE, BAHA’I PUBLISHING TRUST, 1982).
- SHOGHI EFFENDI, THE PROMISED DAY IS COME, (WILMETTE, BAHA’I PUBLISHING TRUST, 1980).
- SIVARD R. L., WORLD MILITARY AND SOCIAL EXPENDITURES, 1991.
- UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE, TO THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD: A BAHA’I STATEMENT ON PEACE, (TORONTO, ASSOCIATION FOR BAHA’I STUDIES, 1986).
- UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE, PEACE, (ENGLAND, BAHA’I PUBLISHING TRUST, 1985).