Flora Teckie A Bahá’í Perspective —
THE primary purpose of God in revealing His will through His Messengers is to effect a transformation in the moral and material condition of humanity.
Therefore, our efforts to conform to the laws and teachings of God should be a necessary consequence of our belief in Him and it is natural that our belief in God would be translated into constructive deeds.
Otherwise, one would question what it means to have faith if it is not consciously manifested in one’s actions and in one’s relationships with others?
According to the Bahá’í Scriptures: “The purpose of the one true God in manifesting Himself is to summon all mankind to truthfulness and sincerity, to piety and trustworthiness, to resignation and submissiveness to the will of God, to forbearance and kindliness, to uprightness and wisdom. His object is to array every man with the mantle of a saintly character, and to adorn him with the ornament of holy and goodly deeds.”
God has given us free will and all human behaviour is an expression of our capacity to choose and make decisions. We have the choice between justice and injustice, the power to do good and to do evil. We have the capacity to override the needs of our lower nature in keeping with ethical requirements. We also have the capacity to control and channel our natural drives as well as to transform them into human perfections.
For a healthy body and mind we need to observe the laws that govern physical existence.
“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.”
Moral maturity comes from spiritual awareness and the moral code that has the transformative power for action originates from the guidance given to us by our Creator.
According to the Bahá’í Writings, to accept the Messenger of God in His time and to observe all the ordinances revealed by Him are the two inseparable duties which each soul is created to fulfil, that “…the foundation of success and salvation is the knowledge of God, and that the results of the knowledge of God are the good actions which are the fruits of faith.”
Our moral and spiritual advancement is crucial to our well-being in both this life and the next. As Bahá’u’lláh counsels: “Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.”
Belief in the immortality of the soul and in an all-knowing judging God ought to provide us with sufficient motivation for moral conduct. Yet, the highest morality does not consist in actions performed in the hope of heavenly reward or in fear of punishment; good deeds should be done for the sake of God and because of our love for Him and humanity.
A moral person will consciously and actively be engaged in performing actions that promote not only individual, but also social transformation.
The following words of Bahá’u’lláh capture the essence of translating belief into action: “Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbour, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer to the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge.
“Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression.
“Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts … Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue …”
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