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Religion Library: Baha'i

Influences

Written by: Moojan Momen

Most of Baha'u'llah's writings were produced in reply to questions that were sent to him. Thus his teachings can be said to have developed to a large extent in a dialogue with these questioners, who included many of his followers but also many philosophers, religious leaders, statesmen, and intellectuals who wanted to know his views on religious, social, and political questions.

Baha'u'llah developed his teachings in the specific context of the Middle East in the late 19th century. In the course of his exiles, he came into contact with the major religious and political reform movements that were then current in the Middle East. Baha'u'llah commented on the questions raised by some of these statesmen and political reformers relating to the progress and development of their countries. These responses then formed the framework for the Baha'i approach to social and economic development generally.

Beyond the Middle East, Baha'u'llah was also keenly aware of the wider world situation. In a series of messages addressed to the most important kings and rulers of the world in his time (Emperor Napoleon III of France, Tsar Alexander II of Russia, Queen Victoria of Britain, Sultan Abdülaziz of the Ottoman Empire, Nasira'd-Din Shah of Iran, and Pope Pius IX), as well as in a number of other writings, he laid down what he believed to be the conditions for the good governance of their countries and laid out the pathway for world peace. He commended, for example, democracy and strongly condemned tyranny. He called on the world's leaders to gather together and agree on binding treaties that would both resolve their differences and set up arrangements for mutually guaranteeing their territorial integrity. Once they had achieved this, he stated, the world's leaders should then reduce their expenditures on armaments and use the savings for the betterment of the condition of their peoples.

Baha'u'llah's Address to the Presidents of America
Hearken ye, O Rulers of America and the Presidents of the Republics therein . . . Adorn ye the temple of dominion with the ornament of justice and of the fear of God, and its head with the crown of the remembrance of your Lord, the Creator of the heavens. Thus counselleth you He Who is the Dayspring of Names, as bidden by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. The Promised One hath appeared in this glorified Station, whereat all beings, both seen and unseen, have rejoiced. Take ye advantage of the Day of God. Verily, to meet Him is better for you than all that whereon the sun shineth, could ye but know it. O concourse of rulers! . . . Bind ye the broken with the hands of justice, and crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of the commandments of your Lord, the Ordainer, the All-Wise.
 

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