a bahá'í inspired perspective
FIRST OF ALL, WE SHOULDN’T EVEN BE FINDING THINGS TO CURSE ABOUT IN OTHERS
“It is not becoming in man to curse another; it is not befitting that man should attribute darkness to another; it is not meet that one human being should consider another human being as bad; nay, rather, all mankind are the servants of one God; God is the Father of all; there is not a single exception to that law.”
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 266)
SWEARING DEGRADES US
“Defile not your tongues with the cursing and reviling of any soul.”
(Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 27)
TALKING BADLY ABOUT OTHERS ONLY EXPRESSES THE BADNESS IN US
“Did they whom you curse, upon whom ye invoke evil, act differently from yourselves?”
(Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 222)
ASK YOURSELF: WOULD ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ SWEAR?
“…look at me, follow me, be as I am;
IF SILENCE PROVES WISDOM, THEN SWEARING PROVES …
“Bahá’u’lláh says there is a sign (from God) in every phenomenon: the sign of the intellect is contemplation and the sign of contemplation is silence, because it is impossible for a man to do two things at one time—he cannot both speak and meditate.”
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 174)
OUR TONGUES CAN DESTROY OUR HEARTS & SOULS
“For the tongue is a smoldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century.”
(Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 264)
WORDS ARE POWERFUL & HAVE THEIR CONSEQUENCES
“Speech is a powerful phenomenon. Its freedom is both to be extolled and feared. It calls for an acute exercise of judgement, since both the limitation of speech and the excess of it can lead to dire consequences.”
(The Universal House of Justice, 1988 Dec 29, Individual Rights and Freedoms, p. 7)
KIND WORDS HAVE MORE INFLUENCE & WISDOM
“A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom and understanding.”
SWEAR WORDS ARE A HABIT FROM A DECADENT AGE
“Such a chaste and holy life, with its implications of modesty, purity, temperance, decency, and clean-mindedness, involves no less than the exercise of moderation in all that pertains to dress, language, amusements, and all artistic and literary avocations. It demands daily vigilance in the control of one’s carnal desires and corrupt inclinations. It calls for the abandonment of a frivolous conduct, with its excessive attachment to trivial and often misdirected pleasures… It can tolerate no compromise with the theories, the standards, the habits, and the excesses of a decadent age. Nay rather it seeks to demonstrate, through the dynamic force of its example, the pernicious character of such theories, the falsity of such standards, the hollowness of such claims, the perversity of such habits, and the sacrilegious character of such excesses.”
(Shoghi Effendi – Published in “The Advent of Divine Justice” (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990), p. 30)
DON’T LET “BAD” MUSIC AFFECT YOU
“We have permitted you to listen to music and singing. Beware lest such listening cause you to transgress the bounds of decency and dignity. Rejoice in the joy of My Most Great Name through which the hearts are enchanted and the minds of the well-favoured are attracted.
We have made music a ladder by which souls may ascend to the realm on high. Change it not into wings for self and passion. I seek refuge in God that you be not of the ignorant.”
(“Kitab-i-Aqdas” – Provisional translation from the Arabic) [Ed. – now authoritatively translated–par. 51]
SOME WORDS CAN BE A DEADLY POISON
“Every word is endowed with a spirit, therefore the speaker or expounder should carefully deliver his words at the appropriate time and place, for the impression which each word maketh is clearly evident and perceptible. The Great Being saith: One word may be likened unto fire, another unto light, and the influence which both exert is manifest in the world. Therefore an enlightened man of wisdom should primarily speak with words as mild as milk, that the children of men may be nurtured and edified thereby and may attain the ultimate goal of human existence which is the station of true understanding and nobility. And likewise He saith: One word is like unto springtime causing the tender saplings of the rose-garden of knowledge to become verdant and flourishing, while another word is even as a deadly poison. It behoveth a prudent man of wisdom to speak with utmost leniency and forbearance so that the sweetness of his words may induce everyone to attain that which befitteth man’s station.”
(Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas)
DON’T SWEAR, BUT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
“How often the beloved Master was heard to say. Should each one of the friends take upon himself to carry out, in all its integrity and implications, only one of the teachings of the Faith, with devotion, detachment, constancy and perseverance and exemplify it in all his deeds and pursuits of life, the world would become another world and the face of the earth would mirror forth the splendours of the Abha Paradise. Consider what marvellous changes would be effected if the beloved of the Merciful conducted themselves, both in their individual and collective capacities, in accordance with the counsels and exhortations which have streamed from the Pen of Glory.”
(From a letter dated 12 January 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá’ís of Persia – translated from the Persian)
YOUR CHARACTER CAN HELP HEAL THE WORLD
“The wish of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, that which attracts His good pleasure and, indeed, His binding command, is that Bahá’ís, in all matters, even in small daily transactions and dealings with others, should act in accordance with the divine Teachings … It is primarily through the potency of noble deeds and character, rather than by the power of exposition and proofs, that the friends of God should demonstrate to the world that what has been promised by God is bound to happen, that it is already taking place and that the divine glad-tidings are clear, evident and complete… deeds will well serve as eloquent testimony, and their noble conduct will ensure the preservation, integrity and glory of the Cause of God.”
(From a letter dated 19 December 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá’ís of the East – translated from the Persian)
AIM HIGHER THAN JUST AVOIDING SWEAR WORDS
“The chosen ones of God . . . should not look at the depraved condition of the society in which they live, nor at the evidences of moral degradation and frivolous conduct which the people around them display. They should not content themselves merely with relative distinction and excellence. Rather they should fix their gaze upon nobler heights by setting the counsels and exhortations of the Pen of Glory as their supreme goal. Then it will be readily realized how numerous are the stages that still remain to be traversed and how far off the desired goal lies–a goal which is none other than exemplifying heavenly morals and virtues.”
(From a letter dated 30 October 1924 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Teheran)
SHOW THE AMAZING POWER OF THE FAITH THROUGH YOUR CHARACTER
“The great thing is to “live the life”–to have our lives so saturated with the Divine teachings and the Bahá’í Spirit that people cannot fail to see a joy, a power, a love, a purity, a radiance, an efficiency in our character and work that will distinguish us from worldly-minded people and make people wonder what is the secret of this new life in us. We must become entirely selfless and devoted to God so that every day and every moment we seek to do only what God would have us do and in the way He would have us do it. If we do this sincerely then we shall have perfect unity and harmony with each other. Where there is want of harmony, there is lack of the true Bahá’í Spirit. Unless we can show this transformation in our lives, this new power, this mutual love and harmony, then the Bahá’í teachings are but a name to us.”
(From a letter dated 14 February 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
DON’T JUDGE OTHER BAHÁ’ÍS THAT SWEAR
“The friends must be patient with each other and must realize that the Cause is still in its infancy and its institutions are not yet functioning perfectly. The greater the patience, the loving understanding and the forbearance the believers show towards each other and their shortcomings, the greater will be the progress of the whole Bahá’í community at large.”
(From a letter dated 27 February 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
BE KIND OR BE SILENT
“To be no cause of grief to anyone.
To be kind to all people and to love them with a pure spirit.
Should opposition or injury happen to us, to bear it, to be as kind as ever can be, and through all, to love the people. Should calamity exist in the greatest degree, to rejoice, for these things are the gifts and favors of God.
To be silent concerning the faults of others, to pray for them, and to help them, through kindness, to correct their faults.
To look always at the good and not at the bad. If a man has ten good qualities and one bad one, look at the ten and forget the one. And if a man has ten bad qualities and one good one, to look at the one and forget the ten.
Never to allow ourselves to speak one unkind word about another, even though that other be our enemy.
To do all of our deeds in kindness.
To cut our hearts from ourselves and from the world.
To be humble.
To be servants of each other, and to know that we are less than anyone else.
To be as one soul in many bodies, for the more we love each other, the nearer we shall be to God; but to know that our love, our unity, our obedience must not be by confession, but of reality.
To act with cautiousness and wisdom.
To be truthful.
To be hospitable.
To be reverent.
To be the cause of healing for every sick one,
a comforter for every sorrowful one,
a pleasant water for every thirsty one.
a heavenly table for every hungry one,
a star to every horizon,
a light for every lamp,
a herald to everyone who yearns for the kingdom of God.”
( ‘Abdu’l-Bahá )
IMPROVE YOURSELF SO YOU CAN IMPROVE THE WORLD
“Indeed if the friends could seek, and exert themselves, to become 100 per cent Bahá’ís they would see how greatly their influence over others would be increased, and how rapidly the Cause would spread. The world is seeking not a compromise but the embodiment of a high and shining ideal. The more the friends live up to our teachings in every aspect of their lives, in their homes, in business, in their social relationships, the greater will be the attraction they exercise over the hearts of others.”
(Shoghi Effendi, Excellence in All Things)
SWEAR WORDS HURT PEOPLE
“A harsh word is like unto a sword, but gentle speech is like unto milk.”
(Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 132.)
SPEAK NO EVIL & HEAR NO EVIL
“O Companion of My Throne! Hear no evil, and see no evil, abase not thyself, neither sigh and weep. Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great; and wish not the abasement of anyone, that thine own abasement be not exposed. Live then the days of thy life, that are less than a fleeting moment, with thy mind stainless, thy heart unsullied, thy thoughts pure, and thy nature sanctified, so that, free and content, thou mayest put away this mortal frame, and repair unto the mystic paradise and abide in the eternal kingdom for evermore.”
(Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 37.)
CURSING IS SO STRONG THAT IT WAS USED TO PROVE DISBELIEF IN BAHÁ’U’LLÁH
“In the above passage Bahá’u’lláh speaks of cursing by the people.
It was a common practice by the enemies of the Faith to curse its Founders. When a Bahá’í was condemned to die for his faith, he would invariably be given a chance to recant. If he did, his life would be saved. But often the mere act of recanting was not considered sufficient. The basic reason for this was that dissimulation of one’s faith was considered by the followers of Shí‘ah Islam to be a legitimate action to take at times of danger.
The practice of dissimulation was widespread among the population of Persia for centuries. Although it amounted to telling a lie concerning one’s beliefs, no blame was attached to it. It was considered to be an acceptable way of life, and even some believers in the early days of the Faith followed this practice in order to save their lives. This is why at times some of the enemies of the Faith insisted that it was not sufficient for a Bahá’í to recant his faith. In addition to recanting he had to curse Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Faith, in order that his life might be saved. Cursing was considered to be a test of sincerity for the one who was asked to recant. It must be noted that it is forbidden for a Bahá’í to dissimulate his faith.
The practice of cursing was not limited to these occasions only; it was much more widespread. Cursing Bahá’u’lláh and other Central Figures of the Faith was considered by the Muslim clergy in Persia to be an act of devotion to God and a great service to Islam. They often cursed the Faith from the pulpit during their sermons. Many a devout Muslim of the Shí‘ah sect would take pride in hurling imprecations at the Founders of the Faith in public when a Bahá’í passed him by. This was one form of severe mental persecution which many Bahá’ís had to endure day after day.”