Talk Given by Abdu’l-Baha at the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking on 17 January 1913

What follows is a provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of a talk that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave at the Sháh Jahán Mosque in Woking, England, on 17 January 1913. A transcript of the original text of this talk is published in Najm-i-Bákhtar, vol. 12, no. 10, pp. 17476. A brief account of the occasion, extracted from The Asiatic [Quarterly] Review, has been published in The Bahá’í World, vol. 3, p. 278. A longer paraphrase of this talk, along with a (rather flawed) translation of the closing prayer, has been published in Amín Egea, Apostle of Peace, vol. 2, pp. 62–70. 

For nine months, I traveled through the states of America and spoke at many churches, gatherings, and clubs. Even in the synagogues of the Jews, I raised the call for the oneness of humanity, summoning everyone to universal peace. I explained the basis of the divine religions—that they all share a single foundation and stem from the truth, and that the truth admits of no multiplicity. The foundation of the divine religions is love. Religion is the cause of humanity’s edification—it guides them to human virtues, it is the basis of mutual aid and cooperation, it is a heavenly foundation, it is the means through which people are linked together—but what leads to dissension are blind imitations, and since such imitations are diverse, they conduce to conflict and contention.

Fundamentally speaking, every religion consists of two aspects. One of these is essential; it pertains to the domain of morality and is not subject to change. It is the basis of faith and belief in God, as well as good deeds and the virtues of mankind, [such as] love, justice, equality, and beneficence. Hence, it will never change. Adam promulgated this very thing, Noah imparted this same message, Abraham revealed this very Cause, Moses established these same principles, Christ promoted this very foundation, and Muḥammad hoisted this same banner. This is the basis underlying all the divine Scriptures; it will never be subject to change.

The other aspect, however, is secondary; it pertains to our dealings with others, which change according to the exigencies of the time. We must, therefore, renounce all blind imitations; investigate the foundation of the religion of God; and become united, one and all. Moses was raised up, and He established a religious law. When Christ came, He affirmed the truth of Moses, praising Him and the Torah to the utmost. Indeed, He caused the fame of His name to be spread throughout the world. And when Muḥammad came, He declared that Christ was of God and that the Gospel was divine Scripture. He, too, extended the utmost praise to Moses. In the Qur’án, a Súrih has even been revealed that is devoted specifically to Mary, where one finds the amplest praise and highest glorification of Christ and the Apostles. It has there been likewise revealed that “Christians are more friend to you than any other people.”[1] Christians as the friends of Muslims, and these are the words of the Qur’án; we cannot alter the divine Text. God has enjoined that the People of the Book be treated with kindness: “Dispute not with the People of the Book except in the kindliest manner.”[2] And yet, some of the priests deemed Muḥammad to be an enemy opposed to Christ, just as the Jews imagined that Christ was an enemy of Moses. This, however, is an error. They all loved one another; each was the other’s friend. Why, then, should we not be friends? They were at peace with one another; why should we make war? Each affirmed the truth of the other; why should we condemn [one another] as liars?

Praised be God, this is the century of light. Minds have progressed, thoughts have broadened, and realities have been discovered. This is the time in which love and fellowship will be manifested among all—the time when the religions shall become connected to one another. For six thousand years, humanity has been embroiled in war and strife. Love must now have a turn, and peace be given a chance. God has created mankind as human beings. Why should they be animals, tearing one another to pieces like wolves? God has fashioned us as sheep—we are all His flock, and He is the True Shepherd. He is kind to everyone; why should we be unkind?

At a time when the peoples of the East were engaged in conflict and contention—when the various kindreds spilled each other’s blood, and when the utmost war and strife prevailed, along with the darkness of ignorance and estrangement—it was at such a time as this that Bahá’u’lláh rose from the horizon of the East, since the Sun of Truth has always shone from the East upon the West. Hence, it was in the East that Bahá’u’lláh first proclaimed the oneness of humanity and universal peace, raising the call of peace among diverse kindreds, races, and nations. He gathered the various peoples and fostered fellowship among the religions, as evidenced by the fact that His followers in the East who belong to different kindreds now live in the greatest harmony. They are like brothers to one another; each loves the other and accounts him as belonging to the same tribe. Furthermore, Bahá’u’lláh declared that religion must be the cause of love and the world’s illumination—that it must conduce to the oneness of humanity—and that if it leads to war and strife and results in ferocious bloodshed, it would be better to dispense with it, as God established religion to bring about fellowship, not hatred, and so that people would become linked together, not seek to avoid one another. Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed, moreover, that religion must accord with science and reason, and that if it does not, it is mere superstition.

In brief, Bahá’u’lláh brought harmony and healing to all the peoples of the East, such that His followers today refer to the Gospel, the Torah, the Psalms, and the Qur’án as divine Scripture; they invite everyone to unity and peace. In the Torah, God has called all humanity His sheep;[3] in the Gospel, it is stated that His sun shines on everyone;[4] and in the Qur’án, it is revealed: “No difference canst thou see in the creation of the God of Mercy.”[5] These books summon all to unity; why should we be in conflict? The religions point the way to love; why should we hate? All the Prophets came to establish fellowship and unity; each of them suffered thousands of blows. Why must we be this way, wasting the toil of the Prophets and using the law of God as a pretext? What is it that compels us to do this?

Praised be God, we are all the servants of one Lord; we are the flock of a single Shepherd, and God is kind to everyone. We are all His creation; His favors extend to everyone, and all are immersed in the sea of His mercy. Hence, we must give thanks, not engage in war and strife, toppling the Edifice of God in so doing. This would be unseemly. Is this the cause of abasement or glory? Would it conduce to virtue or vice? Does it indicate perfection or deficiency? Every fair-minded person will attest that peace is better than war, that love is better than hate, and that fellowship is better than estrangement. The good-pleasure of God consists in this, our glory consists in this, tranquility and eternal life consist in this. We should not be so heedless, so ferocious, so unfair as to engage in this sort of war and strife instead of giving thanks. Ignorance prevailed in former centuries. Peoples had yet to associate with one another; misunderstandings were predominant. Praised be God that ties have now been formed among humanity—that misunderstandings have faded away, and the realities of [the divine] laws appeared. Let us give thanks in order that we may apprehend the truth, and let there be no doubt that true gratitude consists in the oneness of humanity.

(The gathering was concluded with this prayer.)

O God, my God! I humbly supplicate Thee; on Thee do I place my whole reliance, and before Thee do I fervently pray. O God, my God! Lead us to the Straight Path. O God, my God! Guide us to the Broad Way. O God, my God! Dilate our breasts with the light of Thy knowledge, and illumine our eyes with the splendors of Thy guidance. O God, my God! Behold us with the glances of Thy compassion. O God, my God! I beseech Thee by the glorious rank of the Manifestation of Thy Noble Self, Him Who is Thy Great Messenger, to immerse us in the oceans of Thy mercy and send down the sustenance of Thy grace from heaven. O God, my God! The darksome palls of waywardness have grown thick; I entreat Thee by Thy mighty light to lead us to the Path of salvation and show us Thy perspicuous signs. Thou, verily, art the Generous; Thou, verily, art the Almighty; Thou, verily, art the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.


[1] Possibly a paraphrase of Qur’án 5:82.

[2] Qur’án 29:46.

[3] Possibly a reference to Psalm 23:1.

[4] cf. Matthew 5:45.

[5] Qur’án 67:3.

A typescript of the original Persian and Arabic text of this talk appears below (all punctuation and short vowel marks mine). 

نُه ماه بود که من در ممالکِ امریکا سیر می‌کردم و در بسیار از کنائس و مجامع و کلوب‌ها صحبت می‌داشتم، حتی در کنائسِ یهود ندا به وحدتِ عالمِ انسانی می‌نمودم و کلّ را دعوت به صلحِ عمومی می‌کردم. اساسِ ادیانِ الهی بیان نمودم که اساسِ کلّ یکی است و از حقیقت است و حقیقت تعدّد قبول نکند. اساسِ ادیانِ الهی محبّت است. دین سببِ تربیتِ بشر است — دلالت بر فضائلِ عالمِ انسانی نماید، اساسِ تعاون و تعاضد است، اساسِ آسمانیست، سببِ ارتباط بین بشر است — لکن آنچه سببِ اختلاف است تقالید است، و چون تقالید مختلف است، سببِ نزاع و جدال است.

اصلاً هر دینی به دو قسم منقسم. قسمی اصلی است و آن تعلّق به عالمِ اخلاق دارد و تغییر نمی‌کند — اساسِ ایمان و اعتقاد است به خدا، اعمالِ خیریه است و فضائلِ عالمِ انسانی و محبّت و عدالت و مساوات و احسان است — لذا ابداً تغییر ندارد. آدم همین را گفت، نوح همین بیان نمود، حضرتِ ابراهیم همین امر را ظاهر کرد، حضرتِ موسی همین را تأسیس نمود، حضرتِ مسیح همین اساس را ترویج فرمود، حضرتِ محمّد همین عَلَم را بلند فرمود. این اساسِ جمیعِ کتبِ الهیه است؛ ابداً تغییر ندارد.

امّا قسمِ ثانی فرع است و تعلّق به معاملات دارد که به اقتضایِ زمان تبدیل می‌شود. پس، ما باید جمیعِ تقالید را ترک و اساسِ دینُ الله را تحرّی کنیم و جمیع متّحد شویم. حضرتِ موسی مبعوث، شریعتی تأسیس کرد؛ چون حضرتِ مسیح آمد، تصدیقِ موسی را نمود و نهایتِ ستایش از حضرتِ موسی و تورات کرد؛ نامش را در آفاق منتشر ساخت. و چون حضرتِ محمّد آمد، اعلان فرمود که حضرتِ مسیح مِن عندِ الله بود و انجیل کتابُ الله، و همچنین نهایتِ ستایش از حضرتِ موسی کرد. حتی در قرآن یک سوره‌ای مخصوصِ مریم نازل شده که در آن نهایتِ ستایش است و کمالِ تمجید از حضرتِ مسیح و حواریان، و همچنین می‌فرماید نصاری از جمیعِ طوائف به شما دوست‌ترند. نصاری دوستِ مسلمان، و این نصِّ قرآن است؛ ما نمی‌توانیم نصِّ الهی را تغییر دهیم. با اهلِ کتاب امر به محبّت فرمودند. می‌فرمایند: «لَا تُجَادِلُواْ أَهْلَ الْکِتَابِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِی هِیَ أَحْسَنْ.» امّا بعضی از کشیش‌ها گمان کردند که حضرتِ محمّد دشمن و مخالفِ مسیح بود، چنانچه یهود گمان کردند حضرتِ مسیح دشمنِ موسی است. و حال آنکه این خطاست؛ جمیع با هم محبّت داشتند، دوستِ یکدیگر بودند. پس چرا ماها دوست نباشیم؟ این‌ها با یکدیگر صلح بودند؛ ما چرا جنگ کنیم؟ این‌ها مصدّقِ یکدیگر بودند؛ ما چرا تکذیب نمائیم؟

الحمدلله این قرنْ قرنِ نورانیست؛ عقول ترقّی نموده، افکار توسیع یافته، حقائق کشف شده. این زمانْ زمانی است که بینِ کلّ محبّت [و] الفت پیدا شود، زمانی است که ادیان با هم ارتباط یابند. شش هزار سال است بشر در جنگ و جدال است. حال دیگر نوبتِ محبّت است، نوبتِ صلح است. خداوندْ عالمِ انسان را انسان آفریده؛ چرا باید حیوان باشد، بشر مانندِ گرگ یکدیگر را بدرند؟ خدا ما را اغنام خلق کرده؛ جمیعْ اغنامِ اوئیم، و او شبان حقیقی. او به جمیعِ ما مهربان است؛ چرا ما نامهربان باشیم؟

در وقتی که اممِ شرق در جنگ و جدال بودند — طوائف خونِ یکدیگر می‌ریختند، نهایتِ جنگ و جدال بود و ظلمتِ جهالت و بیگانگی — حضرتِ بهاءالله در همچو وقتی از افقِ شرق طالع شد، چون همیشه از شرق شمسِ حقیقت به غرب تابیده. لهذا حضرتِ بهاءالله اوّل در شرق اعلانِ وحدتِ عالم انسانی و صلحِ عمومی فرمود، و ندایِ صلح بین ملل، صلح بینِ اقوام و اجناس، صلح بینِ اوطان بلند نمود. اقوامِ مختلفه را جمع کرد، بینِ ادیان الفت داد، چنانکه پیروانِ بهاءالله در شرق از اقوامِ مختلفه با هم در نهایتِ الفتند، با هم مانندِ برادرند، یکدیگر دوست دارند و همدیگر را یک قبیله شمارند. و دیگر حضرتِ بهاءالله فرمود دین باید سبب محبّت و نورانیّتِ عالم باشد، سببِ وحدتِ عالمِ انسانی شود؛ اگر سببِ جنگ و جدال شود و سببِ خونریزی و درندگی، ترکِ دین بهتر است، زیرا خدا دین را برایِ الفت قرار داد، نه نفرت؛ تا بشر با هم ارتباط یابند، نه اجتناب جویند. و دیگر فرمود که باید دین مطابقِ علم و عقل باشد؛ اگر نباشد، وهم است.

مختصر جمیعِ طوائفِ شرق الفت و التیام داد که الان پیروانِ بهاءالله انجیل، تورات، زبور، قرآن، جمیع را کتبِ الهی نامند؛ جمیع را دعوت به اتّحاد و صلح نمایند. خدا در تورات جمیعِ بشر را اغنامِ خود خوانده، در انجیل می‌فرماید آفتابِ خدا بر جمیع می‌تابد، و در قرآن می‌فرماید: «لَا تَرَی فِی خَلْقِ الرَّحْمَنِ مِنْ تَفَاوُتٍ.» این کتب جمیع را به اتّحاد دعوت می‌نماید؛ چرا ما اختلاف نمائیم؟ ادیان دلالت بر محبّت می‌کند؛ چرا ما عداوت نمائیم؟ جمیعِ انبیا به جهتِ الفت و اتّحاد آمدند، هر یک هزارها صدمه کشید؛ چرا ما باید چنین باشیم، زحماتِ انبیا را هدر دهیم و شریعتُ الله را بهانه نمائیم؟ چه ما را مجبور می‌نماید؟

الحمدلله جمیعِ ما بندگان یک خدا، اغنامِ یک شبان هستیم، و خدا به جمیع مهربان. جمیعْ خلقِ اوئیم و الطافِ او شاملِ جمیع و در بحرِ رحمتش کلّ مستغرق. پس، باید به شکرانه پردازیم، نه به جنگ و جدال پردازیم و بنیانِ الهی را براندازیم؛ این سزاوار نیست. آیا این سببِ ذلّت است یا عزّت؟ مُورِثِ فضائل است یا رذائل؟ دلیلِ کمال است یا نقص؟ هر باانصافی شهادت دهد که صلح بهتر از جنگ است، محبّت بهتر از عداوت است، الفت بهتر از کلفت است. رضایِ الهی در این است، عزّتِ ما در این است، راحت و حیاتِ ابدیّه در این. نباید ما آن قدر غافل باشیم، درنده باشیم، بی‌انصاف باشیم و در مقابلِ شکرانه این گونه جنگ و جدال نمائیم. قرونِ ماضیه جهل مستولی بود، مراوده بینِ بشر نبود، سوءِ تفاهم غالب بود. الحمدلله حال بینِ بشر روابط حاصل و سوءِ تفاهم زائل و حقائق شرائع ظاهر گشته. و به شکرانه پردازیم تا به حقیقت پی بریم، و شبهه نیست که شکرانۀ حقیقی وحدتِ عالمِ انسانی است.

(مجلس به این مناجات ختم شد.)

إِلَهِي إِلَهِي، إِنِّي أَتَضَرَّعُ إِلَيْكَ وَأَتَوَكَّلُ عَلَيْكَ وَأَبْتَهِلُ بَيْنَ يَدَيْكَ. إِلَهِي إِلَهِي، إِهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمِ. إِلَهِي إِلَهِي، دِلْنَا عَلَى الْمِنْهَجِ الْقَوِيمِ. إِلَهِي إِلَهِي، اِشْرَحْ صُدُورَنَا بِنُورِ مَعْرِفَتِكَ وَنَوِّرْ أَبْصَارَنَا بِأَنْوَارِ هِدَايَتِكَ. إلهي إلهي، اِشْمَلْنَا بِلَحَظَاتِ عَیْنِ رَأْفَتِكَ. إِلَهِي إِلَهِي، إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ بِجَاهِ مَظْهَرِ نَفْسِكَ الْكَرِيمِ وَرَسُولِكَ الْعَظِيمِ أَنْ تَغْرِقْنَا فِي بِحَارِ رَحْمَتِكَ وَتُنْزِلَ مِنَ السَّمَاء مَائِدَةَ فَضْلِكَ. إِلَهِي إِلَهِي، قَدِ اشْتَدَّتْ ظُلُمَاتُ الضَّلَالَةِ؛ أَسْأَلُكَ بِنُورِكَ الْعَظِيمِ أَنْ تَهْدِينَا إِلَى سَبِيلِ النَّجَاةِ وَتُرِينَا آيَاتِ الْبَيِّنَاتِ. إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْكَرِيمُ، إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْعَظِيمُ، إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الرَّحْمَنُ الرَّحِيمُ.