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. 174–76. 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.” 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.” 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; in the Gospel, it is stated that His sun shines on everyone; and in the Qur’án, it is revealed: “No difference canst thou see in the creation of the God of Mercy.” 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.
 Possibly a paraphrase of Qur’án 5:82.
 Qur’án 29:46.
 Possibly a reference to Psalm 23:1.
 cf. Matthew 5:45.
 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).