There has never been a futurist, a forecaster, or a prophet whose vision has so accurately foreseen the critical features of the landscape before humanity.
One of the extraordinary features of the writings of Bahaullah is the degree to which they accurately forecast the cutting edge issues that humanity has increasingly faced.
Throughout His writings, Bahá’u’lláh called for a complete restructuring of the global social order. His vision of renewal touches on all aspects of life, from personal morality to economics and governance; from community development to religious practice.
The central theme of Bahá’u’lláh’s writings is that humanity is one single race and the day has come for its unification into one global society. Through an irresistible historical process, the traditional barriers of race, class, creed, faith and nation will break down. These forces will, Bahá’u’lláh said, give birth in time to a new universal civilization. The crises now afflicting the planet face all its peoples with the need to accept their oneness and work towards the creation of a unified global society.
Bahá’u’lláh outlined certain fundamental principles upon which this new world civilization should be founded. These include the elimination of all forms of prejudice; full equality between the sexes; recognition of the essential oneness of the world’s great religions; the elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth; universal education; a high standard of personal conduct; the harmony of science and religion; a sustainable balance between nature and technology; and the establishment of a world federal system, based on collective security and the oneness of humanity.
Covering questions pertaining to the role of women, race relations, economic justice, environmental degradation, and world order, these principles illustrate the concerns that have fuelled the century’s most dynamic movements. And, accordingly, they have come to head the social and political agenda of humanity.
There has never been a futurist, a forecaster, or a prophet whose vision has so accurately foreseen the critical features of the social landscape. Far from fading, a century after He lived, the issues Bahá’u’lláh focused on have come to dominate the collective life of humanity.
Unity the Theme
The Bahá’í Faith’s progressive approach to human society originates with Bahá’u’lláh’s emphasis on unity. Indeed, if one were to characterize His teachings in a single word, that word would be unity.
Throughout His writings, Bahá’u’lláh emphasized the importance–and the reality–of unity and oneness. First, God is one. All of the world’s great religions are also one. They represent humanity’s responses to the revelations of the word and will of God for humanity by successive Messengers from the one God. These understandings lie at the heart of the concept of unity in Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings.
From this fundamental concept of Divine and religious unity, other principles emerge. Bahá’u’lláh teaches that all humans, as creations of the one God, are also one people. Distinctions of race, nation, class or ethnic origin are ephemeral when understood in this context. Likewise, any notions of individual, tribal, provincial or national superiority are discarded in the Bahá’í Faith. Speaking through Bahá’u’lláh, the voice of God proclaims:
The idea that all humanity is one race forms the foundation for the other principles of social justice in the Bahá’í Faith. Bahá’u’lláh condemned racial and ethnic prejudice, urging: “Close your eyes to racial differences, and welcome all with the light of oneness.”
Bahá’u’lláh also unequivocally proclaimed the equality of the sexes-at a time when the women’s movement was only beginning its fight for suffrage in the West and such ideas were unheard of in the Middle East-thus becoming the first Founder of a world religion to explicitly uphold strict equality for women and men.
Indeed, girls should receive priority in education–if by some circumstance a family (or a society) cannot afford to educate its children equally. “Until the reality of equality between men and women is fully established and attained, the highest social development of mankind is not possible,” the Bahá’í scriptures state.
This challenge to full equality does not ignore natural differences between the sexes. Bahá’u’lláh emphasized the importance of motherhood, fatherhood and family life.
Bahá’u’lláh’s call for economic justice also reflects His central theme of human oneness. He wrote extensively about the necessity of promoting economic justice and proposed specific remedies to help control the extreme inequalities of wealth in human society. The redistribution of wealth through a tax on income, for example, and the concept of profit-sharing are both promoted in His teachings.