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Some Answered Questions

  • Author:
  • ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990 reprint of pocket-size edition
  • Pages:
  • 305
Go to printed page GO
Pages 129-131


Question.—In the Gospel Christ said: “Many are called, but few are chosen,” 1 and in the Qur’án it is written: “He will confer particular mercy on whom He pleaseth.” What is the wisdom of this?
Answer.—Know that the order and the perfection of the whole universe require that existence should appear in numberless forms. For existing beings could not be embodied in only one degree, one station, one kind, one species and one class; undoubtedly, the difference of degrees and distinction of forms, and the variety of genus and species, are necessary—that is to say, the degree of mineral, vegetable, animal substances, and of man, are inevitable; for the world could not be arranged, adorned, organized and perfected with man alone. In the same way, with only animals, only plants or only minerals, this world could not show forth beautiful scenery, exact organization and exquisite adornment. Without doubt it is because of the varieties of degrees, stations, species and classes that existence becomes resplendent with utmost perfection.
For example, if this tree were entirely fruit, the vegetable perfections could not be attained; for leaves, blossoms and fruits are all necessary so that the tree may be adorned with utmost beauty and perfection.
In the same way consider the body of man. It must be composed of different organs, parts and members. Human 130 beauty and perfection require the existence of the ear, the eye, the brain and even that of the nails and hair; if man were all brain, eyes or ears, it would be equivalent to imperfection. So the absence of hair, eyelashes, teeth and nails would be an absolute defect, though in comparison with the eye they are without feeling, and in this resemble the mineral and plant; but their absence in the body of man is necessarily faulty and displeasing.
As the degrees of existence are different and various, some beings are higher in the scale than others. Therefore, it is by the will and wish of God that some creatures are chosen for the highest degree, as man, and some others are placed in the middle degree, as the vegetable, and some are left in the lowest degree, like the mineral.
It is from the bounty of God that man is selected for the highest degree; and the differences which exist between men in regard to spiritual progress and heavenly perfections are also due to the choice of the Compassionate One. For faith, which is life eternal, is the sign of bounty, and not the result of justice. The flame of the fire of love, in this world of earth and water, comes through the power of attraction and not by effort and striving. Nevertheless, by effort and perseverance, knowledge, science and other perfections can be acquired; but only the light of the Divine Beauty can transport and move the spirits through the force of attraction. Therefore, it is said: “Many are called, but few are chosen.” 2
But the material beings are not despised, judged and held responsible for their own degree and station. For example, mineral, vegetable and animal in their various degrees are acceptable; but if in their own degree they remain imperfect, they are blamable, the degree itself being purely perfect.
The differences among mankind are of two sorts: one is a difference of station, and this difference is not 131 blameworthy. The other is a difference of faith and assurance; the loss of these is blameworthy, for then the soul is overwhelmed by his desires and passions, which deprive him of these blessings and prevent him from feeling the power of attraction of the love of God. Though that man is praiseworthy and acceptable in his station, yet as he is deprived of the perfections of that degree, he will become a source of imperfections, for which he is held responsible. 3
1. Matt. 22:14.   [ Back To Reference]
2. Matt. 22:14.   [ Back To Reference]
3. Cf. “The Causes of Differences in the Characters of Men,” p. 212.   [ Back To Reference]