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Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 158-160

Religious Prejudices

In order to see clearly how the Most Great Peace may be established, let us first examine the principle causes that have led to war in the past and see how Bahá’u’lláh proposes to deal with each.
One of the most fertile causes of war has been religious prejudice. With regard to this the Bahá’í teachings show clearly that animosity and conflict between people of different religions and sects have always been due, not to true religion, but to the want of it, and to its replacement by false prejudices, imitations and misrepresentations.
In one of His talks in Paris, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:
Religion should unite all hearts and cause wars and disputes to vanish from the face of the earth; it should give birth to spirituality, and bring light and life to every soul. If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division it would be better to be without it, and to withdraw from such a religion would be a truly religious act. For it is clear that the purpose of a remedy is to cure, but if the remedy only aggravates the complaint, it had better be left alone. Any religion which is not a cause of love and unity is no religion.
Again He says:—
From the beginning of human history down to the 159 present time various religions of the world have anathematized one another and accused one another of falsity. … They have shunned one another most rigidly, exercising mutual animosity and rancor. Consider the history of religious warfare. … One of the greatest religious wars, the Crusaders, extended over a period of 200 years. … Sometimes the Crusaders were successful, killing, pillaging and taking captive Muḥammadan people; sometimes the Mussulmans were victorious, inflicting bloodshed and ruin in turn upon the invaders.
So they continued for two centuries, alternately fighting with fury and relaxing with weakness until the European religionists withdrew from the East, leaving ashes of desolation behind them and finding their own nations in a condition of turbulence and upheaval. … Yet this was only one of the “Holy wars.”

Religious wars have been many. Nine hundred thousand martyrs of the Protestant cause was the record of conflict and difference between that sect of Christians and the Catholics. … How many languished in prisons! How merciless the treatment of captives! All in the name of religion!

The Christians and Muḥammadans considered the Jews as satanic and the enemies of God. Therefore they cursed and persecuted them. Great numbers of Jews were killed, their houses burnt and pillaged, their children carried into captivity. The Jews in turn regarded the Christians as infidels, and the Muḥammadans as enemies and destroyers of the laws of Moses; therefore they called down vengeance upon them and curse them even to this day.

When the light of Bahá’u’lláh dawned from the East, He proclaimed the promise of the oneness of humanity. He addressed all mankind saying: “Ye are all fruits of one tree. There are not two trees, one a tree of divine mercy, the other a tree of Satan.” … Therefore we must exercise the utmost love toward one another. We must not consider any people the people of Satan, but 160 know and recognize all as servants of one God. At most it is this: some do not know, they must be guided and trained. … Some are ignorant, they must be informed. Some are as children, they must be helped to reach maturity. Some are ailing, their moral condition is bad, they must be treated until their morals are purified. But the sick man is not to be hated because he is sick; the child must not be shunned because he is a child, the ignorant one is not to be despised because he lacks knowledge. They must be treated, educated, trained and assisted in love. Everything must be done in order that all humanity may live under the shadow of God in the utmost security, in happiness of the highest type.