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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 169-171


As a religious body, Bahá’ís have, at the express command of Bahá’u’lláh, entirely abandoned the use of armed force in their own interests, even for strictly defensive purposes. In Persia many, many thousands of the Bábís and Bahá’ís have suffered cruel deaths because of their faith. In the early days 170 of the Cause the Bábís on various occasions defended themselves and their families by the sword, with great courage and bravery. Bahá’u’lláh, however, forbade this. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá writes:—
When Bahá’u’lláh appeared, He declared that the promulgation of the truth by such means must on no account be allowed, even for purposes of self-defense. He abrogated the rule of the sword and annulled the ordinance of “Holy War.” “If ye be slain,” said He, “it is better for you than to slay. It is through the firmness and assurance of the faithful that the Cause of the Lord must be diffused. As the faithful, fearless and undaunted, arise with absolute detachment to exalt the Word of God, and, with eyes averted from the things of this world, engaged in service for the Lord’s sake and by His power, thereby will they cause the Word of Truth to triumph. These blessed souls bear witness by their lifeblood to the truth of the Cause and attest it by the sincerity of their faith, their devotion and their constancy. The Lord can avail to diffuse His Cause and to defeat the froward. We desire no defender but Him, and with our lives in our hands face the foe and welcome martyrdom.” (written by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for this book).
Bahá’u’lláh wrote to one of the persecutors of His cause:—
Gracious God! This people need no weapons of destruction, inasmuch as they have girded themselves to reconstruct the world. Their hosts are the hosts of goodly deeds, and their arms the arms of upright conduct, and their commander the fear of God. Blessed that one that judgeth with fairness. By the righteousness of God! Such hath been the patience, the calm, the resignation of contentment of this people that they have become the exponents of justice, and so great hath been their forbearance, that they have suffered themselves to be killed rather than kill, and this notwithstanding that these whom the world hath wronged have endured tribulations the like of which 171 the history of the world hath never recorded, nor the eyes of any nation witnessed. What is it that could have induced them to reconcile themselves to these grievous trials, and to refuse to put forth a hand to repel them? What could have caused such resignation and serenity? The true cause is to be found in the band which the Pen of Glory hath, day and night, chosen to impose, and in Our assumption of the reins of authority, through the power and might of Him Who is the Lord of all mankind.—Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 74–75.
The soundness of Bahá’u’lláh’s nonresistance policy has already been proved by results. For every believer martyred in Persia, the Bahá’í faith has received a hundred new believers into its fold, and the glad and dauntless way in which these martyrs cast the crowns of their lives at the feet of their Lord has furnished to the world the clearest proof that they had found a new life for which death has no terrors, a life of ineffable fullness and joy, compared with which the pleasures of earth are but as dust in the balance, and the most fiendish physical tortures but trifles light as air.