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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 175-176

Chapter 11: Various Ordinances and Teachings

Know thou that in every age and dispensation all divine ordinances are changed and transformed according to the requirement of the time, except the law of love, which, like a fountain, always flows and is never overtaken by change.—BAHÁ’U’LLÁH.

Monastic Life

Bahá’u’lláh, like Muḥammad, forbids His followers to lead lives of monastic seclusion.
In the Tablet to Napoleon III we read:—
O concourse of monks! Seclude not yourselves in churches and cloisters. Come forth by My leave, and occupy yourselves with that which will profit your souls and the souls of men. … Enter ye into wedlock, that after you someone may fill your place. We have forbidden you perfidious acts, and not that which will demonstrate fidelity. Have ye clung to the standards fixed by your own selves, and cast the standards of God behind your backs? Fear God, and be not of the foolish. But for man, who would make mention of Me on My earth, and how could My attributes and My name have been revealed? Ponder ye, and be not of them that are veiled and fast asleep. He that wedded not (Jesus) found no place wherein to dwell or lay His head, by reason of that which the hands of the treacherous had wrought. His sanctity consisteth not in that which ye believe or fancy, but rather in the things We possess. Ask, that ye may apprehend His station 176 which hath been exalted above the imaginings of all that dwell on earth. Blessed are they who perceive it.
Does it not seem strange that Christian sects should have instituted the monastic life and celibacy for the clergy, in view of the facts that Christ chose married men for His disciples, and both He Himself and His apostles lived lives of active beneficence, in close association and familiar intercourse with the people?
In the Muḥammadan Qur’án we read:—
To Jesus the son of Mary We gave the Gospel, and We put into the hearts of those who followed Him kindness and compassion: but as to the monastic life, they invented it themselves. The desire only of pleasing god did We prescribe to them, and this they observed not as it ought to have been observed.—Qur’án, s. lviii. 27.
Whatever justification there may have been for the monastic life in ancient times and bygone circumstances, Bahá’u’lláh declares that such justification no longer exists; and, indeed, it seems obvious that the withdrawal of a large number of the most pious and God-fearing of the population from association with their fellows, and from the duties and responsibilities of parenthood, must result in the spiritual impoverishment of the race.