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The elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth

The elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth

“Fewer than 100 people control as much of the world’s wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion combined.” — World Bank President Jim Yong Kim

O YE RICH ONES ON EARTH! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease. Bahá’u’lláh. Hidden Words.

O CHILDREN OF DUST! Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth. Bahá’u’lláh. Hidden Words.

“The unity of humankind foreseen by Bahá’u’lláh is unity based on justice. One of the most striking examples of injustice in the world today is the grave imbalance in economic and material conditions. A relatively small percentage of humankind has immense wealth, while the majority of the world’s population lives in dire poverty and misery. This imbalance exists both within nations and between nations. Moreover, the gap that separates rich and poor continues to widen, which indicates that existing economic systems are incapable of restoring a just balance.”BIC

… be one in thought. May each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday. Man’s merit lieth in service and virtue and not in the pageantry of wealth and riches. Take heed that your words be purged from idle fancies and worldly desires and your deeds be cleansed from craftiness and suspicion. Dissipate not the wealth of your precious lives in the pursuit of evil and corrupt affection, nor let your endeavors be spent in promoting your personal interest. Be generous in your days of plenty, and be patient in the hour of loss. Adversity is followed by success and rejoicings follow woe. Guard against idleness and sloth, and cling unto that which profiteth mankind, whether young or old, whether high or low. Beware lest ye sow tares of dissension among men or plant thorns of doubt in pure and radiant hearts.Bahá’u’lláh. “Lawh-i-Hikmat (Tablet of Wisdom).”

“…the happiness and greatness, the rank and station, the pleasure and peace, of an individual have never consisted in his personal wealth, but rather in his excellent character, his high resolve, the breadth of his learning, and his ability to solve difficult problems.” (Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 23)

“O My servants! Were ye to discover the hidden, the shoreless oceans of My incorruptible wealth, ye would, of a certainty, esteem as nothing the world, nay, the entire creation.” (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 323)

Know ye that the poor are the trust of God in your midst. Watch that ye betray not His trust, that ye deal not unjustly with them and that ye walk not in the ways of the treacherous. Ye will most certainly be called upon to answer for His trust on the day when the Balance of Justice shall be set, the day when unto every one shall be rendered his due, when the doings of all men, be they rich or poor, shall be weighed. 252

(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 251)

Seventhly: The arrangements of the circumstances of the people must be such that poverty shall disappear, and that every one as far as possible, according to his position and rank, shall be comfortable. Whilst the nobles and others in high rank are in easy circumstances, the poor also should be able to get their daily food and not be brought to the extremities of hunger.

(Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 29)

To know that it is possible to reach a state of perfection, is good; to march forward on the path is better. We know that to help the poor and to be merciful is good and pleases God, but knowledge alone does not feed the starving man, nor can the poor be warmed by knowledge or words in the bitter winter; we must give the practical help of Loving-kindness.

(Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 60)

54. O YE RICH ONES ON EARTH!
The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.

(Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words)

O Children of Dust!

Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness may lead them (the rich) into the path of destruction; and deprive them of the tree of wealth. To give and to be generous
(BW – Baha’i World Volumes, Volume 4, p. 446)

O son of Man! Bestow My wealth upon My poor, that in heaven thou mayest draw from stores of unfading splendor and treasures of imperishable glory.”

O Son of Spirit! Vaunt not thyself over the poor, for I lead him on his way and behold thee in thy evil plight and confound thee forevermore.~~

O Son of Man! Thou dost wish for gold, and I desire thy freedom therefrom. Thou thinkest thyself rich in its possession, and I recognize thy wealth in thy sanctity therefrom. With fire, we test the gold, and with gold, we test the servants.
(BW – Baha’i World Volumes, Volume 4, p. 446)

All that you have was created by my Word, did you but know. Say: In this day, no one can become rich save by making himself poor in the presence of God.
(Súriy-i-Asháb, Surah of the Companions – Cole)

20
Do right to the widow, judge for the fatherless, give to the poor, defend the orphan, clothe the naked,

21
Heal the broken and the weak, laugh not a lame man to scorn, defend the maimed, and let the blind man come into the sight of
my clearness.
(Deuterocanonical Apocrypha, Esdras 2 (Ezra 4))

Let it not grieve thee to bow down thine ear to the poor, and give him a friendly answer with meekness.
(Deuterocanonical Apocrypha, Sirach)
32
And stretch thine hand unto the poor, that thy blessing may
be perfected.
(Deuterocanonical Apocrypha, Sirach)

Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor, for yours is the Kingdom
of Heaven.”
(Other Apocrypha, The Gospel of Thomas)

For far be it, that in Thy tabernacle the persons of the rich should be accepted before the poor, or the noble before the ignoble; seeing rather Thou hast chosen the weak things of the world to confound the strong; and the base things of this world, and the things despised hast Thou chosen, and those things which are not, that Thou mightest bring to nought things that are.
(Confessions of St Augustine, Book 8)

13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
(King James Bible, 1 Corinthians)

8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
(King James Bible, 2 Corinthians)

18:22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
(King James Bible, Luke)
14:13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14:14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
(King James Bible, Luke)

Thirdly, that we show them such honor also by works, that is, with our body and possessions, that we serve them, help them, and provide for them when they are old, sick, infirm, or poor, and all that not only gladly, but with humility and reverence, as doing it before God.
(Martin Luther, Large Catechism)

The spoil taken from the people of the towns and assigned by God to his
apostle, belongeth to God, and to the apostle, and to his kindred, and to the
orphan, and to the poor, and to the wayfarer, that none of it may circulate
among such of you only as are rich:
(The Qur’an (Rodwell tr), Sura 59 – The Emigration)

Just as the baby is satisfied by drinking milk, and the poor person is pleased by seeing wealth, and the thirsty person is refreshed by drinking cool water, so is this mind drenched with delight in the Lord. 2
(Shri Guru Granth Sahib, Section 6 – Raag Maajh)

Digging deep foundations, the walls are constructed, but in the end, the buildings return to heaps of dust. People gather and hoard their possessions, and give nothing to anyone else – the poor fools think that everything is theirs. Riches do not remain with anyone – not even the golden palaces of Sri Lanka.
(Shri Guru Granth Sahib, Section 7 – Raag Gauree)
Some enjoy enjoyments, O my Lord of the Universe, while others wander around naked, the poorest of the poor.
(Shri Guru Granth Sahib, Section 7 – Raag Gauree)

The bearded emperor who struck down the poor,
has been burnt in the fire by the Supreme Lord God. ||1||
The Creator administers true justice.
(Shri Guru Granth Sahib, Section 7 – Raag Gauree)

8
Yet have thou patience with a man in poor estate, and delay
not to shew him mercy.

9
Help the poor for the commandment’s sake, and turn him not
away because of his poverty.

10
Lose thy money for thy brother and thy friend, and let it not
rust under a stone to be lost.

Governance is referred to in the Bahá’í writings as an expression of trusteeship, as the administering of a trust. Bahá’u’lláh speaks of the governors and administrators of society as “trustees” or the “trusted ones” of God. He also warns leaders that the vulnerable and the poor “are the trust of God in your midst.” 4 The concept of trusteeship implies, in some sense, a covenant between those who are in positions of authority and the members of the social polity that they are obligated to protect and serve. Consequently, trustworthiness is a vital characteristic of governance; it is the source of true accountability. Bahá’u’lláh describes trustworthiness as the “greatest portal leading unto the tranquillity and security of the people,” and “the supreme instrument for the prosperity of the world.” 5 “All the domains of power,” He avers, “…are illumined by its light.” 6

While governance is often equated with government, it in fact involves much more. Governance occurs at all levels and encompasses the ways that formal government, non-governmental groups, community organizations and the private sector manage resources and affairs. Three factors that largely determine the efficacy of any system of governance are the quality of leadership, the characteristics of the governed, and the nature of the structures and processes employed to exercise authority and meet human needs.
(Baha’i International Community, 2001 May 28-31, Overcoming Corruption in Public Institutions)

“There are no solitaries and no hermits among the Bahá’ís. Man must work with his fellows. Everyone should have some trade, or art or profession, be he rich or poor, and with this he must serve humanity. This service is acceptable as the highest form of worship.”

Art
A painter asked: “Is art a worthy vocation?” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá turning to her impressively, said: “Art is worship.”

An actor mentioned the drama, and its influence. “The drama is of the utmost importance.” said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “It has been a great educational power in the past; it will be so again.” He described how as a young boy he witnessed the Mystery Play of Ali’s Betrayal and Passion, and how it affected him so deeply that he wept and could not sleep for many nights.
(Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 93)

Notes

According to Wikipedia

The Tablet of Wisdom (Persian: ﻟﻮﺡ ﺍﻟﺤﻜﻤﺔ‎) was addressed to Áqá Muḥammad, a distinguished believer from the town of Qá’in, who was surnamed Nabíl-i-Akbar. In the abjad notation the name ‘Muḥammad’ has the same numerical value as ‘Nabíl’. Bahá’u’lláh wrote the Tablet during his latter years in Akká and in the Tablet provides counsel regarding individual conduct, expounds the basic beliefs of some of the philosophers of ancient Greece, and writes about the fundamentals of true philosophy.

Notes

According to Cameron and Momen (1996:103) ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote the The Secret of Divine Civilization, a “treatise on the establishment of a just, progressive and divinely-based government” in 1875.

References

  • Bahá’u’lláh. “Lawh-i-Hikmat (Tablet of Wisdom).” Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1988. Pages: 269. (This Tablet was addressed to Áqá Muḥammad, a distinguished believer from the town of Qá’in, who was surnamed Nabíl-i-Akbar.)
  • ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. 1875. [1980] The Secret of Divine Civilization. US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990 pocket-size edition Pages: 116
  • Cameron, Glenn. Momen, Wendi. 1996. A Basic Baha’i Chronology. George Ronald. Paperback: 560 pages. ISBN-10: 0853984042. ISBN-13: 978-085398404. Review
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