On Freedom of Conscience and Social Integration - A Baha'i Perspective


On Freedom of Conscience and Social Integration - A Baha'i Perspective
by alborz

The blogs over the past several past weeks has resulted in a series of discussions that have primarily been instigated by points and counter points.   While it may have provided entertainment for some, it has been a source of frustration for many.

In response to those that have repeatedly asked for Baha'i perspectives on the recent material posted, we must begin with the foundation of the recent exchanges.  Baha'i resources are presented here so that the readership can independently make their own determinations in this public forum.

At a time when religious oppression, fanaticism and clashes between differing systems of belief are straining modes of governance, frameworks of development, security, and human rights—we are pleased that the Commission for Social Development has focused on the theme of social integration. This theme, so central to the challenges at every level of society, has been described as the capacity of people to live together with dignity and respect, as well as a process of fostering stable and just societies, in which individuals and communities are free to shape their present and their future.

To the extent that efforts towards social integration will reflect the diverse voices and aspirations of the world’s people, governments will need to tackle one of the most challenging and neglected issues of our time—ensuring every individual’s freedom of conscience, religion or belief.

The human being is not only an economic and social creature, but also a noble one with a free will and a conscience that make possible the search for meaning and for truth. Without the freedom to pursue this fundamentally human quest, neither dignity nor justice is possible.

Indeed, there are no grounds for thinking that freedom of conscience, religion or belief is a Western value or concern. Nor should this freedom be seen as a luxury to be pursued only after basic needs for food and shelter have been met. Rather, it is central to efforts to restore human dignity and strengthen community life.

...the concept of the “defamation of religions,” which has distorted the international human rights framework and challenged human rights machinery, has selectively restricted the space for peaceful public exploration and debate of belief-related issues, so desperately needed in diverse and divided communities. Furthermore, the related issue of religious extremism, as a major obstacle to social integration and stability, has yet to be acknowledged by the United Nations.

... the current debate about religion in the public sphere has largely been driven by proponents of extremes—those who impose their religious ideology by force and those who deny any place for expressions of faith or belief in the public sphere. Yet neither extreme represents the views of the majority of humankind.

The freedom of conscience, religion or belief may well be the next frontier in the march towards social integration. With every successive moral battle—whether focused on slavery, apartheid, racism, discrimination against women, or nationalism—humanity has broken down barriers to social integration and raised yet another pillar of a more just global community.

The individual’s freedom of conscience, religion and belief is at the core of social development and of efforts to create a just and harmonious society. As such, the collective task of moving towards increasing levels of integration will require the recognition of not only the economic and social dimensions but also the spiritual and moral dimensions of human life. Before one can connect with others, one must be free to think, to know, and to believe.

The above excerpts are from a statement made by The Bahá'í International Community.



more from alborz

تقدیم به منوچهر عزیز،


از کلمات مکنونه حضرت بها‌الله


ای صاحبان هوش و گوش اوّل سروش دوست اينست *

(ای بلبل معنوی )  جز در گلبن معانی جای مگزين و ای هدهد سليمان عشق جز در سبای جانان وطن مگير و ای عنقای بقا جز در قاف وفامحلّ مپذير * اينست مکان تو اگر بلامکان بپر جان برپری و آهنگ مقام خود رايگان نمائی *

(ای پسر روح )  هر طيری را نظر بر آشيان است و هر بلبلی را مقصود جمال گل مگر طيور افئده عباد که بتراب فانی قانع شده از آشيان باقی دور مانده‌اندو بگِلهای بعد توجّه نموده از گلهای قرب محروم گشته‌اند * زهی حيرت و حسرت و افسوس و دريغ که بابريقی از امواج بحر رفيق اعلی گذشته‌اند و از افق ابهی دور مانده‌اند *

) ای دوست)  در روضه قلب جز گل عشق مکار و از ذيل بلبل حبّ و شوق دست مدار * مصاحبت ابرار را غنيمت دان و از مرافقت اشرار دست و دل هر دو بردار *

(ای پسر انصاف )  کدام عاشق كه جز در وطن معشوق محلّ گيرد و کدام طالب که بی مطلوب راحت جويد ؟ عاشق صادق را حيات در وصال است و موت در فراق * صدرشان از صبر خالی و قلوبشان از اصطبار مقدّس از صد هزار جان درگذرند و بکوی جانان شتابند *

(ای پسر خاک )  براستی ميگويم غافلترين عباد کسی است که در قول مجادله نمايد و بر برادر خود تفوّق جويد * بگو ای برادران باعمال خود را بيارائيد نه باقوال *



Manoucher Avaznia

To all who participated

by Manoucher Avaznia on

Wonderful interastions.  This is the reason that we are a vibrant searching people with open horizons ahead of us.  These interastions are our pride.




Thank you for the quotes below....

by alborz on

...as they foretold the consequences of the excesses that have been the foundation of the gravest challenges we face today.

In another words "true liberty" can only be achieved is when you can choose your desitnation and have high confidence that you will reach it in safety.  This is why we submit to traffic laws and their violation has a fine.  We are now in the midst of paying the heaviest fines in every aspect of human society as we know it.

The well being of humankind is now in jeopardy precisely because of the abandonment of moral principles.  No social laws combined with the power to enforce has been effective in averting the catastrophe that we face in every aspect of life.

The social convulsions that are raging across the planet, the greed and materialism that prevails can only be addressed if we ultimately accept that true liberty is found in restraint referenced below.

That which beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will protect him from his own ignorance, and guard him against the harm of mischief-maker. Liberty causeth man to overstep the bounds of propriety, and to infringe on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to the level of extreme depravity and wickedness.

At this juncture in time, spiritual and moral principles are the most referenced cause for the crises that human society faces in every aspect of its existance.   This is why "individual conscience", in its "individual" approach has meant that individuals have maximized their own benefits to the point that now entire societies are seeking a redress against such fickle and self rewarding "individual conscience" and are demanding broad "restraints" in the form of regulations to maximize the well being of entire societies and hopefully the world. Individual preferences will no doubt be moderated for the sake of a greater good.




by NUR on

 http://www.fglaysher.com/bahaicensorship/DMartin.htm "We have inherited a dangerous delusion from Christianity that our individual conscience is supreme. This is not a Baha'i belief. In the end, in the context of both our role in the community and our role in the  greater world, we must be prepared to sacrifice our personal convictions or opinions. The belief that individual conscience is supreme is equivalent to "taking partners with God" which is abhorrent to the Teachings of the Faith."  http://www.bahai-library.org/talks/martin.watson.html

[Comment and time of posting recorded in the event of deletion by the censor of this site]


freedom of conscience and social integration, Bahai perspective

by ab111 (not verified) on

Bahaullah's view on liberty:

Quotes from Aqdas, the holiest Bahai book:
122:Consider the pettiness of men's minds. They ask for that which injureth them, and cast away the thing that profiteth them. They are indeed of those that are far astray. We find some men desiring liberty and priding themselves therein. Such men are in the depths of ignorance.
123:Liberty must in the end lead to sedition whose flames none can quench.Thus warneth you He Who is the Reckoner, the All-Knowing. Know ye that the embodiment of liberty and its symbol is the animal.That which beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will protect him from his own ignorance, and guard him against the harm of mischief-maker. Liberty causeth man to overstep the bounds of propriety, and to infringe on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to the level of extreme depravity and wickedness.
124:Regard men as a flock of sheep that need a shepherd for their protection. This verily is truth, the certain truth.We approve of liberty in certain circumstances and refuse to sanction it in others...
125:Say:True liberty consisteth in man's submission unto My commandments, little as you know it...The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God,the Eternal Truth...