At the outset, it has to be mentioned that, for the sake of simplicity, we are studying these Bahá’i Writings on economics briefly without going too deeply into their importance and implications. Volumes can be written on each of these Writings and each could be the subject of immense research. As time goes by we will realize their importance and how they can and will bring us towards a totally different economic system. Future economists will write books on how these Sacred Writings changed our spiritual, social and economic lives. So please bear in mind that the simplicity of the language and my feeble attempts to share my understanding of them does not do them justice. There are many Writings that could be mentioned here but I chose these on purpose because they cover many areas related to economics.
What makes the “divine economy” different from all the economic systems of the world is its approach to the source of the economic problems and their solutions. In this way, it differentiates itself from all the past and presents economic theories and thoughts.
“The secrets of the whole economic question are Divine in nature, and are concerned with the world of the heart and spirit. In the Baha’i Teachings this is most completely explained, and without the consideration of the Baha’i Teachings, it is impossible to bring about a better state.” – Abdu’l-Bahá, The Baha’i World, Volume 1V, p. 448
“… By the statement ‘the economic solution is Divine in nature’ is meant that religion alone can, in the last resort, bring in man’s nature such a fundamental change as to enable him to adjust the economic relationships of society. It is only in this way that man can control the economic forces that threaten to disrupt the foundations of his existence, and thus assert his mastery over the forces of nature.” – From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 26, 1935, Lights of Guidance, p.551
These Writings clearly explain the difference between the present economic system and the divine economy which will characterize the future for mankind. The assumption that the economists made in the past and are still making is that man must maximize his satisfaction. That is, he wants the best for himself and does not care for the interest or welfare of others. Basically man is depicted as a selfish person and the economic systems catered to this assumption. It is no surprise that it has led us to so many crises. But the Baha’i Writings explain that the whole question of economics is divine or spiritual in nature and that is a better foundation than selfishness or greediness. With this approach, man has a divine destiny and is not ruled just by man-made laws and regulations. It is fundamentally different because the Baha’i economic system is based on man’s heart; it is founded solidly on the human spirit.
BAHÁ’ I ECONOMIC SYSTEM
“There are practically no technical teachings on economics in the Cause, such as banking, the price system, and others. The Cause is not an economic system, nor can its Founders be considered as having been technical economists. The contribution of the Faith to this subject is essentially indirect, as it consists in the application of spiritual principles to our present-day economic system. Bahá’u’lláh has given us a few basic principles which should guide future Bahá’í economists in establishing such institutions which will adjust the economic relationships of the world.”-From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 25, 1936, Lights of Guidance, p. 551
We do not have a Baha’i economic system at this time because we do not have the spiritual requirements for such a system, a system which would be divine in nature. We do not have the spiritual maturity to imagine such a system. But there will be a world commonwealth and we know that future economists in consultation with the Universal House of Justice will bring this into being. We can only prepare for this system by developing our spiritual capacity and contributing by our actions towards laying a foundation for that system.