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 extensive 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. Many Writings could be mentioned here, but I chose these on purpose because they cover many areas related to economics.
WOMEN’S EQUAL RIGHTS
“… there must be an equality of rights between men and women. Women shall receive an equal privilege of education. This will enable them to qualify and progress in all degrees of occupation and accomplishment. For the world of humanity possesses two wings: man and woman. If one wing remains incapable and defective, it will restrict the power of the other, and full flight will be impossible. Therefore, the completeness and perfection of the human world is dependent upon the equal development of these two wings.”. – Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 318
It is sad to observe that still mankind is flying with one wing and great talents and human qualities have deprived the world. In many societies in the world women are not even allowed to work so that a section of society is not contributing to the economy, the welfare, the happiness, and quality of life. A whole society loses out in this scenario. Imagine when man and woman are equal in rights and are able to work together to create prosperity and happiness in the world.
“ … In the Teachings of Baha’u’llah benevolence (is enjoined) and this is greater than equality. Equality is attained through force, but benevolence is a voluntary act (or is a matter of choice). Man’s perfection is achieved through good deeds done voluntarily, not by good deeds done through compulsion, and benevolence is a good deed performed voluntarily. That means that the rich should be benevolent towards the poor – that is, give to the poor, but by their own free will and desire – not that the poor should compel the rich to do so. For compulsion breeds discord, and disrupts the order in human affairs. For benevolence, which is voluntary benefaction, engenders peacefulness in the world of humanity, and it brings illumination to the realm of man.” – Abdu’l-Bahá, World Order Magazine, January 1949
In recent years some multi-billionaires have begun donating most of their money to charitable organizations. This is benevolence. This is the sign of the new race of men, defined by man reaching such a spiritual understanding that he finds pleasure and happiness in giving away his earnings rather than hoarding them for himself. This is the stage that mankind has to reach, wherein everyone realizes that money is a tool, not the goal of his life, and that he can use this tool to make a difference and to make life easier for others. That realization is a sign of spiritual maturity. Benevolence is not just for the rich; it is a sense of giving that anyone can practice regardless of their material status.
“We ask God to endow human souls with justice so that they may be fair, and may strive to provide for the comfort of all, that each member of humanity may pass his life in the utmost comfort and welfare. Then this material world will become the very paradise of the Kingdom, this
elemental earth will be in a heavenly state and all the servants of God will live in the utmost joy, happiness and gladness.” – Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundation of World Unity, p.43
“Among the results of the manifestation of spiritual forces will be that the human world will adapt itself to a new social form, the Justice of God will become manifest throughout human affairs, and human equality will be universally established.
The essence of the matter is divine justice will become manifest in human conditions and affairs, and all mankind will find comfort and enjoyment in life.” – Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p.132
The kingdom of God on earth will be realized when injustice has been eradicated. Everyone is at the moment fighting for some kind of justice, either racial, political, economic or sexual, and this is the beginning. It will be a long journey for mankind to reach the point of understanding that justice is essential for all aspects of life.