Advancement of Civilization

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Douglas McAdam

Oct 11, 2009, 11:03:48 PM10/11/09
Dear Mike3, Suzanne, Mike and anyone who is tuned in.  

I have been researching the Baha'i Writings for quotes relevant to the following proposition -

>  Man's  civilizations are caused and advanced by reactions to revelations from God both  
> indirectly and directly.  These Revelations come to us through His Manifestations.

I would appreciate some discussion on this and producing quotes would be of help.


Brent Poirier

Nov 26, 2009, 10:37:25 PM11/26/09

25 July 1949
There are no quotations from the Qur'án to support the Master's
statement that European thinkers acknowledge the influence of Islam in
shaping the thought of Europe. In the "Gleanings", page 95 (third
printing Jan. 1943) Bahá'u'lláh says: -- "Of old it has been revealed:
Love of one's country is an element of the Faith of God!" Here
Bahá'u'lláh is quoting not the Qur'án but an Islamic tradition, and i
is this statement which the Guardian has used as the basis of his
argument in the "Promised Day" that nationhood grew out of the direct
influence of Muhammad's teachings, and was one of the great
contributions to mankind's evolution of Islam. The building up of
nations came after Muhammad, and was a step forward in the direction
of a unified world which the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh has provided
(Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i
Community, p. 456)

Regarding your questions: it is not the City State, but the National
State which Muhammad's teachings fostered. Christ had nothing to do
with the City State concept in any direct manner.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i
Community, p. 456)

1664. Muhammad's Teachings Heightened and Guarded the Cause of Human
"Shoghi Effendi hopes that your lectures will not only serve to deepen
the knowledge of the believers in the doctrines and culture and
culture of Islam, but will set their hearts afire with the love of
everything that vitally pertains to Muhammad and His Faith.
"There is so much misunderstanding about Islam in the West in general
that you have to dispel. Your task is rather difficult and requires a
good deal of erudition. Your chief task is to acquaint the friends
with the pure teaching of the Prophet as recorded in the Qur'án, and
then to point out how these teachings have, throughout succeeding
ages, influenced nay guided the course of human development. In other
words you have to show the position and significance of Islam in the
history of civilization.
"The Bahá'í view on that subject is that the Dispensation of Muhammad,
like all other Divine Dispensations, has been fore-ordained, and that
as such forms and integral part of the Divine Plan for the spiritual,
moral and social, development of mankind, It is not an isolated
religious phenomenon, but is closely and historically related to the
Dispensation of Christ, and those of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. It was
intended by God to succeed Christianity, and it was therefore the duty
of the Christians to accept it as firmly as they had adhered to the
religion of Christ.
"You should also cautiously emphasize the truth that due to the
historical order of its appearance, and also because of the obviously
more advanced character of its teachings, Islam constitutes a fuller
revelation of God's purpose for mankind. The so-called Christian
civilization of which the Renaissance is one of the most striking
manifestations is essentially Muslim in its origins and foundations.
When medieval Europe was plunged in darkest barbarism, the Arabs
regenerated and transformed by the spirit released by the religion of
Muhammad were busily engaged in establishing a civilization the kind
of which their contemporary Christians in Europe had never witnessed
before. It was eventually through Arabs that civilization was
introduced to the West. It was through them that the philosophy,
science and culture which the old Greeks had developed found their way
to Europe. The Arabs were the ablest translators, and linguists of
their age, and it is thanks to them that the writings of such well-
known thinkers as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were made available to
the Westerners. It is wholly unfair to attribute the efflorescence of
European culture during the Renaissance period to the influence of
Christianity. It was mainly the product of the forces released by the
Muhammadan Dispensation.
"From the standpoint of institutionalism Islam far surpasses true
Christianity as we know it in the Gospels. There are infinitely more
laws and institutions in the Qur'án than in the Gospel. While the
latter's emphasis is mainly, not to say wholly, on individual and
personal conduct, the Qur'án stresses the importance of society. This
social emphasis acquires added importance and significance in the
Bahá'í Revelation. When carefully and impartially compared, the Qur'á
marks a definite advancement on the Gospel, from the standpoint of
spiritual and humanitarian progress.
"The truth is that Western historians have for many centuries
distorted the facts to suit their religious and ancestral prejudices.
The Bahá'ís should try to study history anew, and to base all their
investigations first and foremost on the written Scriptures of Islam
and Christianity."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual
believer, April 27, 1936)
(Lights of Guidance, p. 495)

"The Prophets of God are the first Educators. They bestow universal
education upon man and cause him to rise from the lowest levels of
savagery to the highest pinnacles of spiritual development. The
philosophers, too, are educators along lines of intellectual training.
At most, they have only been able to educate themselves and a limited
number about them, to improve their own morals and, so to speak,
civilize themselves; but they have been incapable of universal
education. They have failed to cause an advancement for any given
nation from savagery to civilization.
"It is evident that although education improves the morals of mankind,
confers the advantages of civilization and elevates man from lowest
degrees to the station of sublimity, there is, nevertheless, a
difference in the intrinsic or natal capacity of individuals. Ten
children of the same age, with equal station of birth, taught in the
same school, partaking of the same food, in all respects subject to
the same environment, their interests equal and in common, will
evidence separate and distinct degrees of capability and advancement;
some will be exceedingly intelligent and progressive, some of mediocre
ability, others limited and incapable. One may become a learned
professor, while another under the same course of education proves
dull and stupid. From all standpoints the opportunities have been
equal, but the results and outcomes vary from the highest to lowest
degree of advancement. It is evident, therefore, that mankind differs
in natal capacity and intrinsic intellectual endowment. Nevertheless,
although capacities are not the same, every member of the human race
is capable of education.
"Jesus Christ was an Educator of humanity. His teachings were
altruistic; His bestowal, universal. He taught mankind by the power of
the Holy Spirit and not through human agency, for the human power is
limited, whereas the divine power is illimitable and infinite. The
influence and accomplishment of Christ will attest this. Galen, the
Greek physician and philosopher who lived in the second century A.D.,
wrote a treatise upon the civilization of nations. He was not a
Christian, but he bore testimony that religious beliefs exercise an
extraordinary effect upon the problems of civilization. In substance
he said, "There are certain people among us, followers of Jesus, the
Nazarene, who was killed in Jerusalem. These people are truly imbued
with moral principles which are the envy of philosophers. They believe
in God and fear Him. They have hopes in His favors; therefore, they
shun all unworthy deeds and actions and incline to praiseworthy ethics
and morals. Day and night they strive that their deeds may be
commendable and that they may contribute to the welfare of humanity;
therefore, each one of them is virtually a philosopher, for these
people have attained unto that which is the essence and purport of
philosophy.  These people have praiseworthy morals, even though they
may be illiterate."
"The purpose of this is to show that the holy Manifestations of God,
the divine Prophets, are the first Teachers of the human race. They
are universal Educators, and the fundamental principles they have laid
down are the causes and factors of the advancement of nations. Forms
and imitations which creep in afterward are not conducive to that
progress. On the contrary, these are destroyers of human foundations
established by the heavenly Educators. These are clouds which obscure
the Sun of Reality. If you reflect upon the essential teachings of
Jesus, you will realize that they are the light of the world. Nobody
can question their truth. They are the very source of life and the
cause of happiness to the human race. The forms and superstitions
which appeared and obscured the light did not affect the reality of
Christ. For example, Jesus Christ said, "Put up thy sword into the
sheath." The meaning is that warfare is forbidden and abrogated; but
consider the Christian wars which took place afterward. Christian
hostility and inquisition spared not even the learned; he who
proclaimed the revolution of the earth was imprisoned; he who
announced the new astronomical system was persecuted as a heretic;
scholars and scientists became objects of fanatical hatred, and many
were killed and tortured. How do these actions conform with the
teachings of Jesus Christ, and what relation do they bear to His own
example? For Christ declared, "Love your enemies, ... and pray for
them which ... persecute you; that you may be the children of your
Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil
and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." How
can hatred, hostility and persecution be reconciled with Christ and
His teachings?
"Therefore, there is need of turning back to the original foundation.
The fundamental principles of the Prophets are correct and true. The
imitations and superstitions which have crept in are at wide variance
with the original precepts and commands. Bahá'u'lláh has revoiced and
reestablished the quintessence of the teachings of all the Prophets,
setting aside the accessories and purifying religion from human
interpretation. He has written a book entitled the Hidden Words. The
preface announces that it contains the essences of the words of the
Prophets of the past, clothed in the garment of brevity, for the
teaching and spiritual guidance of the people of the world. Read it
that you may understand the true foundations of religion and reflect
upon the inspiration of the Messengers of God. It is light upon
"We must not look for truth in the deeds and actions of nations; we
must investigate truth at its divine source and summon all mankind to
unity in reality itself."
(Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 84)

Also see Abdu'l-Baha's address to the Jewish people

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