The Writings of
Vasu Murti


Animal Rights and Vegetarianism
in the Western Religious Traditions

Copyright 1995, 1999

Chapter 12

"Kindliness and Mercy"

The Baha段 faith began in 19th century Persia (Iran) as an offshoot of the Shi段te branch of Islam. Today, there are an estimated five million members of the Baha段 faith in some twenty thousand Baha段 communities in over 150 countries throughout the world. Regrettably, the Baha段 religion is now outlawed and persecuted as a heresy in the very country of its birth.

The founder of the Baha段 religion, Baha置値lah ("Glory of God," 1817-92), taught that all the world痴 religions should unite and that the human race are one people under God. Animals and the rest of creation are seen as part of the unity of the earth and the cosmos. Abdu値-Baha (1844-1921), Baha置値lah痴 eldest son and successor, indicated that although humans occupy a position in the universe that is "higher and nobler" than nature, and humans are "rulers over nature痴 sphere and province," nature is nonetheless to be given respect. According to Abdu値-Baha, "the Lord of all mankind hath fashioned this human realm to be a Garden of Eden, an earthly paradise."

Baha置値lah has been quoted as saying: "Not a single atom in the entire universe can be found which doth not declare the evidences of His might, which doth not glorify His holy name...So perfect and comprehensive is His creation that no mind nor heart, however keen or pure, can ever grasp the nature of the most insignificant of His creatures."

Compassion for animals is a fundamental tenet of the Baha段 faith. Baha置値lah called upon humanity to "show kindness to animals," and wrote: "Look not upon the creatures of God except with the eyes of kindliness and mercy, for Our loving providence hath pervaded all created things." Abdu値-Baha wrote that "tenderness and loving-kindness (to animals) are basic principles of God痴 heavenly kingdom.

"Briefly," explained, Abdu値-Baha, "it is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature. For in all physical respects, and where the animal spirit is concerned, the selfsame feelings are shared by animals and man...What difference is there when it cometh to physical sensations? The feelings are the same whether you inflict pain on man or beast. There is no difference here whatsoever.

"And indeed you do worse to harm an animal, for man hath a language, and he can lodge a complaint...But the hapless beast is mute, able neither to express its hurt nor take its case to the authorities...Therefore, it is essential that ye show forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and that ye be even kinder to him than to your fellow-man."

Abdu値-Baha also recognized the value of a humane education:

"Train your children from their earliest days to be infinitely tender and loving to animals. If an animal be sick, let the children try to heal it, if it be hungry, let them feed it, if thirsty, let them quench its thirst, if weary, let them see that it rests."

The Baha段 faith endorses vegetarianism. An article appearing in the American Baha段 concluded:

"Regarding the eating of animal flesh and abstinence therefrom...he (man) is not in need of meat, nor is he obliged to eat it. Even without eating meat, he would live with the utmost vigor and energy...Truly, the killing of animals and the eating of their meat is somewhat contrary to pity and compassion, and if one can content oneself with cereals, fruits, oil and nuts, such as pistachios, almonds and so on, it would undoubtedly be better and more pleasing."

An article entitled "Conservation of the Earth痴 Resources," appeared in the "Baha段 National Review" in the January 1990 issue of the American Baha段. Respect for nature is part of the Baha段 faith:

"Nature is held in high regard. Baha置値lah states that the contemplation of nature creates an awareness of the 壮igns and 奏okens of God and constitutes proof of His existence.

"...Every time I lift mine eyes unto Thy heaven, I call to mind Thine incomparable glory and greatness; and every time I turn my gaze to Thine earth, I am made to recognize the evidences of Thy power and the tokens of Thy bounty.

"And when I behold the sea, I find that it speaketh to me of Thy majesty, and of the potency of Thy might, and of Thy sovereignty and Thy grandeur. And at whatever time I contemplate the mountains, I am led to discover the ensigns of Thy victory and the standards of Thine omnipotence.

"Nature reflects the 創ames and attributes of God. It is the expression of 賎od痴 contingent world.
Baha置値lah writes: 鮮ature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise."

Robert A. White, in an article for the Journal of Baha段 Studies, entitled, "Spiritual Foundations for an Ecologically Stable Society," concluded:

"An attitude an awe and gratitude towards the earth is part of attaining spiritual humility...the soul is refreshed and revitalized by contact with the beauty, mystery, and grandeur of nature." The Baha段 faith espouses a reverence for all life.

Go on to Chapter 13 - "No Bloodshed or Slaughter"
Return to Table of Contents

THEY SHALL NOT HURT OR DESTROY is available in print copy from Vegetarian Advocates Press, PO Box 201791, Cleveland, OH 44120, at a cost of $15.00 US per book including shipping and handling.

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