What Are the Sacred Scriptures of the Bahá’í Faith?
The flowers fade, but the word of our God endures for evermore. Isaiah 40:8
Never before has such an abundance of Scriptures been entrusted to humankind. Because of the greatness of this day, the Word of God has poured forth like a torrent.
For the first time in religious history, we have reliable evidence of how the Word of God is revealed. Several independent observers have testified that sometimes the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh spoke the divine Words with such speed that no one could write them down. The Book of Certitude (257 pages), which resolves the mysteries of past Scriptures, was written by Bahá’u’lláh within the span of only two days.
Authors make corrections, change their minds, modify their styles, and mature with time. Like a candle’s flame before the wind, their thoughts flicker and flutter, and die with little impact on their surroundings.
The Word of God radiates like the sun with unmatched splendor, beauty, and perfection to the farthest reaches of the earth. It is the source of the spiritual life of the world. The winds and whims of time can never touch it.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalms 119:105
Kahlil Gibran, the famous author from Lebanon, whose book The Prophet has been hailed as a classic, made this statement about Bahá’u’lláh’s Arabic works, a language Bahá’u’lláh did not study:
He [Kahlil Gibran] said it was the most stupendous literature that ever was written, and that He even coined words. That there was no Arabic that even touched the Arabic of Bahá’u’lláh.
In the Bahá’í archives are treasured more than 15,000 Tablets or Epistles written by Bahá’u’lláh to His disciples. If we assume that each of those Epistles is an average of three pages long, we have a total of about 45,000 pages. If 450 pages are put in each volume, we end up with 100 volumes. Each of those 15,000 Epistles reveals a glimpse of God’s glory, perfection, and power. Each of those Epistles expresses His unwavering and unfailing love for humanity. And each of them manifests unparalleled authority, beauty, and majesty.
Those who witnessed the revelation of these sacred writings have testified that they were spoken as fast as they could be recorded. Secretaries could hardly keep up with the speed with which the words were uttered. What is even more astonishing is that they required no correction, modification, or change of any kind.
All sacred Scriptures testify to the supreme station of the Word of God:
The words which I have spoken to you are both spirit and life. Christ (John 6:63)
And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. Psalms 18:30
He, the divine King, hath proclaimed the undisputed supremacy of the verses of His Book over all things that testify to His truth. For compared with all other proofs and tokens, the divinely-revealed verses shine as the sun, whilst all others are as stars. To the peoples of the world they are the abiding testimony, the incontrovertible proof, the shining light of the ideal King. Their excellence is unrivaled, their virtue nothing can surpass. They are the treasury of the divine pearls and the depository of the divine mysteries. -Bahá’u’lláh
Indeed these manifest verses are conclusive testimony for those who seek true guidance. -The Báb
Certainly God’s way of thinking and speaking must be distinct from ours— as distinct and exalted as the heavens are from the earth:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
Whenever you examine the Writings of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, remember that they were spoken as quickly as the secretaries could record. No human being, other than the One endowed and inspired by God, can claim such distinction. The most talented, seasoned, and skillful authors cannot produce, spontaneously and without pause, even as much as one page that would come close, in beauty and novelty, to the works of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh—neither of whom had any education. When we add the dimension of meaning to the dimension of language, we get peerless pearls of celestial perfection.
The Word of God, spoken through His great Messengers, is the mightiest miracle. It is not like a meteor that flashes forth and dies in the moments of history. It is a celestial magic that endures for all generations. It is as bright and enduring as the sun, as ever-present as the universe itself. No evidence, no proof can ever compare with it.
It seems God puts most or all of His miracles in His Word. Consider the Báb. He began His ministry at the age of 25. He had hardly any education. As far as we know, He did not even finish elementary school. His teacher sent Him home, saying that the child knew much more than he did. Imagine a young man, raised in an extremely regressive and repressive culture, who arises with the most incredible news and reveals Scriptures as fast as anyone can write, in the most magnificent and exquisite style, in a language other than His mother tongue—one that He has never studied! What greater miracle does anyone need? This is an ever-present wonder that we can witness any time we wish. This is the evidence God wants us to depend on.
How could the Israelites endure so much pain in the desert? What gave them the strength and courage was the “manna,” the food from heaven. That food symbolized the Word of God. (See John 6:30-58.)
To observe brevity, only a few brief selections from the vast vineyard of Bahá’í sacred works are offered here. It is essential for every seeker of truth to devote much time to the study of those sources.
The Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also wrote extensively. Their works also constitute part of Bahá’í sacred Scriptures. Here are a few references in English:
Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys
The Book of Certitude
Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh
The Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh
Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh
By the Báb
Selections from the Writings of the Báb
Some Answered Questions
Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
The Secret of Divine Civilization
The Promulgation of Universal Peace
The following quotations, selected by Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, from Bahá’í Scriptures, are inscribed over the alcoves and entrances to the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. Each of them is like a facet of diamond harvested from the vast mountains of celestial jewels. As you read, ponder in your heart the meaning of each jewel:
All the prophets of God proclaim the same faith.
Religion is a radiant light and an impregnable stronghold.
Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.
So powerful is unity’s light that it can illumine the whole earth.
Consort with the followers of all religions with friendliness.
O Son of Being! Thou art My lamp and My light is in thee.
O Son of Being! Walk in My statutes for love of Me.
Thy Paradise is My love; thy heavenly home reunion with Me.
The light of a good character surpasseth the light of the sun.
The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.
The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me.
My love is My stronghold; he that entereth therein is safe and secure.
Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner.
Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent.
I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve?
Make mention of Me on My earth, that in My heaven I may remember thee.
O rich ones on earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust
The source of all learning is the knowledge of God, exalted be His Glory.
The Scriptures of a religion are its very heart and soul. They come not from human beings, but from the heart of heaven. They are the hallmark of God’s Messengers, the most evident sign of their greatness. Anyone interested in knowing Bahá’u’lláh should study His writings diligently. He invites the seekers of truth again and again to test Him by His works—by the heavenly fruits He bears. As Christ declared, a tree must be judged by its fruits. If the fruits are good, the tree must be good.
Love is the greatest law in the universe. It is the light of the world. Here are a few fruits from the vineyard of Bahá’u’lláh’s and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s works on love:
Love is the source of all the bestowals of God. Until love takes possession of the heart, no other divine bounty can be revealed in it. -‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Order your lives in accordance with the first principle of divine teaching, which is love. -‘Abdu’l-Bahá
In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love. -Bahá’u’lláh
To every human being must ye be infinitely kind. -‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Look not upon the creatures of God except with the eye of kindliness and mercy, for Our loving providence hath pervaded all created things, and Our grace encompasseth the earth and the heavens. -Bahá’u’lláh
You must have infinite love for each other, each preferring the other before himself. -‘Abdu’l-Bahá
You must love your friend better than yourself; yes, be willing to sacrifice yourself...I desire that you be ready to sacrifice everything for each other, even life itself. -‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Blessed is he who prefers his brother before himself. -Bahá’u’lláh
A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. -‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Think ye of love and good fellowship as the delights of heaven, think ye of hostility and hatred as the torments of hell. -‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Love the creatures for the sake of God and not for themselves. You will never become angry or impatient if you love them for the sake of God. -‘Abdu’l-Bahá
When a man turns his face to God he finds sunshine everywhere...Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving-kindness for all who may cross your path. -‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Let them at all times concern themselves with doing a kindly thing for one of their fellows, offering to someone love, consideration, thoughtful help. Let them see no one as their enemy, or as wishing them ill, but think of all humankind as their friends; regarding the alien as an intimate, the stranger as a companion, staying free of prejudice, drawing no lines. -‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Ye were created to show love one to another and not perversity and rancor. Take pride not in love for yourselves but in love for your fellow-creatures. Glory not in love for your country, but in love for all mankind. -Bahá’u’lláh
Love, in its fullness and purity, is the mother of all virtues. It is the power that gives birth to everything good and noble. It is the very purpose of human life.
Love, in its fullness, means seeking and embracing truth and goodness. Everything true is good, and everything good is true. God is truth and goodness. Love is truth and goodness. A person who loves truth and goodness understands that:
There exists a just and caring God who must be known, loved, and glorified for His greatness
Justice is better than cruelty
Honesty excels dishonesty
Knowledge is superior to ignorance
Wisdom transcends folly
Doing is nobler than simply sitting and dreaming.
Therefore “love is the great secret.” When we have true love, we discover and live by truth and goodness; we have attained the purpose for which the universe came into being.
We love to see you at all times consorting in amity and concord...We shall always be with you; if We inhale the perfume of your fellowship, Our heart will assuredly rejoice, for naught else can satisfy Us. -Bahá’u’lláh
Let us conclude this section with two quotations on virtues, one by Christ, the other by Bahá’u’lláh:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. -Christ (Matt. 5:3-10)
Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility. -Bahá’u’lláh