February 10, 2019

Question: If all souls' thoughts were entirely given to holy thoughts of God, what would become of the world from a commercial standpoint? – Answer by Mirza ‘Abu’l-Fadl

circa 1902: Mirza Abu'l-Fadl (center)
with some early Western believers

Love, faith and being filled with the will of God are not contradictory to the temporal affairs that man has to attend to -- that is, we can be filled with the love of God and at the same time look after our worldly life and pursuits which are necessary to guarantee our social welfare and prosperity, etc. -- though in the beginning it is difficult for us to realize this state in ourselves, yet this can become feasible and practical, if we obey the laws and ordinances of God.

For instance, consider David: While he was attentive and watchful over his temporal affairs and worldly dominion to such an extent that he looked after each one of his soldiers, computed their number, arranged their sustenance and means of living, and while he was so alert in arranging administrative affairs that he was not at all heedless of the neighboring kings and their thoughts -- even through outward means -- even in such wise that through warfare and battles he strengthened that weak kingdom of the Israelites and glorified his people before the eyes of the great kings of Egypt and Assyria -- nevertheless, could it be thought that he was meanwhile separated from the love of God? Or could it be said he was so carried away by temporal occupations and cares as to make him heedless of the commemoration of God? And could we and you, as some people, bring ourselves to believe that David did sin?

Likewise, consider His Holiness Abraham: He was a man who led a nomadic life, and possessed large herds and flocks in the desert, and he gained his living by rearing sheep and cattle. He was so watchful and attentive in the administration of the affairs pertaining to temporal pursuits that nothing escaped his notice. Although when single and alone, he migrated from the Ur of the Chaldeans, he exercised the utmost care in his worldly affairs, and thus became accounted among the highest men of affluence in Syrian lands; and notwithstanding he contributed personal watchfulness and attention over every single sheep in case of sickness, yet he was not for a single moment heedless of the commemoration of God; so much so, that among all the inhabitants of the world, at that time, he alone was chosen by God as His friend.

Consequently, we and you must likewise exert ourselves, in order to reach such a point in the love of God that the world and its occupations, no matter how involving they may be, may not prevent us from the praise of God, nor make us heedless of His commemoration.

Muhammed, the Prophet, has said: "Man in this world must be so attentive to his worldly affairs and temporal necessary pursuits, that it may seem as though he thinks he is going to live forever in this world, and he must, at the same time, be so submerged in the love of God and occupied with the thoughts of the hereafter, that it may seem as though he is going to die and leave this earth at the very moment."

Moreover, one of the great elements in the laws of every religion, deals with the rules concerning the orderly arrangement and preservation of human society. One of their solid commands is this: That man should be engaged in a trade or profession, and should by this means be a cause of tranquility and peace to others.

Baha’u’llah has so emphatically laid down rules concerning the orderly management of mercantile pursuits and professions that He has accounted occupation in such professions as an act of worship on the part of a believer - - that is, according to Baha’u’llah, to be engaged in an honorable art, trade or profession, by which ourselves and humanity can be benefited, is an act of worship.

O my dear sister: Endeavor that man may reach such a point that nothing of this world can prevent him from the love of God, to such an extent that if he goes to sleep, he may have God in his thoughts; if he engages in trade or temporal occupation, he may do it for the purpose of benefiting his fellowmen; and if he walks, he may walk to perform that which is best for the people of the world, and that the more he increases in spirituality, the more he may learn about the well management of his affairs. Man must love the world and all the people therein for the sake of its Maker. Even as the Persian poet sung six hundred years ago:

"In this world I am rejoiced over the One,
Through Whom the world is rejoiced;
I am in love with all the people of the world,
For all the world belongs to Him."

For a believer, even his worldly and professional pursuit is an act of worship; for an unbeliever, even his activity in the acts of worship is no other than entire occupation with the world and worldly things. This you have realized in the church, and in the spirit in which many in the church performed their acts of worship. 
(Star of the West, vol. 7, o. 2, April 9, 1916)