The Oneness of Religions

Perhaps the most distinctive concept in the Bahá’í Faith is the oneness of religions. This is the principle that clearly provokes thought and awes any audience. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá introduced this concept at almost every public meeting at which He spoke during His travels in Europe and also in America in 1912.

On this day, October 7, in 1912, He gave an extensive talk regarding the oneness of religions to the Japanese Young Men’s Association in Oakland, California – a talk arranged by the Japanese Bahá’í Kanichi Yamamoto, known simply as Moto, who yearned to serve ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and to help facilitate meetings where others could hear ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the message of Bahá’u’lláh.

The president of the association began the meeting by reading a scripture in Japanese. This was followed by the singing of “Nearer My God to Thee”, also in Japanese. Mr. Kanno, a Japanese poet and philosopher, then gave a short talk which he concluded with a poem dedicated  to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk was in Persian, which was translated into English, which the Rev. Kazahira retranslated into Japanese.

In His talk, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá logically outlined several topics within the concept of the oneness of religions. He said that while there are many bonds between people that are inspired through different commonalities such as nationality, race or politics, ultimately there is a higher bond uniting all and that is religion. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:

The bonds which hold together the body politic are not sufficient. These bonds may be mentioned—for instance, the bond of patriotism. This is evidently not a sufficient bond, for how often it happens that people of the same nation wage civil war amongst themselves. The bond of fellowship may be racial, but history proves this is not sufficiently strong, for tremendous wars have broken out between peoples of the same racial lineage. Again, the bond holding men together may be political. How often it happens that the diplomacy of nations makes a treaty of peace one day and on the morrow a declaration of war! It is historically evident and manifest that these bonds are not self-sufficient.  

The real bond of integrity is religious in character, for religion indicates the oneness of the world of humanity. Religion serves the world of morality. Religion purifies the hearts. Religion impels men to achieve praiseworthy deeds. Religion becomes the cause of love in human hearts, for religion is a divine foundation, the foundation ever conducive to life. The teachings of God are the source of illumination to the people of the world. Religion is ever constructive, not destructive.

He urged that all should set aside blind imitations and investigate, “We must abandon the imitations of ancestors and forefathers. We ourselves must investigate reality and be fair in judgment.”

The group was extremely receptive to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk and some were said to have followed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to His other talks during His visit in the area.

As He left the meeting, mothers in the audience held out their babies which He blessed saying, “Good baby; Japanese baby.”

The next morning Mahmud wrote in his diary that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was pleased about His visit with the association the previous evening and their receptivity to Bahá’u’lláh’s message.

 

Sources:

http://www.thejourneywest.org/

http://centenary.bahai.us/

Promulgation of Universal Peace

Mahmud’s Diary

Photo by Kat Eghdamian, www.nineteenmonths.com

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