What is the purpose of religion? Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith, proclaimed: “The purpose of religion ... is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world,” and warned, “Make it not the cause of dissension and strife.”

The Baha’i Writings state:

“Religion should unite all hearts and cause wars and disputes to vanish from the face of the earth; it should give birth to spirituality, and bring light and life to every soul. If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division it would be better to be without it, and to withdraw from such a religion would be a truly religious act. For it is clear that the purpose of a remedy is to cure, but if the remedy only aggravates the complaint, it had better be left alone. Any religion which is not a cause of love and unity is no religion.”

The Baha’i Faith reaffirms the universal threads from all the Holy Books about unity, peace, love and fellowship. These excerpts from the book, “Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah,” focus on religion’s role to promote well-being and unity.

  • “The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship ...”
  • “The prophets of God should be regarded as physicians whose task is to foster the well-being of the world and its peoples, that, through the spirit of oneness, they may heal the sickness of a divided humanity ...”
  • “God’s purpose in sending His prophets is twofold. The first is to liberate the children of men from the darkness of ignorance, and guide them to light of true understanding. The second is to ensure the peace and tranquility of mankind, and provide all the means by which they can be established ...”
  • “We have, on the one hand, blotted out from the pages of God’s Holy Book whatsoever hath been the cause of strife, of malice, of mischief amongst the children of men, and have, on the other, laid down the essential prerequisites of concord, of understanding, of complete and enduring unity ...”
  • “The purpose underlying the revelation of every heavenly book, nay, of every divinely-revealed verse, is to endue all with righteousness and understanding, so that peace and tranquility may be firmly established ...”

Baha’u’llah referred to the prophets of God as “divine physicians” and urged us to be concerned about the needs of our time, saying:

“The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy. Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.”

With this world-embracing vision, Baha’is are called to be of service:

“The day of service is come ... Thou must show forth that which will ensure the peace and the well-being of the miserable and the down-trodden ... O people of God! Do not busy yourselves in your own concerns; let your thoughts be fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of humanity.”

Baha’u’llah reminds us: “Should the lamp of religion be obscured, chaos and confusion will ensue, and the lights of fairness and justice, of tranquility and peace cease to shine.” Let us all practice our religions in their true spirit so that the light of unity may shine.

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Marcia Berry is a member of the Carlisle Baha’i Community. Comments are welcome at carlislebahai@yahoo.com and visit at www.bahai.us