COMPILATION ON AGRICULTURE
This compilation gathers a small selection of references to
and the environment in the Bahá'í Writings.
(see also compilation: Conservation of the Earth's Resources)
In addition to the problem of how to ensure peace, and all the
implications of such a step, it is clear that the economic and social
development of all countries is of vital importance and is a matter on
which the Teachings have much to say in principle if not in detail. In
this area, agriculture and the preservation of the ecological
balance of the world are of fundamental interest....
(Universal House of Justice, 31 March 1985 to an Association for Bahá'í Studies)
In surveying the vast range of creation thou shalt perceive that the
higher a kingdom of created things is on the arc of ascent, the more
conspicuous are the signs and evidences of the truth that co-operation and
reciprocity at the level of a higher order are greater than those that
exist at the level of a lower order. For example the evident signs of this
fundamental reality are more discernible in the vegetable kingdom than in
the mineral, and still more manifest in the animal world than in the
('Abdu'l-Bahá, extract from an untranslated tablet)
...all beings are connected together like a chain; and reciprocal help,
assistance and interaction belonging to the properties of things are the
causes of the existence, development and growth of created beings.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 178-179)
...all the members of the human family, whether peoples or governments,
cities or villages, have become increasingly interdependent. For none is
self-sufficiency any longer possible, inasmuch as political ties unite all
peoples and nations, and the bonds of trade and industry, of agriculture
and education, are being strengthened every day. Hence the unity of all
mankind can in this day be achieved.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 15, p. 32)
The country is the world of the soul, the city is the world of bodies.
(Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in J. E. Esslemont, Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, Chpt. 3)
The civilization, so often vaunted by the learned exponents of arts and
sciences, will, if allowed to overleap the bounds of moderation, bring
great evil upon men.... If carried to excess, civilization will prove as
prolific a source of evil as it had been of goodness when kept within the
restraints of moderation.... The day is approaching when its flame will
devour the cities...
(Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í World Faith, p. 138-139)
And among the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh is that although material
civilization is one of the means for the progress of the world of mankind,
yet until it becomes combined with Divine civilization, the desired
result, which is the felicity of mankind, will not be attained....
Material civilization is like the body. No matter how infinitely graceful,
elegant and beautiful it may be, it is dead. Divine civilization is like
the spirit, and the body gets its life from the spirit, otherwise it
becomes a corpse. It has thus been made evident that the world of mankind
is in need of the breaths of the Holy Spirit. Without the spirit the world
of mankind is lifeless, and without this light the world of mankind is in
utter darkness. For the world of nature is an animal world. Until man is
born again from the world of nature, that is to say, becomes detached from
the world of nature, he is essentially an animal, and it is the teachings
of God which convert this animal into a human soul.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 227, pp. 303-304)
Wealth is praiseworthy in the highest degree, if it is acquired by an
individual's own efforts and the grace of God, in commerce, agriculture,
art and industry, and if it be expended for philanthropic purposes. Above
all, if a judicious and resourceful individual should initiate measures
which would universally enrich the masses of the people, there could be no
undertaking greater than this, and it would rank in the sight of God as
the supreme achievement, for such a benefactor would supply the needs and
insure the comfort and well-being of a great multitude. Wealth is most
commendable, provided the entire population is wealthy.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 24)
The fundamental basis of the community is agriculture, tillage of
the soil. All must be producers. Each person in the community whose income
is equal to his individual producing capacity shall be exempt from
taxation. But if his income is greater than his needs he must pay a tax
until an adjustment is effected. That is to say, a man's capacity for
production and his needs will be equalized and reconciled through
taxation. If his production exceeds he will pay no tax; if his necessities
exceed his production he shall receive an amount sufficient to equalize or
adjust. Therefore taxation will be proportionate to capacity and
production and there will be no poor in the community.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 37)
Bahá'í Scriptures describe nature as a reflection of the sacred. They teach that nature should be valued and respected, but not worshipped; rather, it should serve humanity's efforts to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. However, in light of the interdependence of all parts of nature, and the importance of evolution and diversity "to the beauty, efficiency and perfection of the whole," every effort should be made to preserve as much as possible the earth's bio-diversity and natural order.
As trustees, or stewards, of the planet's vast resources and biological
diversity, humanity must learn to make use of the earth's natural
resources, both renewable and non-renewable, in a manner that ensures
sustainability and equity into the distant reaches of time. This attitude
of stewardship will require full consideration of the potential
environmental consequences of all development activities. It will compel
humanity to temper its actions with moderation and humility, realizing
that the true value of nature cannot be expressed in economic terms. It
will also require a deep understanding of the natural world and its role
in humanity's collective development both material and spiritual.
Therefore, sustainable environmental management must come to be seen not
as a discretionary commitment mankind can weigh against other competing
interests, but rather as a fundamental responsibility that must be
shouldered a pre-requisite for spiritual development as well as the
individual's physical survival.
(Bahá'í International Community. 1998. Valuing Spirituality in Development: Initial Considerations Regarding the Creation of Spiritually Based Indicators for Development. A concept paper written for the World Faiths and Development Dialogue, Lambeth Palace, London, 18-19 February 1998. Bahá'í Publishing Trust, London)
International Environment Forum - Updated 24 November 2004