COMPILATION ON ANIMALS
This compilation gathers a selection of references to animals in the
including the ways these are referred to both symbolically and literally.
Approach to animals
Place of animals in the creation
Distinction between animals and humans
Need for man to rise above the animal state
Animals as symbols or metaphors
Unless ye must,
Bruise not the serpent in the dust,
How much less wound a man.
And if ye can,
No ant should ye alarm,
Much less a brother harm.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, page 256)
APPROACH TO ANIMALS
Burden not an animal with more than it can bear. We, truly, have
prohibited such treatment through a most binding interdiction in the Book.
Be ye the embodiments of justice and fairness amidst all creation.
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, paragraph 187 , page 87)
He should show kindness to animals, how much more unto his fellow-man, to
him who is endowed with the power of utterance.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings, page 265, and The Kitab-i-Iqan, page 194)
Briefly, it is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature. For in all physical respects, and where the animal spirit is concerned, the selfsame feelings are shared by animal and man. Man hath not grasped this truth, however, and he believeth that physical sensations are confined to human beings, wherefore is he unjust to the animals, and cruel.
And yet in truth, what difference is there when it cometh to physical sensations? The feelings are one and the same, whether ye inflict pain on man or on beast. There is no difference here whatever. And indeed ye do worse to harm an animal, for man hath a language, he can lodge a complaint, he can cry out and moan; if injured he can have recourse to the authorities and these will protect him from his aggressor. But the hapless beast is mute, able neither to express its hurt nor take its case to the authorities. If a man inflict a thousand ills upon a beast, it can neither ward him off with speech nor hale him into court. Therefore is it essential that ye show forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and that ye be even kinder to him than to your fellow man.
Train your children from their earliest days to be infinitely tender and loving to animals. If an animal be sick, let the children try to heal it, if it be hungry, let them feed it, if thirsty, let them quench its thirst, if weary, let them see that it rests.
Most human beings are sinners, but the beasts are innocent. Surely those
without sin should receive the most kindness and love - all except animals
which are harmful, such as bloodthirsty wolves, such as poisonous snakes,
and similar pernicious creatures, the reason being that kindness to these
is an injustice to human beings and to other animals as well. If, for
example, ye be tender-hearted toward a wolf, this is but tyranny to a
sheep, for a wolf will destroy a whole flock of sheep. A rabid dog, if
given the chance, can kill a thousand animals and men. Therefore,
compassion shown to wild and ravening beasts is cruelty to the peaceful
ones - and so the harmful must be dealt with. But to blessed animals the
utmost kindness must be shown, the more the better. Tenderness and
loving-kindness are basic principles of God's heavenly Kingdom. Ye should
most carefully bear this matter in mind.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, pages 158-160)
Educate the children in their infancy in such a way that they may become exceedingly kind and merciful to the animals. If the animal is sick they should endeavour to cure it; if it is hungry they should feed it; if it is thirsty, they should satisfy its thirst; if it is tired they should give it rest.
Man is generally sinful and the animal is innocent; unquestionably one
must be more kind and merciful to the innocent. The harmful animals, such
as the bloodthirsty wolf, the poisonous snake and other injurious animals
are excepted, because mercy towards these is cruelty to man, and other
(The Baha'i World, Vol. 9, p. 544)
(`Abdu'l-Baha, in Education, Compilation of Compilations, pages 310-311)
The majority of the diseases which overtake man also overtake the animal,
but the animal is not cured by drugs. In the mountains, as in the
wilderness, the animal's physician is the power of taste and smell. The
sick animal smells the plants that grow in the wilderness; he eats those
that are sweet and fragrant to his smell and taste, and is cured.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, page 258)
The proof of this is that while other animals have never studied medical
science, nor carried on researches into diseases or medicines, treatments
or cures - even so, when one of them falleth a prey to sickness, nature
leadeth it, in fields or desert places, to the very plant which, once
eaten, will rid the animal of its disease. The explanation is that if, as
an example, the sugar component in the animal's body hath decreased,
according to a natural law the animal hankereth after a herb that is rich
in sugar. Then, by a natural urge, which is the appetite, among a thousand
different varieties of plants across the field, the animal will discover
and consume that herb which containeth a sugar component in large amounts.
Thus the essential balance of the substances composing its body is
re-established, and the animal is rid of its disease.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, page 154)
And likewise, when the constitution is in a state of equilibrium, there
is no doubt that whatever is relished will be beneficial to health.
Observe how an animal will graze in a field where there are a hundred
thousand kinds of herbs and grasses, and how, with its sense of smell, it
snuffeth up the odours of the plants, and tasteth them with its sense of
taste; then it consumeth whatever herb is pleasurable to these senses, and
benefiteth therefrom. Were it not for this power of selectivity, the
animals would all be dead in a single day; for there are a great many
poisonous plants, and animals know nothing of the pharmacopoeia.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, page 155)
Even over animals, music has an effect. For example: When they wish to
take a camel over a desert road, they attach to him some bells, or they
play upon a flute, and this sound prevents him from realizing the fatigue
of the journey; his nerves are affected, but he does not have an increase
of thought, he feels nothing but physical sensation.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, in Music, Compilation of Compilations, page 79)
PLACE OF ANIMALS IN THE CREATION
Consider for instance how one group of created things constituteth the vegetable kingdom, and another the animal kingdom. Each of these two maketh use of certain elements in the air on which its own life dependeth, while each increaseth the quantity of such elements as are essential for the life of the other. In other words, the growth and development of the vegetable world is impossible without the existence of the animal kingdom, and the maintenance of animal life is inconceivable without the co-operation of the vegetable kingdom. Of like kind are the relationships that exist among all created things. Hence it was stated that co-operation and reciprocity are essential properties which are inherent in the unified system of the world of existence, and without which the entire creation would be reduced to nothingness.
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-Baha, in Huququ'llah, Compilation of Compilations, page 509)
Thus this flower once upon a time was of the soil. The animal eats the
flower or its fruit, and it thereby ascends to the animal kingdom. Man
eats the meat of the animal, and there you have its ascent into the human
kingdom, because all phenomena are divided into that which eats and that
which is eaten. Therefore, every primordial atom of these atoms, singly
and indivisible, has had its coursings throughout all the sentient
creation, going constantly into the aggregation of the various elements.
Hence do you have the conservation of energy and the infinity of
phenomena, the indestructibility of phenomena, changeless and immutable,
because life cannot suffer annihilation but only change.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, page 52)
Reflect upon the inner realities of the universe, the secret wisdoms involved, the enigmas, the inter-relationships, the rules that govern all. For every part of the universe is connected with every other part by ties that are very powerful and admit of no imbalance, nor any slackening whatever. In the physical realm of creation, all things are eaters and eaten: the plant drinketh in the mineral, the animal doth crop and swallow down the plant, man doth feed upon the animal, and the mineral devoureth the body of man. Physical bodies are transferred past one barrier after another, from one life to another, and all things are subject to transformation and change, save only the essence of existence itself - since it is constant and immutable, and upon it is founded the life of every species and kind, of every contingent reality throughout the whole of creation.
Whensoever thou dost examine, through a microscope, the water man
drinketh, the air he doth breathe, thou wilt see that with every breath of
air, man taketh in an abundance of animal life, and with every draught of
water, he also swalloweth down a great variety of animals. How could it
ever be possible to put a stop to this process? For all creatures are
eaters and eaten, and the very fabric of life is reared upon this fact.
Were it not so, the ties that interlace all created things within the
universe would be unravelled.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, page 157)
Although the mineral, vegetable, animal and man all have actual being, yet the mineral has no knowledge of the vegetable. It cannot apprehend it. It cannot imagine nor understand it.
It is the same with the vegetable. Any progress it may make, however highly it may become developed, it will never apprehend the animal, nor understand it. It is, so to speak, without news of it. It has no ears, no sight, no understanding.
It is the same with the animal. However much it may progress in its own kingdom, however refined its feelings may become, it will have no real notion of the world of man or of his special intellectual faculties.
The animal cannot understand the roundness of the earth, nor its motion in space, nor the central position of the sun, nor can it imagine such a thing as the all-pervading ether.
Although the mineral, vegetable, animal and man himself are actual
beings, the difference between their kingdoms prevents members of the
lower degree from comprehending the essence and nature of those of the
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, pages 22-23)
In the world of existence the animal is a captive of nature. Its actions
are according to the exigencies and requirements of nature. It has no
consideration or consciousness of good and evil. It simply follows its
natural instinct and inclination.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 40)
The pathway of nature is the pathway of the animal realm. The animal acts
in accordance with the requirements of nature, follows its own instincts
and desires. Whatever its impulses and proclivities may be, it has the
liberty to gratify them; yet it is a captive of nature. It cannot deviate
in the least degree from the road nature has established. It is utterly
lacking spiritual susceptibilities, ignorant of divine religion and
without knowledge of the Kingdom of God. The animal possesses no power of
ideation or conscious intelligence; it is a captive of the senses and
deprived of that which lies beyond them. It is subject to what the eye
sees, the ear hears, the nostrils sense, the taste detects and touch
reveals. These sensations are acceptable and sufficient for the animal.
But that which is beyond the range of the senses, that realm of phenomena
through which the conscious pathway to the Kingdom of God leads, the world
of spiritual susceptibilities and divine religion - of these the animal is
completely unaware, for in its highest station it is a captive of nature.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 177)
DISTINCTION BETWEEN ANIMALS AND HUMANS
Ferocity has characterized men even more than animals. The lion, tiger,
bear and wolf are ferocious because of their needs. Unless they are
fierce, cruel and unrelenting, they will die of starvation. The lion
cannot graze; its teeth are fitted only for food of flesh. This is also
true of other wild animals. Ferocity is natural to them as their means of
subsistence; but human ferocity proceeds from selfishness, greed and
oppression. It springs from no natural necessity.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 103)
If the animals are savage and ferocious, it is simply a means for their
subsistence and preservation. They are deprived of that degree of
intellect which can reason and discriminate between right and wrong,
justice and injustice; they are justified in their actions and not
responsible. When man is ferocious and cruel toward his fellowman, it is
not for subsistence or safety. His motive is selfish advantage and willful
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 352)
The world of nature is the kingdom of the animal. In its natural
condition and plane of limitation the animal is perfect. The ferocious
beasts of prey have been completely subject to the laws of nature in their
development. They are without education or training; they have no power of
abstract reasoning and intellectual ideals; they have no touch with the
spiritual world and are without conception of God or the Holy Spirit. The
animal can neither recognize nor apprehend the spiritual power of man and
makes no distinction between man and itself, for the reason that its
susceptibilities are limited to the plane of the senses. It lives under
the bondage of nature and nature's laws. All the animals are materialists.
They are deniers of God and without realization of a transcendent power in
the universe. They have no knowledge of the divine Prophets and Holy Books
- mere captives of nature and the sense world. In reality they are like
the great philosophers of this day who are not in touch with God and the
Holy Spirit - deniers of the Prophets, ignorant of spiritual
susceptibilities, deprived of the heavenly bounties and without belief in
the supernatural power. The animal lives this kind of life blissfully and
untroubled, whereas the material philosophers labor and study for ten or
twenty years in schools and colleges, denying God, the Holy Spirit and
divine inspirations. The animal is even a greater philosopher, for it
attains the ability to do this without labor and study. For instance, the
cow denies God and the Holy Spirit, knows nothing of divine inspirations,
heavenly bounties or spiritual emotions and is a stranger to the world of
hearts. Like the philosophers, the cow is a captive of nature and knows
nothing beyond the range of the senses. The philosophers, however, glory
in this, saying, "We are not captives of superstitions; we have implicit
faith in the impressions of the senses and know nothing beyond the realm
of nature, which contains and covers everything." But the cow, without
study or proficiency in the sciences, modestly and quietly views life from
the same standpoint, living in harmony with nature's laws in the utmost
dignity and nobility.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pages 311-312)
Without the teachings of God the world of humanity is like the animal
kingdom. What difference is there between the animal and man? The
difference is this: that the animal is not capable of apprehending the
divine teachings, whereas man is worthy of them and possesses the capacity
to understand. In the animal kingdom there is no such bestowal; therefore,
there is limited progression. At most, evolution in that kingdom is a
development of the organism. In the beginning it is small, undeveloped; it
develops, becomes larger; but its sphere of intellectual growth is
limited. Therefore, the teachings of God are the bestowals specialized for
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 61)
The physical happiness of material conditions was allotted to the animal.
Consider how the animal has attained the fullest degree of physical
felicity. A bird perches upon the loftiest branch and builds there its
nest with consummate beauty and skill. All the grains and seeds of the
meadows are its wealth and food; all the fresh water of mountain springs
and rivers of the plain are for its enjoyment. Truly, this is the acme of
material happiness, to which even a human creature cannot attain. This is
the honor of the animal kingdom. But the honor of the human kingdom is the
attainment of spiritual happiness in the human world, the acquisition of
the knowledge and love of God.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 166)
The body is the physical or animal degree of man. From the bodily point of view man is a sharer of the animal kingdom. The bodies alike of men and animals are composed of elements held together by the law of attraction.
Like the animal, man possesses the faculties of the senses, is subject to
heat, cold, hunger, thirst, etc.; unlike the animal, man has a rational
soul, the human intelligence.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, page 96)
Look also at the animals, how helpless they are in their apparent strength! For the elephant, the largest of all animals, is troubled by the fly, and the lion cannot escape the irritation of the worm. Even man, the highest form of created beings, needs many things for his very life; first of all he needs air, and if he is deprived of it for a few minutes, he dies. He is also dependent on water, food, clothing, warmth, and many other things. On all sides he is surrounded by dangers and difficulties, against which his physical body alone cannot cope. If a man looks at the world around him, he will see how all created things are dependent and are captive to the laws of Nature.
Man alone, by his spiritual power, has been able to free himself, to soar
above the world of matter and to make it his servant.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, page 20)
Man also shares in this creation; but it is not possible for either of
the lower kingdoms to understand that which takes place in the mind of
man. The animal cannot realize the intelligence of a human being, he only
knows that which is perceived by his animal senses, he cannot imagine
anything in the abstract. An animal could not learn that the world is
round, that the earth revolves round the sun, or the construction of the
electric telegraph. These things are only possible to man. Man is the
highest work of creation, the nearest to God of all creatures.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, page 24)
NEED FOR MAN TO RISE ABOVE THE ANIMAL STATE
What are the animals' propensities? To eat, drink, wander about and
sleep. The thoughts, the minds of the animals are confined to these. They
are captives in the bonds of these desires. Man becomes a prisoner and
slave to them when his ultimate desire is no higher than his welfare in
this world of the senses. Consider how difficult for man is the attainment
of pleasures and happiness in this mortal world. How easy it is for the
animal. Look upon the fields and flowers, prairies, streams, forests and
mountains. The grazing animals, the birds of the air, the fishes neither
toil nor undergo hardships; they sow not, nor are they concerned about the
reaping; they have no anxiety about business or politics - no trouble or
worry whatsoever. All the fields and grasses, all the meadows of fruits
and grains, all the mountain slopes and streams of salubrious water belong
to them. They do not labor for their livelihood and happiness because
everything is provided and made possible for them. If the life of man be
confined to this physical, material outlook, the animal's life is a
hundred times better, easier and more productive of comfort and
contentment. The animal is nobler, more serene and confident because each
hour is free from anxiety and worriment; but man, restless and
dissatisfied, runs from morn till eve, sailing the seas, diving beneath
them in submarines, flying aloft in airplanes, delving into the lowest
strata of the earth to obtain his livelihood - all with the greatest
difficulty, anxiety and unrest. Therefore, in this respect the animal is
nobler, more serene, poised and confident. Consider the birds in the
forest and jungle: how they build their nests high in the swaying
treetops, build them with the utmost skill and beauty - swinging, rocking
in the morning breezes, drinking the pure, sweet water, enjoying the most
enchanting views as they fly here and there high overhead, singing
joyously - all without labor, free from worry, care and forebodings. If
man's life be confined to the elemental, physical world of enjoyment, one
lark is nobler, more admirable than all humanity because its livelihood is
prepared, its condition complete, its accomplishment perfect and natural.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pages 184-185)
If man were to care for himself only he would be nothing but an animal for only the animals are thus egoistic. If you bring a thousand sheep to a well to kill nine hundred and ninety-nine the one remaining sheep would go on grazing, not thinking of the others and worrying not at all about the lost, never bothering that its own kind had passed away, or had perished or been killed. To look after one's self only is therefore an animal propensity. It is the animal propensity to live solitary and alone. It is the animal proclivity to look after one's own comfort. But man was created to be a man - to be fair, to be just, to be merciful, to be kind to all his species, never to be willing that he himself be well off while others are in misery and distress - this is an attribute of the animal and not of man. Nay, rather, man should be willing to accept hardships for himself in order that others may enjoy wealth; he should enjoy trouble for himself that others may enjoy happiness and well-being. This is the attribute of man. This is becoming of man. Otherwise man is not man - he is less than the animal.
The man who thinks only of himself and is thoughtless of others is
undoubtedly inferior to the animal because the animal is not possessed of
the reasoning faculty. The animal is excused; but in man there is reason,
the faculty of justice, the faculty of mercifulness. Possessing all these
faculties he must not leave them unused. He who is so hard-hearted as to
think only of his own comfort, such an one will not be called man.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, page 42)
O ye beloved of God! Know ye, verily, that the happiness of mankind lieth in the unity and the harmony of the human race, and that spiritual and material developments are conditioned upon love and amity among all men. Consider ye the living creatures, namely those which move upon the earth and those which fly, those which graze and those which devour. Among the beasts of prey each kind liveth apart from other species of its genus, observing complete antagonism and hostility; and whenever they meet they immediately fight and draw blood, gnashing their teeth and baring their claws. This is the way in which ferocious beasts and bloodthirsty wolves behave, carnivorous animals that live by themselves and fight for their lives. But the docile, good-natured and gentle animals, whether they belong to the flying or grazing species, associate with one another in complete affinity, united in their flocks, and living their lives with enjoyment, happiness and contentment. Such are the birds that are satisfied with and grateful for a few grains; they live in complete gladness, and break into rich and melodious song while soaring over meadows, plains, hills and mountains. Similarly those animals which graze, like the sheep, the antelope and the gazelle, consort in the greatest amity, intimacy and unity while living in their plains and prairies in a condition of complete contentment. But dogs, wolves, tigers, hyenas and those other beasts of prey, are alienated from each other as they hunt and roam about alone. The creatures of the fields and birds of the air do not even shun or molest one another when they come upon their mutual grazing and resting grounds but accept each other with friendliness, unlike the devouring beasts who immediately tear each other apart when one intrudes upon the other's cave or lair; yea, even if one merely passeth by the abode of another the latter at once rusheth out to attack and if possible kill the former.
Therefore, it hath been made clear and manifest that in the animal kingdom also love and affinity are the fruits of a gentle disposition, a pure nature and praiseworthy character, while discord and isolation are characteristic of the fierce beasts of the wild.
The Almighty hath not created in man the claws and teeth of ferocious
animals, nay rather hath the human form been fashioned and set with the
most comely attributes and adorned with the most perfect virtues. The
honour of this creation and the worthiness of this garment therefore
require man to have love and affinity for his own kind, nay rather, to act
towards all living creatures with justice and equity.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, pages 286-287)
ANIMALS AS SYMBOLS OR METAPHORS
In the realm of genesis and creation the question of color is of least
importance." "Throughout the animal kingdom," He explains, "we do not find
the creatures separated because of color. They recognize unity of species
and oneness of kind. If we do not find color distinction drawn in a
kingdom of lower intelligence and reason, how can it be justified among
human beings, especially when we know that all have come from the same
source and belong to the same household? In origin and intention of
creation mankind is one. Distinctions of race and color have arisen
(Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, page 38)
The world of humanity, too, is like a garden, and humankind are like the many-colored flowers. Therefore, different colors constitute an adornment. In the same way, there are many colors in the realm of animals. Doves are of many colors; nevertheless, they live in utmost harmony. They never look at color; instead, they look at the species. How often white doves fly with black ones. In the same way, other birds and varicolored animals never look at color; they look at the species.
Now ponder this: Animals, despite the fact that they lack reason and
understanding, do not make colors the cause of conflict. Why should man,
who has reason, create conflict? This is wholly unworthy of him.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 45)
Among the animals racial prejudice does not exist. Consider the doves;
there is no distinction as to whether it is an oriental or an occidental
dove. The sheep are all of one race; there is no assumption of distinction
between an eastern and a western sheep. When they meet, they associate
with perfect fellowship. If a dove from the West should go to the Orient,
it will associate with the eastern doves unhesitatingly. There will be no
attitude of unwillingness as if saying, "You belong to the East; I am from
the West." Is it reasonable or allowable that a racial prejudice which is
not observed by the animal kingdom should be entertained by man?
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 299)
Likewise, we observe that animals which have undergone training in their
sphere of limitation will progress and advance unmistakably, become more
beautiful in appearance and increase in intelligence. For instance, how
intelligent and knowing the Arabian horse has become through training,
even how polite this horse has become through education. As to the human
world: It is more in need of guidance and education than the lower
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 77)
In His day, according to prophecy, the wolf and the lamb were to drink
from the same fountain. This was realized in Christ. The fountain referred
to was the Gospel, from which the water of life gushes forth. The wolf and
lamb are opposed and divergent races symbolized by these animals. Their
meeting and association were impossible, but having become believers in
Jesus Christ those who were formerly as wolves and lambs became united
through the words of the Gospel.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 200)
Lo, the Nightingale of Paradise singeth upon the twigs of the Tree of
Eternity, with holy and sweet melodies, proclaiming to the sincere ones
the glad tidings of the nearness of God
(Baha'u'llah, in Baha'i Prayers (US), page 210)
Should it be God's intention, there would appear out of the forests of
celestial might the lion of indomitable strength whose roaring is like
unto the peals of thunder reverberating in the mountains.
(Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, page 197)
Regard men as a flock of sheep that need a shepherd for their protection.
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, page 63)
...a flock of sheep, once scattered, falleth prey to the wolf, and birds
that fly alone will be caught fast in the claws of the hawk.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, page 278)
Outwardly they appear as sheep, yet inwardly they are naught but ravening
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, page 315)
The birds of men's hearts, however high they soar, can never hope to
attain the heights of His unknowable Essence.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings, page 193)
The bird seeketh its nest; the nightingale the charm of the rose; whilst
those birds, the hearts of men, content with transient dust, have strayed
far from their eternal nest, and with eyes turned towards the slough of
heedlessness are bereft of the glory of the divine presence.
(Baha'u'llah, Persian Hidden Words, page 2)
For should the birds of the hearts of them that are nigh unto Thee be
ever enabled to soar as long as Thine own overpowering sovereignty can
endure, or to ascend as long as the empire of Thy Divine holiness can
last, they shall, in no wise, be able to transcend the limitations which a
contingent world hath imposed upon them, nor pass beyond its confines.
(Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations, page 88)
Ye are even as the bird which soareth, with the full force of its mighty
wings and with complete and joyous confidence, through the immensity of
the heavens, until, impelled to satisfy its hunger, it turneth longingly
to the water and clay of the earth below it, and, having been entrapped in
the mesh of its desire, findeth itself impotent to resume its flight to
the realms whence it came. Powerless to shake off the burden weighing on
its sullied wings, that bird, hitherto an inmate of the heavens, is now
forced to seek a dwelling-place upon the dust. Wherefore, O My servants,
defile not your wings with the clay of waywardness and vain desires, and
suffer them not to be stained with the dust of envy and hate, that ye may
not be hindered from soaring in the heavens of My divine knowledge.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings, page 327)
We may think of science as one wing and religion as the other; a bird
needs two wings for flight, one alone would be useless.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, page 130)
The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female.
So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will
not fly. Until womankind reaches the same degree as man, until she enjoys
the same arena of activity, extraordinary attainment for humanity will not
be realized; humanity cannot wing its way to heights of real attainment.
When the two wings or parts become equivalent in strength, enjoying the
same prerogatives, the flight of man will be exceedingly lofty and
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 375)
The world of humanity has two wings - one is women and the other men. Not
until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing
remain weak, flight is impossible.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, page 302)
If ye should hunt with beasts or birds of prey, invoke ye the Name of God
when ye send them to pursue their quarry; for then whatever they catch
shall be lawful unto you, even should ye find it to have died. He, verily,
is the Omniscient, the All-Informed. Take heed, however, that ye hunt not
to excess. Tread ye the path of justice and equity in all things.
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 60, page 40)
24. QUESTION: Concerning hunting.
ANSWER: He saith, exalted be He: "If ye should hunt with beasts or birds of prey" and so forth. Other means, such as bows and arrows, guns, and similar equipment employed in hunting, are also included. If, however, traps or snares are used, and the game dieth before it can be reached, it is unlawful for consumption.
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Questions and Answers, page 115)
83. "If ye should hunt with beasts or birds of prey, invoke ye the Name of God when ye send them to pursue their quarry; for then whatever they catch shall be lawful unto you, even should ye find it to have died." # 60
By this law, Baha'u'llah greatly simplifies practices and religious regulations of the past relating to hunting. He has also stated that hunting with such weapons as bows and arrows, guns, and the like, is included in this ruling, but that the consumption of game if it is found dead in a trap or a net is prohibited (Q and A 24).
84. hunt not to excess # 60
While hunting is not forbidden by Baha'u'llah, He warns against excessive
hunting. The Universal House of Justice will, in due course, have to
consider what constitutes an excess in hunting.
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Notes, pages 202-203)
There are a number of other situations in which weapons are needed and
can be legitimately used; for instance, in countries where people hunt for
their food and clothing, and in such sports as archery, marksmanship, and
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Notes, page 241)
137. O thou who art voicing the praises of thy Lord! I have read thy letter, wherein thou didst express astonishment at some of the laws of God, such as that concerning the hunting of innocent animals, creatures who are guilty of no wrong.
Be thou not surprised at this. Reflect upon the inner realities of the universe, the secret wisdoms involved, the enigmas, the inter-relationships, the rules that govern all. For every part of the universe is connected with every other part by ties that are very powerful and admit of no imbalance, nor any slackening whatever. In the physical realm of creation, all things are eaters and eaten: the plant drinketh in the mineral, the animal doth crop and swallow down the plant, man doth feed upon the animal, and the mineral devoureth the body of man. Physical bodies are transferred past one barrier after another, from one life to another, and all things are subject to transformation and change, save only the essence of existence itself - since it is constant and immutable, and upon it is founded the life of every species and kind, of every contingent reality throughout the whole of creation.
Whensoever thou dost examine, through a microscope, the water man drinketh, the air he doth breathe, thou wilt see that with every breath of air, man taketh in an abundance of animal life, and with every draught of water, he also swalloweth down a great variety of animals. How could it ever be possible to put a stop to this process? For all creatures are eaters and eaten, and the very fabric of life is reared upon this fact. Were it not so, the ties that interlace all created things within the universe would be unravelled.
And further, whensoever a thing is destroyed, and decayeth, and is cut
off from life, it is promoted into a world that is greater than the world
it knew before. It leaveth, for example, the life of the mineral and goeth
forward into the life of the plant; then it departeth out of the vegetable
life and ascendeth into that of the animal, following which it forsaketh
the life of the animal and riseth into the realm of human life, and this
is out of the grace of thy Lord, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, pages 156-158)
As humanity progresses, meat will be used less and less, for the teeth of
man are not carnivorous. For example, the lion is endowed with carnivorous
teeth, which are intended for meat, and if meat be not found, the lion
starves. The lion cannot graze; its teeth are of different shape. The
digestive system of the lion is such that it cannot receive nourishment
save through meat. The eagle has a crooked beak, the lower part shorter
than the upper. It cannot pick up grain; it cannot graze; therefore, it is
compelled to partake of meat. The domestic animals have herbivorous teeth
formed to cut grass, which is their fodder. The human teeth, the molars,
are formed to grind grain. The front teeth, the incisors, are for fruits,
etc. It is, therefore, quite apparent according to the implements for
eating that man's food is intended to be grain and not meat. When mankind
is more fully developed, the eating of meat will gradually cease.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pages 170-171)
1028. Regarding the eating of animal flesh and abstinence therefrom, know thou of a certainty that, in the beginning of creation, God determined the food of every living being, and to eat contrary to that determination is not approved. For instance, beasts of prey, such as the wolf, lion and leopard, are endowed with ferocious, tearing instruments, such as hooked talons and claws. From this it is evident that the food of such beasts is meat. If they were to attempt to graze, their teeth would not cut the grass, neither could they chew the cud, for they do not have molars. Likewise, God hath given to the four-footed grazing animals such teeth as reap the grass like a sickle, and from this we understand that the food of these species of animal is vegetable. They cannot chase and hunt down other animals. The falcon hath a hooked beak and sharp talons; the hooked beak preventeth him from grazing, therefore his food also is meat.
But now coming to man, we see he hath neither hooked teeth nor sharp
nails or claws, nor teeth like iron sickles. From this it becometh evident
and manifest that the food of man is cereals and fruit. Some of the teeth
of man are like millstones to grind the grain, and some are sharp to cut
the fruit. Therefore he is not in need of meat, nor is he obliged to eat
it. Even without eating meat he would live with the utmost vigour and
energy. For example, the community of the Brahmins in India do not eat
meat; notwithstanding this they are not inferior to other nations in
strength, power, vigour, outward senses or intellectual virtues. Truly,
the killing of animals and the eating of their meat is somewhat contrary
to pity and compassion, and if one can content oneself with cereals,
fruit, oil and nuts, such as pistachios, almonds and so on, it would
undoubtedly be better and more pleasing.
(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) (`Abdu'l-Baha, in Health and Healing, Compilation of Compilations, page 462)
1029. Thou hast written regarding the four canine teeth in man, saying
that these teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower, are for the
purpose of eating meat. Know thou that these four teeth are not created
for meat-eating, although one can eat meat with them. All the teeth of man
are made for eating fruit, cereals, and vegetables. These four teeth,
however, are designed for breaking hard shells, such as those of almonds.
But eating meat is not forbidden or unlawful, nay, the point is this, that
it is possible for man to live without eating meat and still be strong.
Meat is nourishing and containeth the elements of herbs, seeds, and
fruits; therefore sometimes it is essential for the sick and for the
rehabilitation of health. There is no objection in the Law of God to the
eating of meat if it is required. So if thy constitution is rather weak
and thou findest meat useful, thou mayest eat it.
(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) (`Abdu'l-Baha, in Health and Healing, Compilation of Compilations, page 463)
1052. "What will be the food of the future?" "Fruit and grains. The time
will come when meat will no longer be eaten. Medical science is only in
its infancy, yet it has shown that our natural diet is that which grows
out of the ground. The people will gradually develop up to the condition
of this natural food."
(Julia M. Grundy. "Ten Days in the Light of Akka", rev. ed. Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1979, pp. 8-9) (`Abdu'l-Baha, in Health and Healing, Compilation of Compilations, page 475)
Likewise there is nothing in the teachings about whether people should
eat their food cooked or raw; exercise or not exercise; resort to specific
therapies or not; nor is it forbidden to eat meat.
(Shoghi Effendi, in Health, Healing, and the Devotional Attitude, Compilation of Compilations, page 481)
In regard to the question as to whether people ought to kill animals for
food or not, there is no explicit statement in the Baha'i Sacred
Scriptures (as far as I know) in favour or against it. It is certain,
however, that if man can live on a purely vegetarian diet and thus avoid
killing animals, it would be much preferable. This is, however, a very
controversial question and the Baha'is are free to express their views on
(9 July 1931) (Shoghi Effendi, in Health, Healing, and the Devotional Attitude, Compilation of Compilations, page 476)
"In this connection the House of Justice instructs us to say that in a
Tablet in which He stresses the need for kindness to animals, Abdu'l-Baha
states that it would be permissible to perform an operation on a living
animal for the purposes of research even if the animal were killed
thereby, but that the animal must be well anaesthetized and that the
utmost care must be exercised that it does not suffer."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, March 9, 1978: Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 16) (Lights of Guidance, page 294)
"The Guardian fully sympathizes with your repulsion against any torture
to animals. However, he feels that as there are human beings being
tortured much worse than animals all over the world, often physically, and
more often mentally, that it is more important for the Baha'is to
concentrate on what will free man from the cruelty and injustice which
oppress him, rather than animals. Once we change human hearts, there will
be no more cruelty to animals, and medical research will be carried out in
a way which will eliminate as much suffering in experiments as possible."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 27, 1952)
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 19th January 1978 enquiring the Baha'i point of view on the vivisection of animals. The beloved Guardian was asked a similar question to which his secretary replied on his behalf, on 29 November 1955: `As there is no definite and conclusive statement on Vivisection in the Baha'i Teachings, this is a matter which the International House of Justice will have to pass upon in the future.'
"The House of Justice does not wish to legislate upon this matter at the present time. It is left to the consciences of the individual friends, who should make their decisions in light of the teachings concerning animals and their treatment.
"In this connection the House of Justice instructs us to say that in a
Tablet in which He stresses the need for kindness to animals, Abdu'l-Baha
states that it would be permissible to perform an operation on a living
animal for the purposes of research even if the animal were killed
thereby, but that the animal must be well anaesthetized and that the
utmost care must be exercised that it does not suffer."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, March 9, 1978: Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 16) (Lights of Guidance, pages 293-294)
International Environment Forum - Updated 2 January 2010