From a Bahá’í perspective, the purpose of life is to draw closer to God (to know Him and to worship Him) and to acquire virtues which will be necessary in the next world. Suffering seems to be one of the ways God has given us to help us attain these two goals. Often it’s the suffering arising from abuse which causes people to search for spiritual solutions and strive with heart and soul to apply those solutions to prevent further suffering. Having said that, the Writings recognize that although suffering may be the cause of spiritual development, it is never a justification for inflicting or ignoring abuse, failing to assist those who are suffering abuse, or failing to call to account one who is perpetrating abuse. Since violence and abuse ravages all regions of the world, affects all economic and educational strata and all the suffering arising from it destroys all types of families, learning how to overcome it is one of the urgent needs of this age.
The hard-won wisdom such suffering and searching bring to the development of individuals, families, communities, and institutions may be one of the most precious fruits of the mystery of suffering. Through an exploration of spiritual principles, we are inspired and motivated to struggle towards creating healthier families for a happier and more peaceful world.
This section of the website is dedicated to providing quotes from the Writings to enable the reader to better understand the purpose of life and the spiritual dimension of our struggles; the actions which contribute to abuse and violence, and how to break the cycle; the effects on the victim; the consequences for the abuser; effective tools for healing and recovery and the role of individuals, families and institutions in the healing process.
“O ye lovers of God! In this, the cycle of Almighty God, violence and force, constraint and oppression, are one and all condemned.” ‘Abdu’l- Bahá
“The National Spiritual Assembly wishes to convey to the Bahá’í community a clear message that acts of domestic violence are at complete variance with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and that violence in the family is a practice to be condemned. In addition, domestic violence is a criminal act in the United States. Such behaviors, on the part of either men or women, are rooted in longstanding social practices connected with an inability or unwillingness to apply the fundamental spiritual principle of the equality of women and men, and to recognize the fundamental right of every human being to be treated with consideration and respect.” (Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 6)
“Sexual abuse and assault, including rape, are crimes, regardless of whether committed by a stranger, acquaintance, relative, or spouse, by a person of the same or opposite sex, and regardless of the age of the victim.” (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 59)
“The lives of the Founders of our Faith clearly show that to be fundamentally assured does not mean that we live without anxieties, nor does being happy mean that there are not periods of deep grief when, like the Guardian, we wrap ourselves in a blanket, pray and supplicate, and give ourselves time for healing in preparation for the next great effort.” (Shoghi Effendi, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 117)
“Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD can afflict persons of any age, gender or background. Those most at risk are victims or witnesses of abuse, molestation, assault or attempted assault, rape, torture, natural disasters, severe accidents, or terrorism, persons who have lived in areas of prolonged conflict or persecution (including members of minority populations in the United States), prisoners or former prisoners, persons who have been in combat, and those whose jobs bring them into contact with life-threatening situations or their aftermath. “ (The National Spiritual Assembly of the USA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 14)
“In general, the best results for the healing process are found when the spiritual approach is combined with the remedy offered by competent doctors.” (Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Psychology and Knowledge of Self, #23)
“Experience seems to suggest that the healing process can often be a lengthy and stressful one requiring the close guidance and help of trained professionals.” (Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Childhood Abuse, Ritual)
Regarding Domestic Violence:
“If a Bahá’í woman suffers abuse or is subjected to rape by her husband, she has the right to turn to the assembly for assistance and counsel, or to seek legal protection. Such an abuse would gravely jeopardize the continuation of the marriage, and could well lead to a condition of irreconcilable antipathy. “ (Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 59)
“Family violence must be addressed by the world community. It is not a private matter, but has become a global pandemic that the international community can neither ignore nor allow to be protected within the privacy of the family. It is an affliction that ravages all regions of the world, all economic and educational strata and all types of families. The family is the primary locus of human socialization and development. If that development process is denied or distorted, the adverse consequences can be irreversible. Behaviors learned in the home are replicated in the wider society.” (Bahá’í International Community, Creating Violence-Free Families)
“Overcoming domestic violence requires developing an environment in the community in which abusive behavior is not tolerated, in which individuals are sensitive to the warning signs of abuse, in which no individuals or families are so isolated that they have no one to turn to in times of difficulty, and in which there is a ‘spirit of loving encouragement and support to families…’ “ (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 119)