Work is Worship

Among Bahá’u’lláh’s Glad Tidings is one directed to what we spend most of our waking time doing: working. Often, in the past “sacred” has been taken to imply set apart. A special caste was concerned with the administration of the sacred. The ordinary day to day activities of life were not sacred. Bahá’u’lláh overturns this separation. Work is worship.

It is enjoined upon every one of you to engage in some form of occupation, such as crafts, trades and the like. We have graciously exalted your engagement in such work to the rank of worship unto God, the True One. … Waste not your time in idleness and sloth. Occupy yourselves with that which profiteth yourselves and others. … When anyone occupieth himself in a craft or trade, such occupation itself is regarded in the estimation of God as an act of worship … [1]

In the Hidden Words, we find:

The best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling and spend upon themselves and upon their kindred for the love of God, the Lord of all worlds.[2]

(Noting that Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings concerning work apply to both men and women).

The concept of the interconnection between work and worship is reflected also in the institution of the “House of Worship”, which Bahá’u’lláh institutes. It is not only a place of devotion. It is also a centre of service to humanity, as Abdu’l Baha outlined.

Although it is a House of Worship, it is also connected with a hospital, a drug dispensary, a traveler’s hospice, a school for orphans, and a university for advanced studies. Every [House of Worship] is connected with these five things. My hope is that the [House of Worship] will now be established in America, and that gradually the hospital, the school, the university, the dispensary and the hospice, all functioning according to the most efficient and orderly procedures, will follow. Make these matters known to the beloved of the Lord, so that they will understand how very great is the importance of this “Dawning-Point of the Remembrance of God.” The Temple is not only a place for worship; rather, in every respect is it complete and whole.[3]

Or in recent observations of the international governing body of the Baha’i Faith, the Universal House of Justice.

A Temple and its associated dependencies embody two essential and inseparable aspects of Bahá’í life: worship and service. As a potent symbol and an integral element of the divine civilization towards which Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation ushers all peoples, the House of Worship becomes the focal point of the community from which it emerges.[4]

Image Credits: Agriculture is taught at the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women in Indore, India. (1990s) Copyright © Bahá’í International Community

(This article is the 46th in a series of what I hope will be 200 articles in 200 days for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh. The anniversary is being celebrated around the world on 21 and 22 October 2017, The articles are simply my personal reflections on Bahá’u’lláh’s life and work. Any errors or inadequacies in these articles are solely my responsibility.)


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