The Purpose of Justice

Like prophets before him Bahá’u’lláh counselled kings and rulers of society to observe justice. Referring to the suffering inflicted on himself and his followers by the rulers of his time he writes:

Twenty years have passed, O kings, during which We have, each day, tasted the agony of a fresh tribulation. … They that rose up against Us have put us to death, have shed our blood, have plundered our property, and violated our honour. Though aware of most of our afflictions, ye, nevertheless, have failed to stay the hand of the aggressor. For is it not your clear duty to restrain the tyranny of the oppressor, and to deal equitably with your subjects, that your high sense of justice may be fully demonstrated to all mankind?

God hath committed into your hands the reins of the government of the people, that ye may rule with justice over them, safeguard the rights of the downtrodden, and punish the wrongdoers. If ye neglect the duty prescribed unto you by God in His Book … [g]rievous, indeed, will be your error.[1]

Speaking in the voice of God, Bahá’u’lláh’s summation of the religious teachings of the past contains this ancient truth:

O OPPRESSORS ON EARTH!
Withdraw your hands from tyranny, for I have pledged Myself not to forgive any man’s injustice.[2]

Of increasing concentration of wealth Bahá’u’lláh wrote:

O kings of the earth! We see you increasing every year your expenditures, and laying the burden thereof on your subjects. This, verily, is wholly and grossly unjust. Fear the sighs and tears of this Wronged One, and lay not excessive burdens on your peoples. Do not rob them to rear palaces for yourselves; nay rather choose for them that which ye choose for yourselves. … Your people are your treasures. … By them ye rule, by their means ye subsist, by their aid ye conquer. Yet, how disdainfully ye look upon them! How strange, how very strange![3]

This issue is further explored in the article on extremes of wealth and poverty.

It is not only the governors of society, who have a duty to be just. It is a duty we all have.

The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be.[4]

A striking reference to justice occurs in a passage where Bahá’u’lláh defines the purpose of justice:

The light of men is Justice. Quench it not with the contrary winds of oppression and tyranny. The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men. …[5]


Image Credits: By https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Lonpicman [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

(This article is the 81st 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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