Posted by: samandal | June 24, 2009

The Pearl of the Heart

Díyáfat-i-Rahmat, the Feast of Mercy

“The pearl of justice is found in the heart of mercy.”                                    (Catherine of Siena)

Jalálu’d-Dín Rúmí (1207–73) argued that every age has had a Manifestation of God. In the Bahá’í Faith, the validity of a Manifestation of God is confirmed by six criteria: that he transform the lives of those who recognize him; that he reveal divine verses; that he possess certain unique characteristics; that he conform with the chain of prophecy; that he be appropriate to the era in which he is born; and that divine justice will come to his opponents. If, for example, Muhammad were merely a human representative of the Divine, it would have been inconceivable for him to have revealed divine verses like those of the Qur’án.

The core principle of the Bahá’í revelation is justice (the complement of mercy), the fulfillment of all the virtues. The basis for the application of justice is mercy; unless justice is tempered with mercy, it is mere legality, a vacuous exercise in doctrinaire formalism. The prerequisite for justice is the condition of equality, and the prerequisite for mercy is the condition of empathy. Bahá’u’lláh intended his core text of laws and ordinances, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, to be resilient and open to interpretive flexibility, and he rendered gender distinction immaterial as a guide for individual or social activity. He explicitly identified justice, not unity, as the fundamental principle of the revelation he received:

“The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice.”                                (Bahá’u’lláh: Arabic Hidden Word, number 2)

“Note that what appeared [in the new revelation] was virtues.”                  (Bahá’u’lláh: Tablet of the Son, paragraph 8)

Bahá’u’lláh did not assert or imply that there exists one (and only one) correct answer to any spiritual question. On the contrary, the prophet taught that each person is able to discern the core truths of revelation in accordance with her own capacity, within the constraints of her own nature. Áqá Mírzá Haydár ‘Alí Isfahání, a prominent missionary of Bahá’u’lláh, characterized the prophet as but “a man, perfect in humanity,” whereas other Bahá’í teachers asserted that Bahá’u’lláh was indeed the immanent presence of the divine essence itself. In the absence of an interpreter, no one has the authority to impose a specific interpretation, let alone a strict elucidation (legislative or otherwise), upon any individual believer.

“Thou art the daystar of the heavens of My holiness.”                              (Bahá’u’lláh: Persian Hidden Word, number 73)