Work is worship and mendicity and sloth are not permitted. Baha’i Writings.

I was thinking today about the possibility of just sitting back, relaxing and doing nothing and this is what came to mind! I had read about this and continue to read year after year and I thought I would share some insights of what I get from the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith.

Firstly, Bahá’u’lláh (Messenger of God, Founder of the Bahá’í Faith) continually stressed the importace of education for all. Back then, men and women were not considered equal and if preference was to be given to only one child in the home, it would be the male. He came and said that if it had to come down to making a decision between male or female, it should be the females since they are the first educators of the world! Furthermore, in His incredible generosity, God has allowed many different ways to worship Him, work being one of them. Here is a relevant quote by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that includes these two points:

The education of each child is compulsory…. In addition to this wide-spread education each child must be taught a profession, art, or trade, so that every member of the community will be enabled to earn his own livelihood. Work done in the spirit of service is the highest form of worship….

In addition, Shoghi Effendi explained that “Bahá’u’lláh further states that mendicity should not only be discouraged but entirely wiped out from the face of society. It is the duty of those who are in charge of the organization of society to give every individual the opportunity of acquiring the necessary talent in some kind of profession, and also the means of utilizing such a talent, both for its own sake and for the sake of earning the means of his livelihood. Every individual, no matter how handicapped and limited he may be, is under the obligation of engaging in some work or profession, for work, especially when performed in the spirit of service, is according to Bahá’u’lláh, a form of worship. It has not only a utilitarian purpose, but has a value in itself, because it draws us nearer to God, and enables to better grasp His purpose for us in this world.”

This is my understanding: if we think about work done in “the spirit of service”, we cannot limit ourselves to think only about professions such as medicine and education. For example, an artisan is worshipping God as she makes a vase in the same way a surgeon is worshipping God as he performs surgery on a patient so long as those acts are done to the fullest of their capacity and with the intention of bringing forth the attributes of God such as beauty and might. We must use our work and our talents -whatever they may be- to serve humanity. To sit around and beg in this day and age is not acceptable.

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. Ponder ye in your hearts the grace and the blessings of God and render thanks unto Him at eventide and at dawn. Waste not your time in idleness and sloth. Occupy yourselves with that which profiteth yourselves and others.

From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh.

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