Tag Archives: culture

Alcohol and the Baha’is…why did Baha’u’llah forbid the consumption of alcohol to His followers?

This is a very interesting topic to me. I was raised in Latin America where, as in most parts of the world unfortunately, large amount of youth find that fun is only achievable through alcohol consumption.
As a teenager, being a Bahá’í represented a challenge in regards to abstaining from following the crowd and participating in drinking alcohol. It wasn’t an easy task but thanks to the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith, I had the will power and answers when asked why I didn’t drink and why I thought that a “little” bit of alcohol does matter.

Bahá’ís are told not to drink…it is one of the laws we try to follow. It is not only limited to the consumption of alcohol but anything that affects the mind which also includes drugs. It might seem difficult to some of us to explain the reasons behind it if we are not familiar with the Writings but there are very good medical and spiritual reasons why we are told not to. For example, alcohol kills the only cells that do not regenerate (those in your brain), it damages your perception and your mind which differentiate us from animals (free will), and it damages the liver- among other parts of our bodies. And well, that’s not even mentioning the implications it has on our actions and the lives of others! ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explains that the reason for prohibiting the use of alcoholic drinks is because “alcohol leadeth the mind astray and causeth the weakening of the body.”

I have chosen some quotes from that can perhaps bring you the insight and guidance it has brought me. In one of His Tablets, Bahá’u’lláh states:

Beware lest ye exchange the Wine of God for your own wine, for it will stupefy your minds, and turn your faces away from the Countenance of God, the All-Glorious, the Peerless, the Inaccessible. Approach it not, for it hath been forbidden unto you by the behest of God, the Exalted, the Almighty.

And in regards to drugs and heavier substances than alcohol, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has written:

Regarding hashish you have pointed out that some Persians have become habituated to its use. Gracious God! This is the worst of all intoxicants, and its prohibition is explicitly revealed. Its use causeth the disintegration of thought and the complete torpor of the soul. How could anyone seek the fruit of the infernal tree, and by partaking of it, be led to exemplify the qualities of a monster? How could one use this forbidden drug, and thus deprive himself of the blessings of the All-Merciful? Alcohol consumeth the mind and causeth man to commit acts of absurdity, but this opium, this foul fruit of the infernal tree, and this wicked hashish extinguish the mind, freeze the spirit, petrify the soul, waste the body and leave man frustrated and lost.

There is a picture and article here on the damage alcohol consumption has on your brain if you are interested. Not a very glamorous activity now, is it?

What is unity?

Yeah, I know the title is a bit much…but seriously, how much do we know about it? How well do we understand it?

In the Baha’i Writings there are a great number of Quotations that mention this word and try to explain (according to our limited understanding as human beings) its true meaning. Now, I used to think that phrases such as “unity of thought” or “unity of efforts” meant we should all think alike and be OK with the opinions of others. Later on I learnt that “unity of thought” is far more amazing than that. I realized it means that after consulting about a certain issue, the truth comes to light by the clash of opinions and the detachment each person shows towards their own opinion. Now, once a consensus is reached either by unanimity or majority of votes then all members must abide by this decision. If it is carried out with the utmost love and obedience, this is unity of thought. That all are united by one common goal and vision. This is closely linked with unity of efforts. Clearly, no need to explain that further.

Unity unlike uniformity is what brings together all peoples of the world and makes us realize that we actually compliment each other. Not only physically (in beauty of diversity) but also intellectually. The work or a scientist would require the aid of an engineer which would at the same time need the assistance of a teacher and the latter of a health-care practitioner and so on…we are dependent upon each other not only in this regard but also culturally. A culturally diverse world is far more interesting and beautiful than a world dominated by uniformity and one culture has so much to give to the world in regards to traditional knowledge that it cannot be undermined.WE MUST PRESERVE CULTURE. It is our patrimony.

Speaking of which, I have the honor to participate in this year’s UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. I am sure the next post will be related to that.

Until then!