Selections From the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá
129: O Friends of the Pure and Omnipotent God! To ...
O Friends of the Pure and Omnipotent God! To be pure and holy in all things is an attribute of the consecrated
soul and a necessary characteristic of the unenslaved
mind. The best of perfections is immaculacy and
the freeing of oneself from every defect. Once the individual
is, in every respect, cleansed and purified, then will he
become a focal centre reflecting the Manifest Light.
First in a human being's way of life must be purity, then
freshness, cleanliness, and independence of spirit. First must
the stream bed be cleansed, then may the sweet river waters
be led into it. Chaste eyes enjoy the beatific vision of the
Lord and know what this encounter meaneth; a pure sense
inhaleth the fragrances that blow from the rose gardens of
His grace; a burnished heart will mirror forth the comely
face of truth.
This is why, in Holy Scriptures, the counsels of heaven
are likened to water, even as the Qur'án saith: `And pure
water send We down from Heaven,'
and the Gospel:
`Except a man be baptized of water and of the spirit, he
cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.'
Thus is it clear
that the Teachings which come from God are heavenly
outpourings of grace; they are rain-showers of divine
mercy, and they cleanse the human heart.
My meaning is this, that in every aspect of life, purity
and holiness, cleanliness and refinement, exalt the human
condition and further the development of man's inner
reality. Even in the physical realm, cleanliness will conduce
to spirituality, as the Holy Writings clearly state. And
although bodily cleanliness is a physical thing, it hath,
nevertheless, a powerful influence on the life of the spirit. It
is even as a voice wondrously sweet, or a melody played:
although sounds are but vibrations in the air which affect
the ear's auditory nerve, and these vibrations are but chance
phenomena carried along through the air, even so, see how
they move the heart. A wondrous melody is wings for the
spirit, and maketh the soul to tremble for joy. The purport
is that physical cleanliness doth also exert its effect upon the
Observe how pleasing is cleanliness in the sight of God,
and how specifically it is emphasized in the Holy Books of
the Prophets; for the Scriptures forbid the eating or the use
of any unclean thing. Some of these prohibitions were
absolute, and binding upon all, and whoso transgressed the
given law was abhorred of God and anathematized by the
believers. Such, for example, were things categorically forbidden,
the perpetration of which was accounted a most
grievous sin, among them actions so loathsome that it is
shameful even to speak their name.
But there are other forbidden things which do not cause
immediate harm, and the injurious effects of which are only
gradually produced: such acts are also repugnant to the
Lord, and blameworthy in His sight, and repellent. The
absolute unlawfulness of these, however, hath not been
expressly set forth in the Text, but their avoidance is necessary
to purity, cleanliness, the preservation of health, and
freedom from addiction.
Among these latter is smoking tobacco, which is dirty,
smelly, offensive--an evil habit, and one the harmfulness of
which gradually becometh apparent to all. Every qualified
physician hath ruled--and this hath also been proven by
tests--that one of the components of tobacco is a deadly
poison, and that the smoker is vulnerable to many and
various diseases. This is why smoking hath been plainly set
forth as repugnant from the standpoint of hygiene.
The Báb, at the outset of His mission, explicitly prohibited
tobacco, and the friends one and all abandoned its
use. But since those were times when dissimulation was
permitted, and every individual who abstained from
smoking was exposed to harassment, abuse and even death
--the friends, in order not to advertise their beliefs, would
smoke. Later on, the Book of Aqdas was revealed, and since
smoking tobacco was not specifically forbidden there, the
believers did not give it up. The Blessed Beauty, however,
always expressed repugnance for it, and although, in the
early days, there were reasons why He would smoke a little
tobacco, in time He completely renounced it, and those
sanctified souls who followed Him in all things also
abandoned its use.
My meaning is that in the sight of God, smoking tobacco
is deprecated, abhorrent, filthy in the extreme; and, albeit
by degrees, highly injurious to health. It is also a waste of
money and time, and maketh the user a prey to a noxious
addiction. To those who stand firm in the Covenant, this
habit is therefore censured both by reason and experience,
and renouncing it will bring relief and peace of mind to all
men. Furthermore, this will make it possible to have a fresh
mouth and unstained fingers, and hair that is free of a foul
and repellent smell. On receipt of this missive, the friends
will surely, by whatever means and even over a period of
time, forsake this pernicious habit. Such is my hope.
As to opium, it is foul and accursed. God protect us from
the punishment He inflicteth on the user. According to the
explicit Text of the Most Holy Book, it is forbidden, and
its use is utterly condemned. Reason showeth that smoking
opium is a kind of insanity, and experience attesteth that the
user is completely cut off from the human kingdom. May
God protect all against the perpetration of an act so hideous
as this, an act which layeth in ruins the very foundation of
what it is to be human, and which causeth the user to be
dispossessed for ever and ever. For opium fasteneth on the
soul, so that the user's conscience dieth, his mind is blotted
away, his perceptions are eroded. It turneth the living into
the dead. It quencheth the natural heat. No greater harm
can be conceived than that which opium inflicteth. Fortunate
are they who never even speak the name of it; then
think how wretched is the user.
O ye lovers of God! In this, the cycle of Almighty God,
violence and force, constraint and oppression, are one and
all condemned. It is, however, mandatory that the use of
opium be prevented by any means whatsoever, that perchance
the human race may be delivered from this most
powerful of plagues. And otherwise, woe and misery to
whoso falleth short of his duty to his Lord.
O Divine Providence! Bestow Thou in all things purity
and cleanliness upon the people of Bahá. Grant that they be
freed from all defilement, and released from all addictions.
Save them from committing any repugnant act, unbind
them from the chains of every evil habit, that they may live
pure and free, wholesome and cleanly, worthy to serve at
Thy Sacred Threshold and fit to be related to their Lord.
Deliver them from intoxicating drinks and tobacco, save
them, rescue them, from this opium that bringeth on madness,
suffer them to enjoy the sweet savours of holiness, that
they may drink deep of the mystic cup of heavenly love and
know the rapture of being drawn ever closer unto the
Realm of the All-Glorious. For it is even as Thou hast said:
`All that thou hast in thy cellar will not appease the thirst of
my love--bring me, O cup-bearer, of the wine of the spirit
a cup full as the sea!'
O ye, God's loved ones! Experience hath shown how
greatly the renouncing of smoking, of intoxicating drink,
and of opium, conduceth to health and vigour, to the
expansion and keenness of the mind and to bodily strength.
There is today a people
who strictly avoid tobacco, intoxicating
liquor and opium. This people is far and away
superior to the others, for strength and physical courage, for
health, beauty and comeliness. A single one of their men
can stand up to ten men of another tribe. This hath proved
true of the entire people: that is, member for member, each
individual of this community is in every respect superior to
the individuals of other communities.
Make ye then a mighty effort, that the purity and
sanctity which, above all else, are cherished by `Abdu'l-Bahá,
shall distinguish the people of Bahá; that in every
kind of excellence the people of God shall surpass all other
human beings; that both outwardly and inwardly they
shall prove superior to the rest; that for purity, immaculacy,
refinement, and the preservation of health, they shall be
leaders in the vanguard of those who know. And that by their
freedom from enslavement, their knowledge, their self-control,
they shall be first among the pure, the free and the wise.
1. [Qur'án 25:50]
2. [cf. John 3:5]
3. [cf. Qur'án 39:57]
4. [Possibly `Abdu'l-Bahá was referring to the Sikhs; the description appears to apply to them.]