Bahai Environmental Groups? They Integrate Faith and Sustainability

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Baha’i: 7 million

The Baha’i Faith and the Environment

Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change volume 5:
Social and Economic Dimensions of Global Environmental Change

by Richard M. Landau, B.A., M.A.Volume ed. Peter Timmerman, series ed. R.E. Munn
John Wiley and Sons, 2002

table of contents online at

The Baha’i Faith, which was founded in 1863, is the world’s second most geographically widespread religion with more than 6 million adherents living throughout the world’s nations, territories, islands and outposts. Following the example and teachings of their prophet-founder Baha’u’llah (AD 1817-1892), the world’s Baha’is consider themselves to be the citizens of one country. Baha’is regard the world as one organic unity.

The Interconnectedness of Humanity and the EarthThe Baha’i view on environmental conservation and sustainable development holds that: a) because the natural universe is a reflection of the majestic qualities and attributes of the Supreme Being, it inspires and should be accorded the utmost respect; b) all of creation is interconnected; c) that the unity of humanity is the essential truth and compelling force in this age. Of this, Baha’u’llah wrote: “The earth is but one county, and mankind its citizens.”[3]

The concepts of world citizenship, prudent stewardship of the earth, and the interconnectedness of all things is the essence of the Baha’i Faith.

Abdu’l Baha (tr. Servant of the Glory), the son of Baha’u’llah amplified this point:

For every part of the universe is connected with every other part by ties that are very powerful and admit of no imbalance, nor any slackening whatever. . .[4]

In another reference, he remarked:

Cooperation and reciprocity are essential properties which are inherent in the unified system of the world of existence, and without which the entire creation would be reduced to nothingness.[5]

At the very heart of the Baha’i view of the relationship between humanity and the natural universe is the belief that all of creation is an expression of the many names and attributes of an all-powerful God. Like the many different attributes of God, the natural realm has diverse “causes” or ideal environments in which it flourishes and expresses itself. Life is tenacious and can adapt itself to such diverse climates as polar, temperate, tropical and desert.

Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world.[6]

Every man of discernment, while walking upon the earth, feeleth indeed abashed, inasmuch as he is fully aware that the thing which is the source of his prosperity, his wealth, his might, his exaltation, his advancement and power is, as ordained by God, the very earth which is trodden beneath the feet of all men. There can be no doubt that whoever is cognisant of this truth, is cleansed and sanctified from all pride, arrogance, and vainglory. . .[7]

Yet, while nature is seen as the repository of the many attributes of God, Baha’is are not pantheists. They do not worship nature or hold it in high esteem for its own sake. The natural realm exists to serve a humanity that has as its task the carrying forward of an ever-evolving divinely ordained world order that will usher in universal peace and harmony. As such, Baha’is believe that humanity must act as a wise steward of the natural realm, though neither nature nor humanity is at the core of the universal design. Rather, it is God.

The Environmental Challenge & Solutions

According to the Baha’i International Community, the unfettered exploitation of planetary natural resources is one symptom of a “sickness of the human spirit”. Thus, any lasting solution to the environmental and developmental challenges will need to recognize the spiritual nature of each human, the interdependency of all humans, and their relationship with the environment. In other words, development will need to be more than simply for short-term economic advantage; it must also further and benefit the minds and spirits of all humanity.

And they have a pretty aggressive approach to Environmental Issues:

 First the requisite pretty pictures:


This is their temple in New Dehli and a Tree Planting project by devotees nearby.

The site provides these links:

For more information see the Baha’i on-line newsletter, ‘One Country’, ‘Reshaping God’s holy mountain’

Examples of Baha’i development projects are described on their web-site

Background information on Baha’i ecology is available on the One Country on-line newsletter Environment Stories section.

Other sites I found online:

One World, One Life, Protect God’s Mountain


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