Spiritual and Moral Education of Children
One of the greatest principles of the Bahá’í Faith, and most ardent activities of the Bahá’í community, is the spiritual education of children. This was a frequent theme of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s addresses in America—including at one of the very first events He attended after His arrival in the United States.
The photograph of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with a girl was taken on the front porch of His house in the Holy Land, some years after His return from the West.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke at gatherings of children on both coasts and in the Midwest. One woman who attended a gathering of children in Oakland, California at which He spoke, later wrote,
“When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had finished speaking my heart was filled with happiness and warm love for Him. We departed with the lingering memory of the Master’s words, spoken in His soft, beautiful voice, so kindly uttering His instructions to us.”
(Ramona Allen Brown, “Memories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá” p. 61)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá attended a children’s gathering in Washington D.C. on April 24, 1912, and then said to their parents:
“Today illumined and spiritual children are gathered in this meeting. They are the children of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of heaven is for such souls as these, for they are near to God. They have pure hearts. They have spiritual faces. The effect of the divine teachings is manifest in the perfect purity of their hearts. That is why Christ has addressed the world, saying, ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ — that is, men must become pure in heart to know God… .
“I pray in behalf of these children and beg confirmation and assistance for them from the Kingdom of Abha so that each one may be trained under the shadow of the protection of God, each may become like a lighted candle in the world of humanity, a tender and growing plant in the rose garden of Abha; that these children may be so trained and educated that they shall give life to the world of humanity; that they may receive insight; that they may bestow hearing upon the people of the world; that they may sow the seeds of eternal life and be accepted in the threshold of God; that they may become characterized with such virtues, perfections and qualities that their mothers, fathers and relatives will be thankful to God, well pleased and hopeful. This is my wish and prayer.”
(The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 53; 2007 edition, pp. 72-73)
In His writings, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had given similar stress to the importance of the education of children in spirituality and morality:
“Children are even as a branch that is fresh and green; they will grow up in whatever way ye train them. Take the utmost care to give them high ideals and goals, so that once they come of age, they will cast their beams like brilliant candles on the world, and will not be defiled by lusts and passions in the way of animals, heedless and unaware, but instead will set their hearts on achieving everlasting honour and acquiring all the excellences of humankind.”
(Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 136)
Bahá’í communities in many parts of the United States offer free children’s and youth classes. Please call 1-800-22UNITE (1-800-228-6483) and ask for contact information in your area.