Stories about 'Abdu'l-Bahá

Mahmud: June 11 – How to engage in a profession and be detached from worldly affairs

Mahmud's Diary
June 11, 1912
New York, NY

After the morning obligatory prayers and meditation, many came to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Seekers and those with special petitions visited Him in His room. He then went into the sitting room and spoke to the visitors regarding the insincere faith and blind imitation of people of various religions and their branches, about the ultimate purpose of the Prophets and the penetrating influence of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. Before the meeting ended He was asked how to reconcile two contradictory statements in the writings: that detachment from worldly affairs is enjoined and that it is incumbent upon all to engage in a trade or profession. ‘Are not these commandments contradictory?’ The Master replied:

In the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh it is obligatory for the individual to engage in a trade or profession. For instance, I know mat weaving and you know another trade. The service we perform is equivalent to worship if we perform it with truth and trustworthiness; it is a cause of human advancement. If the heart is not bound and attached to the world, if it is unaffected by the vicissitudes of life, unhampered by worldly wealth from serving humanity and not dejected because of poverty, then it is a human perfection. Otherwise, to profess generosity if one is poor, or justice when one is powerless to extend it, is easy enough, but this will not establish one’s spiritual education and awareness.

Another asked that if, after the Master left, some of the believers considered themselves superior to others, how they could be known. The Master replied:

I have already spoken about this matter. You should, according to the saying of Christ, recognize them by their deeds. Those who relate themselves to me will be known by their deeds.