Does the desire for prosperity conflict with religious values?
Answer: The desire for
prosperity/wealth is entirely compatible with religious values.
Prosperity or wealth are necessary to provide for one’s family and
oneself, to perform acts of charity for the relief of the poor and
unfortunate, to promote the interests and institutions of the Bahá’í
Faith, and to administer socio-economic projects that will benefit both
developing and developed nations.
Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), the Prophet-Founder of the youngest of the
world’s religions, advises that wealth is actually necessary for the
responsible person, once maturity is attained. The inference here is
that the immature person can squander wealth or harm himself or others
by misusing it: “Having attained the stage of fulfilment and reached
his maturity, man standeth in need of wealth, and such wealth as he
acquireth through crafts or professions is commendable and praiseworthy
in the estimation of men of wisdom … ” (Tablets, p. 34).
However, to be of lasting benefit, material means must rest firmly on
moral and spiritual principles. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921), the son,
successor and interpreter of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings, advised: “Until
material achievements, physical accomplishments and human virtues are
reinforced by spiritual perfections, luminous qualities and
characteristics of mercy, no fruit or result shall issue therefrom, nor
will the happiness of the world of humanity, which is the ultimate aim,
be attained” (Selections, p. 283). History confirms this assertion.
In 1996, the Bahá’í International Community’s Office of Public
Information at the United Nations issued “The Prosperity of Humankind,”
an incisive statement that explored ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s claim. Rejecting
purely materialistic approaches to development, the authors maintained:
“It is unrealistic to imagine that the vision of the next stage in the
advancement of civilization can be formulated without a searching
re-examination of the attitudes and assumptions that currently underlie
approaches to social and economic development” (p. 5). -