Prevention and Control of Drug and Substance Abuse: A Baha'i Perspective
The Baha'i International Community, comprising Baha'i communities in over 140 independent countries, and representing a cross-section of humanity of more than 2000 ethnic backgrounds, with a membership of over 3 million children, youth and adults of both sexes, lives by the principles and teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, the Founder of the Baha'i Faith.
One of these laws is the "total abstinence from all alcoholic drinks, from opium, and from similar habit-forming drugs." This interdiction has been further elaborated in several passages from the Baha'i Writings, quoted below:
- The drinking of wine is, according to the text of the Most Holy Book, forbidden, for it is the cause of chronic disease, weakeneth the nerves, and consumeth the mind....Verily, it hath been forbidden unto every believer, whether man or woman.
- As to the question of opium, disgusting and execrated....the formal text of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas [Bahá'u'lláh's Book of Laws] forbids and reproves it and, according to reason, its use leads to madness. Experience has shown that he who giveth himself up to it is completely excluded from the world of humanity. Let us take refuge in God against the perpetration of so shameful a thing, which is the destruction of the foundations of humanity and which causeth a perpetual unhappiness. It taketh possession of the soul of man, killeth the reason, weakeneth the intelligence, maketh a living man dead and extinguisheth the natural heat. It is impossible to imagine anything more pernicious. Happy is he who never mentioneth the word opium! But what is the fate of those who make use of it!
- Regarding hashish....this is the worst of all intoxicants, and its prohibition is explicitly revealed. Its use causeth the disintegration of thought and the complete torpor of the soul. Alcohol consumeth the mind and causeth man to commit acts of absurdity, but....this wicked hashish extinguisheth the mind, freezeth the spirit, petrifieth the soul, wasteth the body and leaveth man frustrated and lost.
- Baha'is should not use hallucinogenic agents, including LSD, peyote and similar substances, except when prescribed for medical treatment. Neither should they become involved in experiments with such substances.
- Concerning the so-called "spiritual" virtues of the hallucinogens ....spiritual stimulation should come from turning one's heart to Bahá'u'lláh and not through physical means such as drugs and agents....
- Hallucinogenic agents are a form of intoxicant. As the friends, including the youth, are required to strictly abstain from all forms of intoxicants, and are further expected conscientiously to obey the civil law of their country, it is obvious that they should refrain from using these drugs....A very great responsibility for the future peace and well-being of the world is borne by the youth of today.
Today Baha'is in over 111,000 worldwide centers are committed to the law of their Faith that forbids the use of alcoholic beverages, opium, and other habit-forming drugs. A very simple and logical explanation to this prohibition can be found in the great importance which Baha'i communities attach to the development and protection of the human mind. Anything that deadens human consciousness or impairs a person's capacity to develop not only a "high resolve" and an "excellent character," but also "the breadth of his learning" and "his ability to solve difficult problems," all for the noblest human aim of service to the common good, is strictly forbidden.
As may be seen, Baha'i communities are already making an important contribution to the work of the United Nations in the prevention and control of drug and substance abuse, through the commitment of Baha'is who are implementing in their lives the values and standards of their Faith. Baha'is also actively participate, whenever they find opportunity, in drug education programs. Further, since they believe that religion and science must be in harmony, as facets of one reality, it is now possible to add to the logical explanations found in the Baha'i Writings for the prohibition of alcohol and drugs, scientific evidence, mounting every year in quantity and depth, establishing persuasively the damage done to the human body, and consequently to the human consciousness, by the use of such substances.