B Bahá'í Faith and slavery
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By country or region
Opposition and resistance
Bahá’u’lláh formally abolished the practice of slavery among Baha’is in the Kitab-i-Aqdas (ca. 1873). The English translation of the relevant section is as follows:
It is forbidden you to trade in slaves, be they men or women. It is not for him who is himself a servant to buy another of God's servants, and this hath been prohibited in His Holy Tablet. Thus, by His mercy, hath the commandment been recorded by the Pen of justice. Let no man exalt himself above another; all are but bondslaves before the Lord, and all exemplify the truth that there is none other God but Him. He, verily, is the All-Wise, Whose wisdom encompasseth all things.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 45)
In his letter to Queen Victoria, written to her between 1868 and 1872, Bahá’u’lláh had singled out the action of the British government in using its power to stamp out the world trade in slaves for particular commendation.
We have been informed that thou hast forbidden the trading in slaves, both men and women. This, verily, is what God hath enjoined in this wondrous Revelation. God hath, truly, destined a reward for thee, because of this.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 30)
In 1844, when the Báb declared his mission, slavery was still very widespread. When the Báb went on the Hajj pilgrimage in 1844, he was accompanied by Quddús and an Ethiopian slave. The family the Báb was born into possessed several slaves: one was his first tutor, and the subject of a eulogy penned by his young pupil/master in later years, crediting him as having raised him and praises him. The Báb was martyred in 1850, at which time he had not abrogated or changed the laws of Islam that permitted and regulated the practice. Slavery was not finally abolished in Iran until 1929.[note 1] For comparison though slavery had been abolished in the British Empire as late as 1833,[note 2] it remained legal in the United States until 1863.[note 3]
Nor was slavery immediately abolished among followers of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.
The household in which Bahá’u’lláh was raised also included a number of slaves. He became the owner of these on the death of his father, whereupon he gave each of them the choice of remaining in his service as free servants, or leaving. saying "How, then, can this thrall claim for himself ownership of any other human being? Nay,…."
All of them chose to take up their freedom in full and leave his household, except one called Isfandíyár, who remained a loyal servant, and later a well known follower, of Bahá’u’lláh.