The Secret of Divine Civilization and the Development of Iran

complex word, namely ta’assub. It is derived from the word ‘usbah meaning group. Ta’assub means the reduction of one’s identity to one’s particularistic group. In such situation, other groups are defined as strangers and enemies who can be easily treated as a mere means for the realization of the ends of one’s own group. That is why ta’assub causes people to justify all kinds of cruelty, oppression and injustice. Thus morality is only applicable to the relations within one’s own group, and is irrelevant in relation to other groups. It is evident that both national and religious forms of prejudice are the foundations of colonialism and imperial aggression. One justifies invasion, conquest and plundering of other people in the name of the holy war, while the other turns destruction, genocide and exploitation of other parts of the world as the supreme honor and virtue. The truth is that true negation of colonialism and imperialism is only possible when we unite patriotism and religiosity with the universal love of humankind and the firm belief in the equal rights of all people of the world. Otherwise, patriotism can easily be degraded to the beastly culture of aggression and colonialism. On the contrary, high endeavor, noble aspiration, enthusiastic zeal and devotion to the development of one’s country, accompanied with love and respect for the entire world, results in development of various countries and international peace. Although The Secret criticizes prejudice and identifies it, together with culture of emulation of the clerics, as the pernicious features of the culture of clerical supremacy, the same text is from the beginning to end, a call for awakening Iranian national endeavor, and an invitation to Persians to remember their glorious past, benefit from their positive traditions, and return to cultural creativity which has had frequent manifestations in the past history of Iran. One of the characteristics of The Secret is that it identifies the precondition of Iran’s economic and social development as a fundamental transformation in Iranian ethical values and normative orientation, and encourages that new culture. According to The Secret, the development of Iran requires a holistic reconstruction of political, economic, legal, and technical institutions of Iran. But the root cause of these reconstructions, The Secret believes, is an ethical, religious and intellectual transformation among Iranians. What Iran needs is not more immoral acquisition of wealth, corruption, and selfishness in Iranian society. Rather, what Iran needs is utmost endeavor, noble purposes, high aspiration, love of Iran, creative workmanship, moral orientation, purity of motive, commitment to serving society, sacrifice, true religiosity and dedication to the public interests. Throughout The Secret, ‘Abdu’l-Baha argues that true honor, authentic spiritual orientation and real welfare of individuals can only be realized by focusing all ideas and activities of people on public interests, development of Iran, and return to the past glory of Iran. One of the most important examples of the emphasis of The Secret on high endeavor for reconstruction of Iran is its attempt to awaken a historical consciousness among Iranians. In this sense, The Secret has affinity with the spirit of Ferdowsi’s epic history, Shah-Namih. Reminding Persians of the glorious past of Iran and their past exemplary role as the vanguards of culture, industry and wisdom, and contrasting that creative culture with the degradation, weakness, and backwardness of Iran of the time, is one of the most significant methods that are utilized by ‘Abdu’l-Baha to destroy the prevalent culture of idleness, corruption, selfishness, and hopelessness, and replace it with a culture of high endeavor, noble aspiration, devotion to public interests, confidence, purposefulness, planning, enthusiasm, creative work, and moral resurrection. Development of Iran requires liberty of Iranians, universal education, enthusiasm for creative work, creativity, and commitment to serve Iran and Iranians. For the realization of such culture, reform of educational system is of primary significance. This is a point that is frequently emphasized throughout The Secret. Modern education helps people to think independently, and

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