A Bahá’í reflection for World Malaria Day

This post from Dr. Katharine Kripke is part of a larger blog series on faith and the fight against malaria ahead of World Malaria Day. Get involved in Faith at ONE’s “Shine a Light on Malaria” campaign on their website.

Bahai photo
Photo credit: Dr. Katharine Kripke

“Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering…”
-Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh CXXX

These words come from Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’i Faith. Since becoming a Bahá’í 16 years ago, this counsel has guided me. I have gradually become empowered to apply the Bahá’í principles in service to others, not only in my personal life and my community, but also in my professional work in public health. I believe that each of us yearns to be of service to others, but many of us don’t know where to start. We feel helpless in the face of the breadth and urgency of the problems facing the world today. I hope that the Bahá’í teachings will inspire and empower more people to shine a light on malaria and the many problems afflicting the world today.

Bahá’ís believe that our lives on this earth serve a two-fold and interrelated purpose: to know and worship God, and to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. Thus, the Bahá’í teachings serve not only to uplift and advance our spiritual lives, but also to guide human civilization to fundamental unity. In a harmonious, unified and just society, every human being is seen as a noble creation of God. Once we recognize that each of us was created noble, we have no choice but to treat our fellow human beings with justice and compassion. Bahá’u’lláh also teaches us to view all of humanity as an organic body: when one limb or organ is in distress, the entire body suffers. If we believe in this unity, we can’t sit idly by when so many people are dying every year from malaria, a preventable and treatable disease.

With unity and inclusiveness in mind, the Bahá’í Faith encourages communities to take ownership of their problems and devise practical, culturally appropriate, and sustainable solutions. Bahá’ís employ a consultative approach in which a group of people leverages the diverse perspectives, knowledge and experience of each of its members to come to agreement on a course of action that will benefit the entire community. Bahá’í teachings have been implemented in Uganda and Kenya, for example, in training projects for community health and malaria education workers.

“Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements,” Bahá’u’lláh encourages us in Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh CVI. The age we live in demands that we evaluate the needs of humanity, as it is only through service to others that we can fulfill the purpose of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation.

Please join ONE this World Malaria Day to mobilize your faith community to “Shine a Light on Malaria” and take action to save lives. Together, we can show that people of all faiths care about our neighbors suffering from malaria, and provide the lifesaving resources required to eliminate malaria deaths. Download the World Malaria Day Action Guide at www.one.org/faith to get started today!

Dr. Katharine Kripke is a Bahá’í living in Washington, DC, and has been working on HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis for 20 years.