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The following principles are frequently listed as a quick summary of the Bahá'í teachings.
They are derived from transcripts of speeches given by `Abdu'l-Bahá during his tour of Europe and North America in 1912.
Doctrines of racism, nationalism, caste, social class, and gender-based hierarchy are seen as artificial impediments to unity.
Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the religion from 1921 to 1957, wrote the following summary of what he considered to be the distinguishing principles of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, which, he said, together with the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas constitute the bedrock of the Bahá'í Faith: The independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition; the oneness of the entire human race, the pivotal principle and fundamental doctrine of the Faith; the basic unity of all religions; the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class or national; the harmony which must exist between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of human kind is able to soar; the introduction of compulsory education; the adoption of a universal auxiliary language; the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty; the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations; the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship; the glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations; and the establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal of all mankind—these stand out as the essential elements [which Bahá'u'lláh proclaimed].
Conversely, certain general principles (for example, neighbourliness, or charity) are seen to be universal and consistent.As such, Bahá'ís regard the major religions as fundamentally unified in purpose, though varied in social practices and interpretations.