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What's It Like to be a Bahá’í?
One of the most important obligations for Bahá'ís is daily prayer, in order to maintain a close relationship with God. There are a total of nineteen feast days in the Bahá'í calendar, each named for one of God’s attributes (Sovereignty, Splendor, Power, etc.), as well as holy days honoring various important events in the lives of the founders of the Faith. Each feast and holy day is celebrated with gatherings that include readings, music, prayer, and fellowship. Other obligations include fasting, pioneering (or missionary work), and organized educational gatherings, known as “deepenings.”
The Bahá'í concept of progressive revelation means that we embrace all the well-
known religions of the world, with each divinely inspired Prophet, or Manifestation, bringing a somewhat expanded and more advanced revelation, suited for the time and place in which it was provided. Specific religious social teachings (dietary restrictions, for example) could be revoked by a subsequent Manifestation, so that a more appropriate requirement for the current time and place could be established. On the other hand, general principles like charity or neighborliness are universal and consistent across the centuries and cultures.
Doctrines of racism, nationalism, caste, social class, and clerical or gender-based hierarchy are barriers to unity. Bahá'í teachings state that unifying humanity is the most important objective in eliminating the religious, social, and political turbulence of the modern era. Each Bahá’í Community elects a Local Spiritual Assembly, consisting of nine adult members, that carries out the affairs of the comunity. The LSA has full jurisdiction over all Bahá’í activities and affairs within its locality. Its duties include directing the expansion and consolidation of the community through teaching and regularly scheduled outreach; mobilizing members in observing the Nineteen-Day Fast; and organizing commemorations of Bahá’í Holy Days.
World Peace and the New World Order
"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. Exert yourselves that ye may attain this transcendent and most sublime station, the station that can ensure the protection and security of all mankind."
"The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Baha’u'llah, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded ...
"National rivalries, hatreds, and intrigues will cease, and racial animosity and prejudice will be replaced by racial amity, understanding and cooperation. The causes of religious strife will be permanently removed, economic barriers and restrictions will be completely abolished, and the inordinate distinction between classes will be obliterated." – World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 203
Independent, Individual Investigation of Truth
"The principles of the
Teachings of Baha’u'llah
should be carefully studied,
one by one, until they are realized
and understood by mind and heart
— so will you become strong followers of
the light, truly spiritual, heavenly soldiers of God,
acquiring and spreading the true civilization…"
"…every individual member of humankind is exhorted and commanded to set aside superstitious beliefs, traditions and blind imitation of ancestral forms in religion and investigate reality for himself. Inasmuch as the fundamental reality is one, all religions and nations of the world will become one through investigation of reality.
The Principle of Ever-Advancing Civilization
"The Purpose of the one true God, exalted be His glory, in revealing
Himself unto men is to lay bare those gems that lie hidden within the
mine of their true and inmost selves. That the diverse communions of the
earth, and the manifold systems of religious belief, should never be
allowed to foster the feelings of animosity among men, is, in this Day,
of the essence of the Faith of God and His Religion. These principles
and laws, these firmly-established and mighty systems, have proceeded from
one Source, and are the rays of one Light. That they differ one from another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated."
"Having created the world and all that liveth and moveth therein, He, through the direct operation of His unconstrained and sovereign Will, chose to confer upon man the unique distinction and capacity to know Him and to love Him—a capacity that must needs be regarded as the generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation….
"Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty." – Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 65
Universal Compulsory Education
"Education is essential and all standards of training and teaching throughout the world of mankind should be brought into conformity and agreement; a universal curriculum should be established and the basis of ethics be the same."
"Why has God sent the Prophets? It is self-evident that the Prophets are the Educators of men and the Teachers of the human race. They come to bestow universal education upon humanity, to give humanity training, to uplift the human race from the abyss of despair and desolation and to enable man to attain the apogee of advancement and glory. The people are in darkness; the Prophets bring them into the realm of light. They are in a state of utter imperfection; the Prophets imbue them with perfections. The purpose of the prophetic mission is none other than the education and guidance of the people."
"…know ye that in God’s sight, the best of all ways to worship Him is to educate the children and train them in all the perfections of humankind;
and no nobler deed than this can be imagined."
Universal Auxiliary Language
"Bahá'u'lláh has proclaimed the adoption of a universal language. A language shall be agreed upon by which unity will be established in the world. Each person will require training in two languages, his native tongue and the universal auxiliary form of speech. This will facilitate intercommunication and dispel the misunderstandings which the barriers of language have occasioned in the world."
– adapted from "Bahá'í Teachings for a World Faith, 1943
"The greatest means of progress towards [world unity] will be a common language. It will make the whole world one home and become the strongest impulse for human advancement. It will upraise the standard of the oneness of humanity. It will make the earth one universal commonwealth.
It will be the cause of love
between the children of men.
It will cause good fellowship
between the various races."
Obedience to Government and
Non-Involvement in Partisan Politics
Unless Submission to Law Amounts to Denial of the Faith
"It is not the practice of Bahá'í institutions or individuals to take positions on the political decisions of governments. One of the greatest obstacles to progress is the tendency of Bahá'ís to be drawn into the general attitudes and disputes that surround them. The central importance
of the principle of avoidance of politics and controversial matters is that Bahá'ís should not allow themselves to be involved in the disputes of the many conflicting elements of
the society around them.
"The aim of the Bahá'ís is to reconcile viewpoints,
to heal divisions, and to bring about tolerance
and mutual respect among men, and this aim is undermined if we allow ourselves to be swept
along by the ephemeral passions of others. This does not mean that Bahá'ís cannot collaborate with any non-Bahá'í movement; it does mean that good judgment is required to distinguish those activities and associations which are beneficial and constructive from those which are divisive."
– Letter from the Universal House of Justice to an Egyptian believer (12 January 2003), on the responsibility of Bahá’ís to stand up and be counted alongside others who are promoting universal human rights.
Elimination of Extremes of
Wealth and Poverty
"O CHILDREN OF DUST!
Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth. To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues."
"O YE RICH ONES ON EARTH!
The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye
My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.
"O SON OF PASSION!
Cleanse thyself from the defilement of riches and in perfect peace advance into the realm of poverty; that from the wellspring of detachment thou mayest quaff the wine of immortal life."
WHAT BAHÁ’ÍS BELIEVE
WHAT BAHÁ’ÍS BELIEVE