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The Bahá'í Faith A Brief Introduction Designed by lu. Ca Design www. lucadesign. ca
Purpose of Religion The purpose of religion as revealed from the heaven of God's holy Will is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife. The religion of God and His divine law are the most potent instruments and the surest of all means for the dawning of the light of unity amongst men. (Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 129)
What is the Bahá'í Faith? The Bahá'í Faith is the most recent of the world's independent religions Its founder, Bahá'u'lláh (1817 -1892), is regarded by Bahá'ís as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad
Sect, cult or new religion? It is not a cult, a reform movement or sect within any other faith, nor merely a philosophical system. Neither does it represent an attempt to create a new religion syncretistically by bringing together different teachings chosen from other religions. In the words of Arnold Toynbee: The Bahá’í Faith is an independent religion on a par with Islam, Christianity, and the other recognized world religions. The Bahá’í Faith is not a sect of some other religion; it is a separate religion, and it has the same status as the other recognized religions.
Facts about the Bahá'í Faith • Founded in 1844 • The Bahá’í Faith is today among the fastest-growing of the world’s religions • More than five million followers from more than 2, 100 ethnic, racial, and tribal groups • In virtually every nation on earth • Second-most widespread faith • Surpassing every religion but Christianity in its geographic reach
Who was Bahá'u'lláh? • His given name was Husayn-`Ali • Bahá'u'lláh means "The Glory of God" in Arabic • Ancestry from great dynasties of Iran's imperial past • Bahá'u'lláh led a princely life as a young man, receiving an education that focused largely on horsemanship, swordsmanship, calligraphy and classic poetry
Who was Bahá'u'lláh? • He came from royalty but turned His back on the position at court which these advantages offered • He became known for His generosity and kindliness • This privileged position did not long survive Bahá'u'lláh's announcement of support for the message of the Báb • Waves of violence were unleashed upon the Bábis and Bahá'u'lláh suffered not only the loss of all His worldly endowments but was subjected to imprisonment, torture, and a series of banishments
The route of Bahá'u'lláh’s exiles
Description of Bahá'u'lláh "The face of him on whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one's very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow. . No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!" -E. G. Browne (Cambridge University Orientalist)
Interest in Bahá'u'lláh for here he [the student of religion] may contemplate such personalities as by lapse of time pass into heroes and demi-gods still unobscured by myth and fable; he may examine by the light of concurrent and independent testimony one of those strange outbursts of enthusiasm, faith, fervent devotion, and indomitable heroism--or fanaticism, if you will--which we are accustomed to associate with the earlier history of the human race; he may witness, in a word, the birth of a faith which may not impossibly win a place amidst the great religions of the world
Central Figures of the Bahá'í Faith The Báb & Bahá'u'lláh – Twin Manifestations 'Abdu'l-Bahá – Exemplar Shoghi Effendi – Authorized Interpreter
Central Theme of the Bahá'í Faith Humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. He Who is the Day Star of Truth beareth Me witness! So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. (Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 288) The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. (Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 153)
Basic Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh taught that there is one God whose successive revelations of His will to humanity have been the chief civilizing force in history
Three Onenesses Oneness of God Oneness of Religion Oneness of Man
All praise to the unity of God, and all honor to Him, the sovereign Lord, the incomparable and allglorious Ruler of the universe, Who, out of utter nothingness, hath created the reality of all things, Who, from naught, hath brought into being the most refined and subtle elements of His creation, and Who, rescuing His creatures from the abasement of remoteness and the perils of ultimate extinction, hath received them into His kingdom of incorruptible glory. Nothing short of His allencompassing grace, His all-pervading mercy, could have possibly achieved it. How could it, otherwise, have been possible for sheer nothingness to have acquired by itself the worthiness and capacity to emerge from its state of non-existence into the realm of being? (Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 64)
Oneness of Religion The fundamental principle enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh is that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is a continuous and progressive process, that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are complementary, that they differ only in the nonessential aspects of their doctrines, and that their missions represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society
Oneness of Man The Bahá'í Faith emphasizes the unity of humanity transcending all divisions of race, nation, gender, caste, and social class, while celebrating its diversity. Bahá'u'lláh wrote: "The world is but one country, and mankind its citizens. " A beautiful analogy of this is Bahá'u'lláh's statement that "Ye are all leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch. "
Oneness of Man Throughout the animal kingdom we do not find the creatures separated because of color. They recognize unity of species and oneness of kind. If we do not find color distinction drawn in a kingdom of lower intelligence and reason, how can it be justified among human beings, especially when we know that all have come from the same source and belong to the same household. ('Abdu'l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 34)
Main Principles of the Bahá'í Faith • • • Oneness of God Oneness of Religion Oneness of man Equality of men and women Elimination of all forms of prejudice Elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty Independent investigation of the truth Universal education Religious tolerance Harmony of science and religion A world commonwealth of nations Universal auxiliary language
Equality of Men and Women The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly. Until womankind reaches the same degree as man, until she enjoys the same arena of activity, extraordinary attainment for humanity will not be realized; humanity cannot wing its way to heights of real attainment. When the two wings. . . become equivalent in strength, enjoying the same prerogatives, the flight of man will be exceedingly lofty and extraordinary” ('Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 374)
Universal Education Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom. (Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 259)
Universal Education Training in morals and good conduct is far more important than book learning. A child that is cleanly, agreeable, of good character, well-behaved -- even though he be ignorant - is preferable to a child that is rude, unwashed, ill-natured, and yet becoming deeply versed in all the sciences and arts. The reason for this is that the child who conducts himself well, even though he be ignorant, is of benefit to others, while an ill-natured, ill-behaved child is corrupted and harmful to others, even though he be learned. If, however, the child be trained to be both learned and good, the result is light upon light. ('Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 135)
A Way of Life The purpose of life is to develop these capacities both for one's own life and for the service of humanity The way of life which Bahá'ís seek to cultivate, therefore, is one that encourages personal development Daily prayer and meditation free the soul from conditioned patterns and open it to new possibilities Bahá'u'lláh asks that Bahá'ís view service to humanity as among their highest priorities
How do Bahá'ís pray? Bahá'u'lláh explained that prayer is among the most important ways to cultivate spiritual growth and development Short obligatory prayer: I bear witness, O my God, that Thou has created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. (Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, p. 313)
Prayer for Spiritual Growth O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord. 'Abdu'l-Bahá
Bahá'í Houses of Worship
Wilmette, Illinois, United States
New Delhi, India
Panama City, Panama
Ashkhabad, Russian Turkistan
Other Spiritual Obligations • Meditate each day on the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh • Fasting (2 March to 20 March each year) Bahá'u'lláh asked that His followers spend some time each day reading the Word of God and reflecting on its meaning Bahá'ís understand that the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh are the Word of God for this age, and that such reading and meditation has a transforming effect on the soul
Historical context of the Bahá'í Faith • To assert that a religion is independent of other faiths is not to argue that it began in a religious vacuum. • Buddhism emerged from a traditional Hindu background • Christianity began within the context of Judaism • The religious matrix of the Bahá'í Faith was Islam. Much as Christianity was born out of the messianic expectations of Judaism, the religion that was to become the Bahá'í Faith arose from eschatological tensions within Islam. In the same way, however, the Bahá'í Faith is entirely independent of its parent religion.
The Bahá'í Faith – The Fulfillment of Previous Religious Dispensations For Jews: Bahá'u'lláh is the appearance of the promised "Lord of Hosts" come down "with ten thousands of saints. " Many features of Bahá'u'lláh's involuntary exile to the Land of Israel, along with other historical events during Bahá'u'lláh's life and since are seen as fulfilling numerous prophecies in the Bible. For Buddhists: Bahá'u'lláh fulfils the prophecies for the coming of "a Buddha named Maitreye, the Buddha of universal fellowship" who will, according to Buddhist traditions, bring peace and enlightenment for all humanity.
The Bahá'í Faith – The Fulfillment of Previous Religious Dispensations For Hindus: Bahá'u'lláh comes as the new incarnation of Krishna, the "Tenth Avatar" and the "Most Great Spirit. " He is "the birthless, the deathless, " the One who, "when goodness grows weak, " returns "in every age" to "establish righteousness" as promised in the Bhagavad-Gita. For Christians: Bahá'u'lláh fulfils the paradoxical promises of Christ's return "in the Glory of the Father" and as a "thief in the night. " That the Faith was founded in 1844 relates to numerous Christian prophecies.
The Bahá'í Faith – The Fulfillment of Previous Religious Dispensations For Muslims: Bahá'u'lláh fulfils the promise of the Qur'an for the "Day of God" and the "Great Announcement, " when "God" will come down "overshadowed with clouds. " They see in the dramatic events of the Bábi and Bahá'í movements the fulfillment of many traditional statements of Muhammad, which have long been a puzzle.
Bahá'u'lláh's Writings Bahá'u'lláh revealed divinely inspired passages equivalent to over 100 volumes. • Mystical Nature • Social and Ethical Teachings • Laws and Ordinances • A fearless proclamation of His message to the Kings and Rulers of the world: Napoleon III Queen Victoria Pope Pius IX the Shah of Persia the Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria
Bahá'í Involvement in the United Nations • Bahá'í representatives were present in 1945 in San Francisco at the founding of the United Nations. • In 1947, the Bahá'í communities of the United States and Canada were recognized by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) and the Bahá'í International Community (BIC) recognized by the UN DPI as an international NGO the following year. • 1970 the BIC was granted consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) • 1976 the BIC was granted consultative status with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
System of Administration There is no clergy Governing councils at the local, national and international level All of these are elected democratically without electioneering and through confidential ballot
Bahá'í election process “it is incumbent… to consider without the least trace of passion and prejudice, and irrespective of any material consideration, the names of only those who can best combine the necessary qualities of: • unquestioned loyalty • selfless devotion • a well-trained mind • recognized ability • mature experience
Source to search religious scripture Ocean - World Religions Free Research Library http: //bahai-education. org/ocean/
For more information Scholarly info: info. bahai. org General info: www. bahai. org [email protected] ca Radio Show “The Bahá’í Hour” Sundays 8 -9 am CFRU 93. 3 FM