by Anne Furlong
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Bahá'í Faith is a world religion, whose purpose
is to unite the peoples of the world
in the common cause of carrying forward an ever-advancing civilization.
The scriptures of all the world's religions have promised a future
when peace and harmony will be established on earth. Bahá'ís
believe that Bahá'u'lláh is the Promised One of
all the religions, whose teachings will enable humanity to build
this promised world.
born in 1817 in Iran, is the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í
Faith. Two aspects of his life are exceptional: the suffering
he endured, and the influence of his writings on people's hearts
and minds. Born into a noble family, he dedicated his youth to
helping the oppressed, the sick and the poor. In his early 20's,
Bahá'u'lláh began to preach the Message of God for
this day. He was bitterly persecuted, cast into prison, and sent
into exile. During the 40 years of his exile and persecution,
and for over a century since, his writings, teachings and spirit
have changed the lives of millions of people.
Teachings of the Bahá'í Faith
teachings, beliefs and practices of the Bahá'í Faith
all revolve around unity.
first "unity" that Bahá'u'lláh teaches
is the unity of God. Bahá'ís believe that there
is one God, Who has created humanity out of love for us. From
the beginning of creation, God made a covenant with humanity.
According to this covenant, God never leaves humanity without
guidance. From time to time, humanity turns away from God, forgetting
His teachings; then God sends His Messengers for humanity's salvation.
To listen to them is to listen to God.
Bahá'u'lláh teaches the unity of humanity. Although
individuals differ physically, emotionally, and psychologically,
we all belong to the one race, the one human family. Bahá'ís
are dedicated to the advancement of the unity of the human family,
and to overcoming the barriers between people - colour, nationality,
culture, religion and sex. The third central teaching of the Bahá'í
Faith is the unity of religion. Bahá'u'lláh teaches
that the purpose of religion is "to liberate the children
of men from the darkness of ignorance", "to ensure the
peace and tranquillity" of humanity, and to provide the means
by which these can be established. All the world's religions have
been given to humanity by God at times when human beings set their
faces against God. Religion leads humanity back to God. Bahá'ís
say that the various religions are one, but they do not mean that
the creeds are the same. Instead, they believe that the world's
great religions are expressions of a single, unfolding Divine
purpose of this plan is to enable the human soul - "a sign
of God, a heavenly gem" - to reach the source of its happiness.
This journey begins in this life; but the spirit is eternal, and
continues to progress after the death of the body. Each soul is
noble from birth, and throughout life prepares for the world to
come by developing its unique capacities and virtues. The spirit
that has walked in the ways of God will be gathered to the glory
of the Beloved One, and becomes a source of creative power and
inspiration for the advancement of humanity.
are over 7 million Bahá'ís in virtually every country
and territory in the world, and from every major cultural and
ethnic group. All these Bahá'ís share a common set
of beliefs, which flow from the central teachings of unity. Some
of the most important are the independent investigation of the
truth, the equality of women and men, and the harmony of science
and religion. Bahá'ís must entirely avoid alcohol,
gambling, non-medicinal use of drugs, and backbiting. They pray
in the morning and evening, and read the Bahá'í
scriptures. Bahá'ís are expected to maintain the
highest personal standards of trustworthiness, honesty, kindliness,
are no Bahá'í churches. Instead, the members of
the local community gather for community worship at the beginning
of each Bahá'í month. They pray, and read from the
scriptures of the Bahá'í Faith; they consult on
the community's affairs; and then socialize over refreshments.
the last month of the Bahá'í year, Bahá'ís
from the age of 15 to 70 neither eat nor drink between sun-up
and sun-down. This 19-day fast ends on March 21, the first day
characteristic of the Bahá'í Faith is the complete
absence of clergy. The affairs of the community are administered
by elected bodies called Spiritual Assemblies. These are elected
at the local and national levels every year by a free vote, without
nominations or campaigning, among all the believers. The international
governing body of the Bahá'í Faith is called the
Universal House of Justice, located in Haifa, Israel; it is elected
every 5 years. Decisions are reached through consultation, a unique
method of decision-making that promotes unity and the discovery
of truth. The institutions of the Bahá'í Faith,
individuals and families, all make decisions in this way.
family, as the basic unit of society, is held in the highest regard
by Bahá'ís. Bahá'u'lláh encourages
people to marry, and to have children. Sexual relations are considered
the gift of God for the creation of children, and for the expression
of love between husband and wife. Children are deeply loved, and
the education of children, particularly girls, receives the highest
Spirit of God
all, Bahá'ís cherish the nobility of the human spirit
and reverence the beauty of God's creation; they see the Spirit
of God in all the religions of the world, and they trust in God's
promises. Love of God and love of His creation are one and the
same, expressed in service to all humanity.
Furlong is a member of the Baha'í Faith and lives in Prince
Edward Island. To learn more the Bahá'í Community
of Prince Edward Island call 566-3707, 1-800-433-3284 (toll-free),
or visit www.bahai.org.
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