BahaiFaith

BahaiFaith - Bahá'í Faith By Joshua Randolph Some Basics...

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Unformatted text preview: Bahá'í Faith By Joshua Randolph Some Basics • • • • The name of the religion is most commonly spelled Baha'i, although alternative spellings of Ba'Hai, Bahai, Bahá'í, and Bah'ai are sometimes seen. Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith records in his book God Passes By that the religion started in Iran with "A handful of students, belonging to the Shaykhi school, sprung from the Ithna-'Ashariyyih sect of Shi`ah Islam." From that beginning in 1844, the Bahá'í Faith has expanded into the newest of the world’s main religions. Founded in the nineteenth century by the Muslim mystic Baha'u'llah, Baha'i is an offshoot of Islam that bears little resemblance to its parent religion. Baha'i is one of the most widespread religions on the planet, with between five and six million members in dozens of countries. http://www.bahainyc.org/presentations/goldenrule/golden-rule10.html http://www.bahainyc.org/presentations/goldenrule/golden-rule10.html Bahá'í membership • According to the 1992 Encyclopaedia Britannica Book of the Year, the Bahá'í Faith had established "significant communities" in more countries and territories than any other religion except for Christianity. They were organized in 205 areas worldwide vs. 254 for Christianity. According to The Baha'i World, this has since increased to 235 countries and territories, including over 2,100 racial, ethnic and tribal groups. Encyclopædia Britannica Online estimates that they had about 7.4 million members worldwide in mid-2002: – – – – – – • 1.8 million in Africa 3.6 million in Asia 0.13 million in Europe 0.91 in Latin America 0.81 in Northern America 0.12 in Oceania. The Bahá'í Faith states that it currently has about 6 million members worldwide, including about 2.5 million adherents in India and 140,000 in the US. The latter value is an increase from 75,448 adults and youth which it claimed in 1979. • • • • • • • • • • Estimates of U.S. membership data There does not appear to be any source of reliable U.S. membership data. This is very common in the field of religion. The U.S. census does not tabulate religious identification. Some estimates of Bahá'í membership is based on the entire U.S. population; others include only persons affiliated with the United States National Spiritual Assembly, which does not include Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. possessions. 1900: 2,800 members, according to The Encyclopedia Britannica 1970: 138,800 members, according to The Encyclopedia Britannica 1990: 600,000 members, according to The Encyclopedia Britannica 528,000 adult members, according to Barry Kosmin and Seymour Lachman in their 1993 book "One Nation Under God." The value was derived from Kosmin's National Survey of Religious Identification (NSRI) study of 1990. 1995: 682,000 members, according to The Encyclopedia Britannica 1998: 138,158 members, according to Robert Stockman, of the U.S. Bahá'í National Center. This included 122,920 adults, 7,212 youth and 8,036 children. 2000: 753,000 members, according to The Encyclopedia Britannica 785,262 members, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia. 2001: 84,000 adult members, according to the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS). 140,000 members: Fredrick Glaysher, a Baha'i who promotes reform within the faith, states that: "The Bahai administration regularly claims 140,000 US Bahais based on the widely known existence of actual mailing addresses for that number, many of whom though never participate in Bahai activities, being regarded as 'inactive'." 26,600 "active" adult Baha'is, according to an imaginative calculation by Glaysher. "This thing is not from Me, but the One Who is Almighty and All-Knowing. And He bade Me lift up My voice between earth and heaven..." The Bab • • http://www.physics.drexel.edu/~hoyle/India/India.html Born in 1819 Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad Shirází was a merchant in Shiraz in the south of Iran. He assumed the title Bab ("the Gate"). On May 23, 1844, in Iran, he announced the "Declaration of the Bab." He explained that the purpose of His mission, and those of his eighteen disciples whom he called the "Letters of the Living," was to herald the arrival of "One greater than Himself", who would fulfill the prophetic expectations of all the great religions. His followers became known as Babis. It is commonly believed that 20,000 were martyred for their beliefs. The movement caused much religious ferment. This led to his execution in 1850 by order of the Shah's chief minister and at the instigation of Muslim clerics, who saw his movement as a threat to orthodox Islam. He was executed on July 9th, 1850 in Tabriz, Iran. About 10,000 people were present to observe his execution. Bahá'u'lláh (Messenger of God) • In the past, God's Messengers have for the most part presented their messages to humanity by speaking or preaching; these outpourings have been recorded by others, sometimes during the Prophet's life, sometimes later, from the memory of His followers. The Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, however, Himself took up pen and paper and wrote down for humanity the revelation He received or dictated His message to believers who served as secretaries. • Baha'is view the world’s major religions as part of a single, progressive process through which God reveals His will to humanity. Baha'u'llah (whose real name is Mirza Hoseyn 'Ali Nuri), Founder of the Baha'i Faith, is the most recent in a line of divine messengers that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad. • Baha'u'llah taught that there is only one God and one human family, and that humanity is reaching its longawaited stage of maturity, when a peaceful and just world order finally can be realized. • Baha'u'llah proclaimed that God, our loving Creator, sends Divine Messengers, known as Manifestations of God, with teachings that enable humanity to know and to worship God. These great Manifestations, which have appeared throughout history at intervals of about 500 to 1,000 years, bring human civilization to ever higher levels of spiritual and material advancement "I was but a man like others, asleep upon My couch, when lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious were wafted over Me, and taught Me the knowledge of all that hath been," Bahá'u'lláh http://truebahai.com/spiritual/images/master.jpg http://truebahai.com/spiritual/images/master.jpg Arrest and Exile • • • • • After the execution of its Founder, the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh was arrested and brought, in chains and on foot, to Tehran. Influential members of the court and the clergy demanded a death sentence. Bahá'u'lláh, however, was protected by His personal reputation and the social position of His family, as well as by protests from Western embassies. Therefore, He was cast into the notorious "Black Pit," the Siyah-Chal in Persian. Authorities hoped this would result in His death. Instead, the dungeon became the birthplace for a new religious revelation. Bahá'u'lláh spent four months in the Black Pit, during which time he contemplated the full extent of His mission. Upon His release, Bahá'u'lláh was banished from His native land, the beginning of 40 years of exile, persecution. In 1856, at the urging of the exiled Bábis, Bahá'u'lláh returned to Baghdad. Under His renewed leadership, the stature of the Bábi community grew and Bahá'u'lláh's reputation as a spiritual leader spread throughout the city. Fearing that Bahá'u'lláh's acclaim would re-ignite popular enthusiasm for the movement in Persia, the Shah's government successfully pressed the Ottoman authorities to send him farther into exile. Exile • • • • In April 1863, before leaving Baghdad, Bahá'u'lláh and His companions camped in a garden on the banks of the Tigris River. From 21 April to 2 May, Bahá'u'lláh shared with those Bábis in His company that He was the Promised One foretold by the Báb--foretold, indeed, in all the world's scriptures. Beginning in September 1867, Bahá'u'lláh wrote a series of letters to the world leaders of His time, addressing, among others, Emperor Napoleon III, Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm I, Tsar Alexander II of Russia, Emperor Franz Joseph, Pope Pius IX, Sultan Abdul-Aziz, and the Persian ruler, Nasiri'd-Din Shah. In these letters, Bahá'u'lláh openly proclaimed His station. He spoke of the dawn of a new age. But first, He warned, there would be catastrophic upheavals in the world's political and social order. To smooth humanity's transition, He urged the world's leaders to pursue justice. Continued agitation from opponents caused the Turkish Government to send the exiles to Acre, a penal city in Ottoman Palestine. Acre was the end of the world, the final destination for the worst of murderers, highway robbers and political dissidents. A walled city of filthy streets and damp, desolate houses, Acre had no source of fresh water, and the air was popularly described as being so foul that over flying birds would fall dead out of the sky. The End of a Messenger • • • • • Bahá'u'lláh and His family arrived on 31 August 1868, the final stage in His long exile. He was to spend the rest of His life, 24 more years, in Acre and its environs. At first confined to a prison in the barracks, Bahá'u'lláh and His companions were later moved to a cramped house within the city's walls. The exiles, widely depicted as dangerous heretics, faced animosity from the city's other residents. Even the children, when they ventured outside, were pursued and pelted with stones. As time passed, however, the spirit of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings penetrated the bigotry and indifference. It was in Acre that Bahá'u'lláh's most important work was written. Known more commonly among Bahá'ís by its Persian name, the Kitab-i-Aqdas(the Most Holy Book), it outlines the essential laws and principles that are to be observed by His followers, and lays the groundwork for Bahá'í administration. In the late 1870s, Bahá'u'lláh was given the freedom to move outside the city's walls, and His followers were able to meet with Him in relative peace and freedom. He took up residence in an abandoned mansion and was able to further devote Himself to writing. On 29 May 1892, Bahá'u'lláh passed away. His remains were laid to rest in a garden room adjoining the restored mansion, which is known as Bahji. For Bahá'ís, this spot is the most holy place on earth. `Abdu'l-Bahá http://worldwidehoney.com/India.htm http://worldwidehoney.com/India.htm • Baha'u'llah appointed his son 'Abdu'l-Baha (1844-1921) to be leader of the movement after his death. He was to be the sole interpreter of his father's writings. In the very late 19th century, under his leadership, the faith expanded beyond the Middle East and was introduced to Europe and North America. He set out on speaking tours, visiting France and the UK in 1911, and North America, the UK, France, Germany and Hungary during 1912-12. • He lived in Haifa during World War I where he wrote his major book: "Tablets of the Divine Plan" which contained his thoughts on the worldwide expansion of the faith. Baha'is believe that his interpretations of Baha'u'llah's writings were based on his infallible understanding of the texts. Shoghi Effendi • • 'Abdu'l-Baha selected his eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi (-1957) to be his successor as the Guardian of the Cause of God -- the leader of the Bahá'í community. He dedicated his effort to a major expansion of the faith into all areas of the world. He was instrumental in bringing women into various positions of power in the religion, and overcoming local prejudices against them. He died in London, England in 1957. He did not name a successor -- a person to infallibly interpret the writings of Baha'u'llah. Administrative duties were taken over by a committee who he had called "Hands of the Cause." They were giving them the authority to lead the Baha'i Faith. Bahá'í Symbols Symbols • A simple nine-pointed star is generally used by Baha'is as a symbol of their Faith. The number nine has significance in the Baha'i Revelation. Nine years after the announcement of the Bab in Shiraz, Baha’u’llah received the intimation of His mission in the dungeon in Tehran. Nine, as the highest singledigit number, symbolizes completeness. http://www.blingdomofgod.com/bahai/ http://www.blingdomofgod.com/bahai/ • Since the Baha'i Faith claims to be the fulfillment of the expectations of all prior religions, this symbol, as used, for example, in nine-sided Baha'i Houses of Worship, reflects that sense of fulfillment and completeness. Particularly cherished by Baha'is are calligraphic forms of the word Baha (Arabic for “Glory”), known as the Greatest Name, a reference to Baha’u’llah. In this category is the above symbol which is engraved on personal rings and on buildings to establish their Baha'i identity. Symbols • The Ring Stone Symbol- The three horizontal lines represent the three basics of Baha' belief- the world of God, the World of God's manifestation, and the world of man. The vertical bar represents the connection of these worlds, and the stars flanking the glyph represent the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, the founders and prophets of the faith. • It is called the Ring Stone symbol because it is usually worn on rings by many believers. • The Greatest Name Symbol- This symbol is a phrase, "Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá," or "O Glory of the All Glorious" rendered in calligraphy. "Baha," or glory, is also found in the name of Bahá'u'lláh. It is displayed in Baha'i homes and places of Baha'I activity. Sacred Writings • The writings of Baha’u’llah are considered by members of the Baha’i religion to be the revealed Word of God. • In addition to the writings of Baha'u'llah, Baha'is also recognize as divine scripture the writings of His Herald, the Bab (Siyyid Ali Muhammad, 1819-1850); the Quran; the Old and New Testaments; and the sacred writings of Buddhism, Hinduism and Zoroastrianism. • Baha’u’llah authored thousands of books, tablets, and letters that today comprise the sacred scripture of the Baha’i Faith. A unique feature of the revelation of Baha’u’llah is the authenticity of its scripture. Unlike the teachings of Christ, for example, which were written down by others decades after they were uttered, the words of Baha’u’llah were recorded and authenticated at the time they were revealed. Baha’u’llah Writings • • • • • • • The Most Holy Book (Kitab-i-Aqdas), the chief repository of the laws and institutions that Baha’u’llah prescribed for a future world civilization The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, a collection of weighty letters that Baha’u’llah wrote to the world leaders of His time, including Emperor Napoleon III, Queen Victoria, Czar Alexander II, Pope Pius IX, and Sultan Abdul-Aziz, in which He openly proclaimed His station, announced the dawn of a new age, and warned of catastrophic upheavals if they failed to act collectively to establish a just world order. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, a compilation of representative passages on a wide variety of subjects. Prayers and Meditations, a compilation of prayers and meditations The Hidden Words, a collection of ethical aphorisms The Book of Certitude (Kitab-i-Iqan), Baha’u’llah's principal doctrinal work, which lays out the entire panorama of the Divine purpose in human history The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys, the best known of Baha’u’llah's mystical writings http://www.glonet.co.nz/teecee/faiths/bahaifaith/bahaifaith1_files/Abdu'l-Baha-Name.jpg http://www.glonet.co.nz/teecee/faiths/bahaifaith/bahaifaith1_files/Abdu'l-Baha-Name.jpg Beliefs • the purpose of life is to know and worship God, to acquire virtues, to promote the oneness of mankind and to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization • all humanity was created by one God and is part of one human race • work performed in the spirit of service is a form of worship • the soul, created at the moment of conception, is destined by God to reach the afterlife, where it will continue to progress until it attains the presence of God Sacraments and Rituals • • • http://www.flickr.com/photos/frackers23/295658602/ In the Bahá'í Faith there are no initiation ceremonies, no clergy, and no sacraments. The Bahá'í Faith places great importance on the relationship with God, but not on religious ritual. Bahá'ís have no priesthood or clergy, no initiation ceremonies, no sacraments, and no worship rituals. The practices that are required of Bahá'ís are related more to everyday life than to rituals at the temple. Every Bahá'í is to pray daily, abstain from alcohol and other mind-affecting substances; to practice monogamy; to obtain the consent of parents to marriage; and to attend the Nineteen Day Feast on the first day of each month of the Bahá'í calendar. Prayer and Holidays http://www.bcca.org/bahaivision/hows/index.htm http://www.bcca.org/bahaivision/hows/index.htm • Bahá'u'lláh wrote hundreds of prayers for a variety of situations, such as for general use, for healing, for spiritual growth, for facing difficulties, for marriage, for community life, and for humanity. • Bahá'u'lláh also asked His followers to choose one of three obligatory prayers for recitation each day. • There are nine annual Bahá'í holy days and an annual fast. With the exception of New Year, Bahá'í holidays commemorate major events in the lives of the founders of the Bahá'í Faith. On holy days, Bahá'ís do not work and this is considered a sacrifice. • Two further special days are celebrated, but they are not considered holy days in that work is not suspended. These are for Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh's eldest son and appointed successor. They are not celebrated as holy days because he held himself to be nothing more than his Father's servant, and would never have agreed to anything that put him on an equal footing with Bahá'u'lláh. Holidays Continued •The Bahá‘ ís use a calendar established by the Báb and confirmed by Bahá'u'lláh, in which the year is divided into 19 months of 19 days each, with the addition of 4 intercalary days (5 in leap years). http://bulletin.zefrank.com/showthread.php?t=7783&page=4 • • March 2-21 - Nineteen Day Fastdedicated to the Fast. During this time, Baha'is between 15 and 70 years of age do not eat or drink for 19 days from sunrise to sunset and set aside time for prayer and meditation. Exemptions from the Fast occur for illness, pregnancy, nursing mothers, extended travel and arduous physical labor. March 21 - Naw-Rúz - The Baha’i New Year’s Day is astronomically fixed to begin the year on the spring equinox. Naw-Rúz is one of the nine holy days of the year when work is suspended. •Festival of Ridvan (April 21-May 2): The annual Baha’i festival commemorates the 12 days (April 21-May 2, 1863) when Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith, resided in a garden called Ridvan (Paradise) in Baghdad, Iraq. At this time He publicly proclaimed His mission as God’s messenger for this age. The first (April 21), ninth (April 29) and twelfth (May 2) days are celebrated as holy days when work is suspended. • Holidays Continued 1844, when the May 23 - Declaration of the Báb - Baha’i commemorates May 23, Bab, the prophet-herald of the Baha’i Faith, announced in Shiraz, Persia, that he was the herald of a new messenger of God. • May 29 - Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh - Baha’is observe the anniversary of the death in exile of Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith, on May 29, 1892. • July 9 - Martyrdom of the Báb - The holy day commemorates the anniversary of the execution of the Bab (Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad), the prophet-herald of the Baha’i Faith, by a firing squad on July 9, 1850, in Tabriz, Persia. • October 20 - Birth of the Báb - The day is an observance of the anniversary of the birth on Oct. 20, 1819, in Shiraz, Persia, of Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad, who later took the title of “the Bab,” meaning “the Gate.” • November 12 - Birth of Bahá'u'lláh - Baha’is observe the anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah (born Mirza Husayn-‘Ali) on Nov. 12, 1817, in Núr, Persia. • November 26 - Day of the Covenant (work not suspended) - The festival commemorates Baha’u’llah’s appointment of his eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, as the Center of His Covenant. • November 28 - Ascension of 'Abdu'l-Bahá (work not suspended) -Baha’is observe the anniversary of the death of 'Abdu'l-Baha, son of Baha'u'llah and His appointed • • • The Universal House of Justice Bahá'ís believe that the "Administrative Order" created by Bahá'u'lláh, and built up by His successors `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, defines a pattern of cooperative decision-making and social interaction that cultivates the moral and creative capacities latent in human nature. Founded on a set of unique electoral and consultative principles that are democratic in spirit and method, the Bahá'í administrative order is organized around freely elected governing councils which operate at the local, national, and international levels. The Universal House of Justice today guides the activities of the global Bahá'í community. This body was instituted by Bahá'u'lláh Himself as the supreme legislative organ of the Bahá'í administrative order. http://info.bahai.org/universal-house-of-justice.html House of Justice Cont. • The Universal House of Justice was instituted when, in 1963, members of National Spiritual Assemblies from around the globe, in an atmosphere of deep reflection and profound devotion, elected nine individuals from among the Bahá'ís of the world as members of this institution. The occasion is considered by Bahá'ís to be, next to the appointment of Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian of the Faith, the most momentous event in the history of what is known as the "Formative Age" of the Bahá'í Faith. • Conducted by secret ballot, the Bahá'í electoral process prohibits the nomination and presentation of candidates, thereby giving maximum freedom of choice to each elector and avoiding the partisanship and powerseeking behavior so characteristic of conventional political elections. The election of the Universal House of Justice takes place every five years in the same atmosphere of spirituality and dedication. • As stipulated by Bahá'u'lláh, the Seat of the Universal House of Justice is located on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, in close proximity to the resting places of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. • According to the explicit texts of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, the legislative enactments of the Universal House of Justice have the same authority for Bahá'ís as do the sacred texts themselves. The difference is that the House of Justice has the right to repeal and alter any of its enactments as the Bahá'í community evolves and new conditions emerge, whereas the laws enshrined in the Bahá'í texts will remain unchanged. Local and National Spirit Assemblies • With the beginning of the new year (Naw Ruz) Baha’is all over the world have elected Local Spiritual Assemblies and have sent delegates to the National Baha’i Convention where the nine people are elected for the National Spiritual Assembles for each country is elected. The delegates sent are chosen again by whom the local Baha’is believe will be the best man or woman to lead the Baha’i national community. There is no politics no campaigning involved, purely a spiritual vote. • The National Spiritual Assemblies guide the LSA’s for their respective countries. They lead us in teaching the Baha’i Faith to the masses, both Baha’is and non Baha’is. The NSA’s have numerous other duties depending on the country, whether or not there is a Baha’i House of Worship or not. • These elected institutions function in accordance with the same consultative principles as the Universal House of Justice and will eventually be called "Houses of Justice." Bahá'ís believe that, while local and national Houses of Justice will be the instruments for ensuring human well-being, the decisions of the Universal House of Justice are uniquely inspired and authoritative. Bahá'u'lláh stated that God Himself has made this possible and will preserve the enactments of the Universal House of Justice from error: Practices • daily prayer and communion with God • high moral principles, including trustworthiness, chastity and honesty • independent investigation of truth • a life dedicated to the service of humanity • fellowship with the followers of all religions • avoidance of excessive materialism, partisan politics, backbiting, alcohol, drugs and gambling Social Principles • • • • • • • • equality of women and men the harmony of science and religion as two complementary systems of knowledge that must work together to advance the well being and progress of humanity the elimination of prejudice the establishment of a world commonwealth of nations recognition of the common origin and fundamental unity of purpose of all religions spiritual solutions to economic problems and the removal of economic barriers and restrictions the abolition of extremes of poverty and wealth the adoption of a world auxiliary language, a world script, and a uniform and universal system of currency and weights and measures Problems in Bahá'í • Now its already been discussed what the Bahá'í believe but to refresh they supported gender and race equality; world government; freedom of expression and assembly; world peace; religious tolerance, and religious cooperation. Also, unlike many other religions, Bahá'í’s view scientific inquiry as essential to expand human knowledge and to deepen their members' faith. They feel that science needs to be guided by spiritual principles so that its applications are beneficial to all humanity. • However, One exception to their acceptance of scientific findings is their teaching about homosexuality. Baha'u'llah rejected homosexuality. This puts the Bahá'í faith in opposition to mental health and human sexuality researchers who have reached a near consensus that a homosexual orientation is unchosen, fixed, and is normal and natural for a minority of adults. • I could not find a reason for Baha'u'llah rejecting homosexuality, but a few of the sites I have looked at have said that it is not accepted. Problems Continued • Along with that another policy which appears to contradict the faith's promotion of equality is the exclusion of all women from serving on its highest religious court, the Universal House of Justice. • According to this website the Canadian website states "The Bahá'í teachings promote the elimination of all forms of prejudice and uphold equal dignity and respect for all peoples, regardless of their racial, ethnic, religious or national background. Equality of men and women, the elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth and economic justice for all peoples, universal education, and the dignity of the individual are central Bahá'í principles." (This quote from the Canadian website was provided through one of the websites I explored I do not know the site myself or what kind of site it is) Evil and Suffering • No original sin or Satan. The human nature that God created is all good, including both animal and spiritual aspects. God also gave people free will, and some will choose to express their inherently good nature in imperfect ways. The concept of Satan in the scriptures is symbolic for humans' choice to express the lower or animal side of their nature in ways that separate them from God. Those farthest from God are most prone to wrongdoing. • All suffering, including that caused by natural disasters, are God's will as a punitive, educational, or remedial response to individual or to humanity's denial of God and disobedience to the Divine Commands. All of humanity suffer when one commits wrong, and all benefit when one does good. The best often suffer the most for humanity's misdeeds. Nonpunitive suffering is part of God's plan to challenge the soul with adversity. Suffering educates the sufferer and aids spiritual growth toward perfection. Suffering helps people to remember God in their grief. The suffering of innocents will be greatly rewarded in the world to come. The Body and Soul • • • The primary function of the soul in the physical reality is to grow spiritually by exercising moral decision-making. Basically, our job in life is to learn to choose and turn towards God. Only by having a physical mind and body can the soul have a free will and learn to make choices. The culmination of a life of proper choices is a soul that has fully developed its latent spiritual capacities. The importance of understanding the teachings on life after death cannot be over-emphasized. Only by knowing how one's souls will exist in the spiritual world can one recognize how to live in this physical reality. The truth about death teaches us how to live. According to the Bahá'í Sacred Texts, the process known as death is merely the withdrawal of the soul from the physical mind and body. During "life", the soul's powers shine upon the body (in the same way the physical sun gives its powers of light and heat to the earth). The soul never was physically connected to the body or inside the body, and therefore it doesn't leave the body upon death. Rather, at "death", the soul ceases to have contact with the body, its powers cease to shine upon the physical body and mind, and then the human mind and body simply pass away. Having dropped the veil of a physical body, the soul continues its growth in the spiritual worlds. Bahá'u'lláh’s teachings on the soul • • • • • • • • • • • • • every soul has the capacity to recognize the "signs of God" the soul is "exalted above and independent of all infirmities of body or mind" the body reflects the light of the soul, just as the earth reflects the light of the sun the soul remains "unafflicted by any bodily ailments" after separation from the body, the soul will continue to progress until it attains the presence of God the nature of the soul after death cannot be described when the soul attains the presence of God, "it will assume the form that best befitteth its immortality and is worthy of its celestial habitation" "the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men have failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel" the soul that walked in the ways of God and was faithful to the Cause of God will be refreshed and revived and will be invested with the honor "and glory of all goodly names and stations" the soul who fails to turn towards God will be "indeed as one dead" and will suffer "bound, distressed and helpless in the fetters of his desires" at death the unfaithful souls will "be made aware of the good things that have escaped them, and shall bemoan their plight, and shall humble themselves before God." faithful souls will associate and commune intimately with one another, "and shall be so closely associated in their lives, their aspirations, their aims and strivings as to be even as one soul" the holy soul will be "immortal, live the life of God, and abideth within the retreats of celestial glory upon the Sadrih of heavenly reunion." Heaven and Hell • • According to the Bahá'í Sacred Texts, the commonly held beliefs and images of heaven and hell are symbolic of a spiritual state of being. Since there is no such thing as a "place" in the spiritual world, it is certain that the soul does not go to any such place after death of the body. Rather, the soul either has developed to the point where it draws near to God (more like God) or it draws away from God (less like God). A soul that is near to God attains spiritual happiness. The typical conception of heaven with beautiful angels and gold-lined streets is symbolic of this happiness. The soul that draws away from God because it failed to adequately develop its spiritual powers, is isolated and cut off from God. The image of a soul existing within an eternal burning fire is a meaningful symbol of what it is like for a spiritual entity such as the soul to exist far from God. There is an urgent truth to the admonition that one must repent during one's lifetime to avoid having the soul consigned to hell. That is, each person must make the proper choices in his or her lifetime so that the soul will develop its spiritual capacities and be able to draw nearer to God. Nobody knows how long their physical life will last, and therefore time is of the essence. The time to grow spiritually is now. Works Cited • “Bahá'u'lláh.” 2006. 04 September, 2007. http://Bahá'u'lláh .com/index.html • The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States. 2007. 04 September, 2007. http://www.bahai.us/ • B.A. Robinson. August 05. 2007. 04 September, 2007. http://www.religioustolerance.org/bahai.htm • Jennifer Emick. About, Inc. 2007. 14 September, 2007. http://altreligion.about.com/library/faqs/bl_bahai.htm • “Bahá'í Faith”. 22 September, 2007. http://www.crystalinks.com/bahai.html • “Bahá'í Faith.” Copyright 2004­2007. 22 September, 2007. http://religionfacts.com/bahai/ • “The Universal House of Justice.” Copyright 2007, Bahá'í International Community. 05 October, 2007. http://info.bahai.org/universal­house­of­justice.html • Robert Pardon. “The Baha'i Faith.” Copyright 2000 Watchman Fellowship, Inc. 05 October, 2007. http://www.watchman.org/profile/bahaipro.htm Works Cited Continued • “Becoming a Bahá'í.” 14 September, 2007. http://www.warble.com/Bahai/BasicFacts/basic9.html • “The Fundamental Verities of the Bahá'í Teachings” 01 January, 2004. 14 September, 2007 http://truebahai.com/spiritual/index.html • “The Bahá'í Faith of Rockford, Illinois.” 15 September, 2007. http://rockfordbahai.org/ • Sandy Mullins. “National Spiritual Assemblies, NSA's.” Copyright 2007. 10 October, 2007. http://www.bellaonline.com/ArticlesP/art31276.asp “The annual Nineteen­Day Fast: a time of spiritual purification.” The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States. 2007. 11 October, 2007. http://www.bahaistudy.com/node/83 • • “What Bahá'í’s Believe” 2001. 15 November, 2007. http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8051_1.html Annotated Bibliography The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States. 2007. 04 September, 2007. http://www.bahai.us/ • A very good site to go to for Bahá'í Faith information, especially for beginners. The main page just provide links to the rest of the site, and each link has a little bit of information under it describing what it contains. It provides links to their core beliefs, prayer, devotion, and how to become a Bahá'í member. Right beside those links is another column that contains the latest news for the Bahá'í Faith community. • “Bahá'í Faith.” Copyright 2004­2007. 22 September, 2007. http://religionfacts.com/bahai/ Another good site similar to the first one in that the main page just provides links to other pages on the site. This one however provides much more information packed into it. The links discuss many topics like Bahá'í holidays, ethics, and symbols that weren’t discussed in the previous link. This link would be a fantastic site for those that are looking more for a report or project instead of looking to actually join the religion. • “The Fundamental Verities of the Bahá'í Teachings” 01 January, 2004. 14 September, 2007 http://truebahai.com/spiritual/index.html This site was last updated in 2004, but still contains a lot of valuable information on the religion. This link heads only to the index where there is a dropdown list of the links to the site. The links lead to things such as the founders of the religion, their philosophies, and life after death. One problem with this site however it is hard to maneuver around the pages, because only this main link provides the dropdown list. Reflective Commentary Reflective Commentary For my project I selected Baha I Faith based on my “Belief­o­Matic” results. It was the sixth religion on my list, but it was a religion that I had never heard of. Since I had never heard of it and it was high up on my list I figured it would be the perfect religion to research, because I could learn about a religion that I had never been introduced to and at the same time see why I was somewhat compatible with it. The Baha I Faith was founded in 1844 by Mirza Ali Muhammad (The Bab); Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri (Baha'u'llah). At the start of the religion The Bab said the he was herald to the messenger of God, and his followers were known as the “Babis.” His religious movement caused a giant uproar, which led to his execution in 1850 and Bahaullah’s imprisonment. While in prison Bahaullah received a revelation from God, and in the prison wrote down what he had been told. When released those that followed him who were once “Babi’s” became “Baha’is.” Baha’is believe that there is only one God, men and women are equal, the combination of science and religion, daily prayer, and that the soul is destined to reach God. Baha I Faith is now a world wide religion and has over 6 million members, but it could be more and is difficult to get an accurate estimate. Commentary Continued Commentary Continued I really enjoyed learning about this religion because it has many views that I agree with. First I like that they are not against science as so many cultures are, because it means that they are open to new ideas unlike many religions. Whether or not they are against evolution I don’t know, but they believe that science and religion should work together for the better of humanity. Many religions accuse of scientists of trying to play God and other things when they start cloning animals, so it’s finally nice to hear of a religion that may say the opposite on certain cases. I also in a way like their version on sin, suffering, and hell. To them Satan is not real, but more of a symbol of the ways people do things that separate themselves further from God. So, if you do not reach the path to their Heaven you will suffer, but on a bright note you won’t be cast down to a pit of fire with a man torturing you for all eternity. The last thing that I found interesting about the Baha religion was that they believe in equality for all men and women, but reject homosexuality. I don’t like how they accept every race and both sexes, but reject a person’s personal life choice. I am not entirely for homosexuality, but I am not totally against it either. This is one of the biggest flaws I found in the Baha religion. The site that I found to be the most helpful to me was www.bahai.us/. It says on the page it is the official site of the Baha I Faith, and was extremely informative. They have split everything into sections such as core beliefs, how to become a baha I, things for teens, and news going on in the Baha community. It is a very helpful site with historical information for those interested in learning, and up to date information for those who are members of Baha I Faith. ...
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BahaiFaith - Bahá'í Faith By Joshua Randolph Some Basics...

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