THE BAHÁ’Í FAITH

WHAT IS IT?


BASIC FACTS SERIES

The Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith is a religion followed by several million people in the world, from all countries and all backgrounds.

  • All these people believe in the unity of mankind – that all people matter, and that the world should be run as one country for the benefit of everyone.

  • They believe that it is the differences between us which make life interesting, and that we should cherish these differences, not ignore them.

  • They believe that there has only ever been one religion – the religion of God. God sent His Messengers to different places at different times so that everyone in the world could hear about Him.

  • Bahá'ís believe that there is only one God, though people may call Him by different names. God is something we can never really understand: we can only learn about Him through His creation and His Messengers.

  • Bahá'ís follow Bahá'u'lláh, the latest in a long line of Messengers sent by God to tell us how we should live and behave. The name Bahá'u'lláh means the Glory of God. Although He passed to the next world over a hundred years ago, Bahá'u'lláh wrote down everything we need to know to be able to build a better life here on earth and in the world to come.

  • Bahá'ís believe that Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, Moses and Krishna were all Messengers from God.

  • These Messengers all said basically the same thing – that we should love God and love one another, that we should be honest, truthful, kind, trustworthy, humble. It was only their social teachings which were different: this is because they were meant for a particular time and place. Now we are part of a world society new laws are necessary.

  • All of these Messengers promised a time when a great Messenger would come to bring peace to the whole world. Bahá'ís believe that Bahá'u'lláh was that Messenger and that the time for peace is now.

The State of the World

Bahá'ís are very concerned with the state of the world we live in. They feel that we need to take a more spiritual, less selfish attitude to this earth, for we need to live in harmony with our environment.

Wherever Bahá'ís live, they try to help people in whatever way is possible. If they live in a village in the Third World, they will organise a school, a farming or health project which will benefit everyone. In every country there are many ways in which Bahá'ís can be useful.

Above all, Bahá'ís do everything they can to encourage world peace – by joining and supporting other groups, and by putting forward their own ideas for an international peace conference. It is only when we have peace and co-operation that many of the problems of the world will be solved.

Daily Life

Each day a Bahá'í should turn to God in prayer. Each morning and evening he or she should read some of the Bahá'í scriptures, meditate on them, and try to put them into practice.

There are many books of Bahá'í scripture but here are just a few examples from the writings:

"Turn all your thoughts toward bringing joy to hearts."

"Strive that your actions day by day might be beautiful prayers."

"See ye no strangers; rather see all men as friends."

"Breathe not the sins of others whilst thou art thyself a sinner."

"Think ye at all times of rendering some service to every member of the human race."

Living up to the Bahá'í teachings may be very difficult but we can only do our best. Through prayer we find out what we can do to improve ourselves and to serve our fellow human beings and also find the strength to do it.

Bahá'ís believe that our purpose in this life is to learn, to develop, so that when move on to the next world we will be closer to God.

Community Life

Bahá'ís meet together regularly to pray, discuss local matters, to enjoy one another's company and to get to know one another. This is called a 'Feast'. Where there are only a few Bahá'ís, this will be in someone's home. Where a whole village are Bahá'ís they will build a Bahá'í centre. In a few places in the world there are large Houses of Worship which are open to everybody, whatever their religion.

Bahá'ís often hold small meetings in their homes, for people who want to come and talk and learn more about the Bahá'í Faith. These are usually called "firesides".

In each local area Bahá'ís elect an assembly of nine people who make sure that everything runs smoothly and that everyone is happy. Each country has a national assembly and there is a world body too.

The Future

  • Bahá'ís believe that eventually there will be a world government which will make sure that all countries are treated fairly and that the planet survives in a healthy state.

  • There will no longer be vast differences between rich and poor countries, or rich and poor people.

  • Every child in the world will be able to go to school.

  • Everyone will learn a world language so that we can all understand one another better.

  • Women will be treated equally with men and they will use their influence to help bring about peace in the world.

  • When it comes down to it, it is the people of the world who have to change the world. And we can only start with ourselves.

Published by, and copyright of, the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Warwick.
Approved by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom,
27 Rutland Gate, London, SW7 1PD.
All quotations are from the Bahá'í writings.

Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holders