Understanding the Baha'i Faith

Understanding the Baha'i Faith

Understanding the Baha'i Faith

Understanding the Baha'i Faith

Synopsis

The Bahá'é Faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions and the second most widespread after Christianity. Dating from its Iranian origins in 1844, it has rapidly spread to every country of the world and counts more than five million adherents. The central teaching of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'é Faith, is that it is imperative for humanity to recognize that it is a single race so that it can act in unity as one global community to meet the challenges of the present day. The Bahá'é scriptures provide a wide-ranging social program designed for people living today coupled with spiritual principles that echo those found in the great faith traditions of the past. Understanding the Bahá'é Faith focuses on the impact that the religion has, looking at what it has to say about personal life, the home, the community, social issues, global concerns, as well as the spiritual life. This book provides a factual and straightforward account of the history, organization, development and sacred texts of the religion, as well as a time-line of important events and a glossary. It is suitable for general audiences, students of comparative religion and teachers.

Excerpt

This book is an attempt to describe a religion that is relatively young in terms of the age of humanity and therefore does not have the depth of history that religions such as Judaism and Hinduism have. Nor is it concentrated in any part of the world and so it has not built up a culture that can be described, in the way that Sikhism has. This does not mean, however, that it is easy to describe the Baha'i Faith. Indeed, anyone trying to find out something about the Baha'i Faith by searching, for example, on the Internet will find it being attacked on conservative websites as a liberal religion that is a bedfellow of communism, globalism and libertarianism, whilst other sites portray it as being narrow, conservative and reactionary. and so one can be forgiven for being completely bewildered when trying to form an idea of what the religion is about.

We have attempted to find a way to present this religion in a manner that is simple enough to be understandable to those who know nothing about it and yet avoids the simplifications of adjectives such as 'conservative' and 'liberal' which distort the picture and render it unrecognisable to its adherents. As with any portrait, however, and in particular one that is confined to a limited number of words, it must necessarily present the subject from a particular viewpoint and thus miss out on viewpoints that would have shown up other aspects of the subject.

As the above intends to demonstrate, the Baha'i Faith is not easily captured by simple descriptions. One of the main problems in presenting the Baha'i Faith is the fact that, perhaps because the religion is focused on and centred around the concept of unity and oneness, all of its aspects are themselves interconnected and bound up in an all-encompassing unity. the mystical aspects of the religion are interconnected with its administrative framework; the aspects of its teachings that relate to the individual are intimately connected with the aspects of its teachings concerning society and the global situation; its view of the physical and spiritual, the scientific and the religious, the personal and social is that these are all interdependent and aspects of one reality. Thus to try to analyse by breaking the religion down into its component parts is, to some extent, to distort it. Nevertheless . . .

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