Baha'i and Globalisation

Baha'i and Globalisation

Baha'i and Globalisation

Baha'i and Globalisation

Excerpt

The Danish Renner project is a Research Network on the study of NEw Religions. This research network, which is supported by the Danish Research Council for the Humanities, has been active since 1992. In 1998, a new grant from the Research Council allowed us to conduct a specific study on new religions and globalisation, and we initiated the project with several separate studies of new age religion and globalisation. The present book, Baha'i and Globalisation, which is the seventh volume of the book series Renner Studies on New Religion, is the second of the case studies of the project. Another book, which emphasises the theoretical and methodological aspects of the study of new religions and globalisation, will be volume eight in the series, rounding off this special RENNER topic.

Globalisation is the conventional term used to describe the present, rapid integration of the world economy facilitated by the innovations and growth in international electronic communications particularly during the last two decades. Globalisation carries with it an increasing political and cultural awareness that all of humanity is globally interdependent. However, the awareness of this global interdependency has been aired by philosophers and politicians much before the term globalisation was introduced. Thus, the founder of the Baha'i religion, the Iranian prophet, Husayn-Ali Nuri (1817-1892) called Baha'u'llah, claimed in the late 19 century that the central doctrine of the Baha'i religion is the realisation that the human race is one and that the world should be unified: 'The utterance of God is a lamp, whose light is these words: Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch'. This is a goal that 'excelleth every other goal'.

Present-day globalisation is a continuation of a historical pro cess over several hundred years. This process gained momentum in a crucial period from around 1870 and the subsequent fifty years. It is notable that this period coincides with the period when the central doctrines of the Baha'i religion were formulated by Baha'u'llah and his son and successor, Abdu'l-Baha (1844-1921). The sociologist of religion,

1 Both quotations are from Baha'u'llah (1988: 14).

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