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How do I become Baha’i?

What Is the Baha'i Faith?

"The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens."

Bahá'u'lláh

An Introduction to the Bahá’í Faith by Rainn Wilson

Table of Contents

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1. What Is the Baha’i Faith?
5. What Is the Baha’i Community Like?
2. The Main Baha’i Teachings
6. Baha’i Funds
3. Who Is Baha’u’llah?
7. How to Become a Baha’i
4. How Did Baha’i History Begin?
8. Additional Baha’i Resources
1. What Is the Baha’i Faith?
2. The Main Baha’i Teachings
3. Who Is Baha’u’llah?
4. How Did Baha’i History Begin?
5. What Is the Baha’i Community Like?
6. Baha’i Funds
7. How to Become a Baha’i
8. Additional Baha’i Resources

What Is the Baha’i Faith?

The Baha’i Faith, the world’s newest independent global belief system, teaches the oneness of God, the unity of humanity, and the essential harmony of religion. It is the world’s second-most widespread religion after Christianity, spanning the globe and working to unite it.

The Baha’i teachings promote the agreement of science and religion, gender equality, and the elimination of all prejudice and racism. Baha’is believe in each person’s capacity to find the truth for themselves, and there is no clergy — Baha’is gather together in democratically-led communities and welcome everyone.

Baha’is accept the validity of each of the founders and prophets of the major world religions and believe in progressive revelation. This unique Baha’i principle views every great Faith as a link in a single, spiritual, system, progressively revealed, similar to how chapters in a book tell an evolving story — by God to humanity.

The Main Baha’i Teachings

The Baha’i teachings focus on the soul’s relationship with the eternal, unknowable essence of God, and recommend daily prayer and meditation to everyone. Baha’is believe that the human spirit lives eternally, and so endeavor to illumine their souls with spiritual attributes — kindness, generosity, integrity, truthfulness, humility, and selfless service to others. 

The Baha’i Faith provides the means for peace and tranquility through a progressive set of social teachings:

These fundamental Baha’i principles call for a complete restructuring of humanity’s priorities — from material to spiritual, from exclusive to inclusive, and from divisiveness to unity.

The Essential Unity of All Religions

The Essential Unity of All Religions Consider to what extent the love of God makes itself manifest. Among the signs of His love which appear in the world are the dawning-point of His Manifestations.

– Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 89.

The Progressive Revelation of God

Abraham
-5000 B.C.
Krishna
-3200 B.C.
Moses
-1330 B.C.
Zoroaster
-700 B.C.
Buddha
-500 B.C.
Christ
1 B.C.
Muhammad
570 A.D.
the BÁB
1844 A.D.
BAHÁ’U’LLÁH
1863 A.D.

Who Is Baha’u’llah?

Baha’is believe that God sends different prophets, or Manifestations of God, to reveal divine messages to humanity. These Manifestations include Abraham, Zoroaster, Moses, the Buddha, Krishna, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, the Bab, and the founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha‘u’llah.

In English, Baha’u’llah means “The Glory of God,” and Baha’is believe that His coming is foretold in many of the world religions. The Baha’i writings say:

“To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the “Everlasting Father”, the “Lord of Hosts” come down “with ten thousands of saints”; to Christendom Christ returned “in the glory of the Father”; to Shí’ah Islám the return of the Imám Ḥusayn; to Sunní Islám the descent of the “Spirit of God” (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Sháh-Bahrám; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha.”

Baha’is view Baha’u’llah as the latest divine messenger to found a major world religion and usher in a new age of human development. Born Mirza Husayn Ali in Tehran, Persia in 1817, Baha’u’llah was known early in his adult life as “the father of the poor” for his selfless work assisting the destitute and homeless. In 1863, he began openly teaching the Baha’i Faith, with its revolutionary messages of the oneness of humanity, the oneness of religion, the equality of men and women, the agreement of science and religion, and the establishment of a global system of governance.

Baha’u’llah suffered 40 years of exile, torture, and imprisonment  — all for announcing that a new revelation had been born. Baha’u’llah called the entire world to collective action and unity, and that call, Baha’is believe, has inaugurated a new age of spirituality, harmony, and human maturation.

Unlike many religions of the past, Baha’is have the original writings of Baha’u’llah, his son and successor, Abdu’l-Baha — as well as the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, Shoghi Effendi, and, since 1963, the Universal House of Justice, the nine-member democratically-elected global governing body of the Baha’i Faith. Baha’is rely on and revere those inspiring writings and see them as the source for humanity’s continual guidance. They have been translated into hundreds of languages, including tribal and indigenous ones, to make them available to everyone.

How Did Baha’i History Begin?

In a troubled time and place — Shiraz, Persia in 1844 — a young merchant and mystic made a startling announcement: that he brought the world a new message from God.

Called The Bab (pronounced bob), which means “The Gate,” this new prophet created a furor in Persian society with his revolutionary teachings — spiritual and moral transformation, women’s emancipation, and the raising up of the poor. The Bab also proclaimed that he had come to herald the birth of a new, universal revelation, one greater than his own, and to prepare the way for the Promised One of all ages. The Babi movement known as the Babi Faith spread quickly, electrifying the masses and provoking severe reactions from the government and the clergy. 

At a time when clerics played an oppressive role in Persian society, the Bab encouraged people to think for themselves and let go of superstition and dogma. He also proclaimed that he had come to prepare the way for a new, universal revelation and that the promised one spoken of in all previous religions and holy texts would soon make himself known. He asked his followers to spread this message, but advised, “The path of guidance is one of love and compassion, not of force and coercion.” Tens of thousands of Babis, including the Bab himself, were tortured, massacred and publicly executed for their beliefs.

After the Bab’s execution in 1850, Baha’u’llah gradually assumed the leadership of the Babis. In prison in 1852, Baha’u’llah received the revelation that inspired the Baha’i Faith and fulfilled the prophecies and promises of the Bab.

The Baha’i Faith now counts millions of followers across every region, nation, and continent of the world. Baha’u’llah’s teachings emphasize justice, equality, and religious unity, so even today many Baha’is in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries still face persecution for their beliefs.

What Is the Baha’i Community Like?

Baha’i communities carry out various grassroots efforts to further unity and social transformation, along with their friends of many different religions, races, and backgrounds. Through activities that respond to the reality of every region, and uphold the principle of the unity of mankind, they are discovering what it takes to make a society fruitful, both materially and spiritually. Some of these activities—sometimes called “core activities”—include moral and spiritual development classes for children, pre-teen and teen empowerment programs, study groups, and prayer gatherings.

 Baha’i events — meetings, elections, parties, devotionals, holy day celebrations, a Baha’i “Feast” at the beginning of every month — tend to include lots of social interaction, with laughter, music, and a general sense of joy and happiness. 

Depending on their size, Baha’i communities often meet in homes, local Baha’i centers, or meeting rooms. Diverse and inclusive, most Baha’i meetings give participants the opportunity to meet and get to know people from different backgrounds, cultures, and nations.

Baha’i Funds

Baha’is never ask others for monetary contributions — in fact, only Baha’is can contribute to the Baha’i funds, and all contributions are completely confidential. No one ever passes a plate or requires anyone to participate, since every donation is considered private and personal.

The monetary contributions Baha’is make foster social development programs, community service activities, the maintenance of Baha’i centers and gardens, and the spiritual education for children, youth, and adults. Participating in these programs is open to everyone who wishes to be a part of building communities based on spiritual principles such as justice, kindness, and love.

How to Become a Baha’i

Anyone can become a Baha’i.

Becoming a Baha’i means accepting Baha’u’llah’s unifying teachings, and deciding to try to follow the path of spiritual development the Baha’i teachings outline. There is no service, baptism, or ceremony involved — becoming a Baha’i simply requires an inner, spiritual decision to embrace the teachings of the Faith and join your local Baha’i community. In many countries, Baha’is also sign a declaration card, which enrolls them in the Baha’i community and allows them to receive invitations to community events and gatherings.

When you make the decision to become a Baha’i, you also take part in a planetary movement to change the world. Baha’is work for peace, justice, equality, racial unity, and environmental sustainability — all based on addressing the underlying, spiritual causes of such inequities. The new, optimistic model the Baha’i teachings offer the world takes a fresh approach to problem-solving, tapping into the deep well of human concern for others with a thoughtful, integrated, and comprehensive spiritual energy.

Baha’is come from every walk of life, every social strata of society and every ethnicity, racial background, nation, and age group. To answer the question “What is a Baha’i?” Abdu’l-Baha answered:

To be a Baha’i simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood.” If you’d like to meet Baha’is in your local area, they’re usually listed online, in a local newspaper or phone book, or in directories of places of worship. If you can’t find any local Baha’is, feel free to email us here at support@BahaiTeachings.org, and we’ll be happy to put you in touch with a nearby Baha’i community.

Additional Baha’i Resources

The official website of the Baha’i Faith

www.Bahai.org

The official website on the life of Baha’u’llah

www.Bahaullah.org

The official website of the Universal House of Justice

www.UniversalHouseofJustice.Bahai.org

The official website of the Baha’is of the United States

www.Bahai.us

The official website of the Baha’is of Canada

www.ca.Bahai.org

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