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The endowments which distinguish the human race from all other forms of life are summed up in what is known as the human spirit; the mind is its essential quality. These endowments have enabled humanity to build civilizations and to prosper materially. But such accomplishments alone have never satisfied the human spirit, whose mysterious nature inclines it towards transcendence, a reaching towards an invisible realm, towards the ultimate reality, that unknowable essence of essences called God. The religions brought to mankind by a succession of spiritual luminaries have been the primary link between humanity and that ultimate reality, and have galvanized and refined mankind’s capacity to achieve spiritual success together with social progress…. No serious attempt to set human affairs aright, to achieve world peace, can ignore religion. – The Universal House of Justice
Historians recognize religion, one of the most potent forces guiding human conduct and promoting social good, for its important role in helping each individual’s moral and spiritual development—but also for controlling materialism and advancing civilization as a whole.
Just like human development, which has incrementally and steadily matured over the past thousands of years, religion has also reached adulthood. Many people now recognize all the Prophets and Founders of the world’s great Faiths for what and who they are: progressive messengers of one and the same God, a God of love. In the Baha’i view of systemic, unified and sequential development of faith, each religion plays a required and legitimate role in a single divine, continuing, perpetual religion. Baha’is believe the Messengers of God will continue to succeed one another “until the end that hath no end,” each bringing in turn a fuller measure of God’s unending guidance to humankind.
In the Baha’i teachings, we learn that God has given us an unfolding plan for happiness and social order, based on spiritual principles of love, service to others, and personal conduct. In the Baha’i teachings, the twin goals of every religion, unity and freedom of worship, are blended and harmonized for the modern age. In the Baha’i teachings, the religions agree on spiritual and moral principles, although internal social laws differ in major and minor aspects. In the Baha’i teachings, science and religion agree.
Baha’is believe that the Golden Rule applies universally, and serves as the foundation of civilization. The Baha’i teachings uphold the sanctity of life, with balance and consideration for the mother’s and father’s wishes. Baha’is have no clergy, and believe celibacy for ministers of religious orders is a thing of the past. The Baha’i teachings encourage marriage and family life, and consider the raising of children a parental and societal duty.
Baha’i houses of worship are open to everyone. They incorporate schools, dispensaries, homes for the aged, medical facilities, social services and other charitable efforts. Baha’is teach and respect shared religious values universally. Baha’is do not proselytize or forcibly convert people to their faith—instead superstition, outworn rituals, blind dogma, and traditions have been replaced by sane reasoning, without sacrificing the influence of the heart. The Baha’i teachings encourage each individual to discover a personal reality based on independent investigation of the truth, and not through the knowledge or traditions of others.
In the Baha’i teachings, the religious distortions, disagreements and intolerance of the past, a main source of disunity, have been reconciled. Hatred, verbal or physical violence, and fanaticism have been replaced by acceptance, unity and understanding.
Could the Baha’i Faith be that universal religion of the future, the missing cohesive element that leads humanity to a unified and peaceful world? The Baha’i teachings encourage everyone to investigate and answer that question for themselves:
Now is the beginning of the manifestation of the spiritual power, and inevitably the potency of its life forces will assume greater and greater proportions. …it is evident that day by day it will advance. It will reach such a degree that spiritual effulgences will overcome the physical, so that divine susceptibilities will overpower material intelligence and the heavenly light dispel and banish earthly darkness. Divine healing shall purify all ills, and the cloud of mercy will pour down its rain. The Sun of Reality will shine, and all the earth shall put on its beautiful green carpet. Among the results of the manifestation of spiritual forces will be that the human world will adapt itself to a new social form, the justice of God will become manifest throughout human affairs, and human equality will be universally established. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 131.