The Baha’i teachings ask everyone to help promote the well-being of the entire human family, regardless of religion, race or geography. Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, said that all of God’s divine messengers had the same essential goals:
God’s purpose in sending His Prophets unto men is twofold. The first is to liberate the children of men from the darkness of ignorance, and guide them to the light of true understanding. The second is to ensure the peace and tranquility of mankind, and provide all the means by which they can be established.
The Prophets of God should be regarded as physicians whose task is to foster the well-being of the world and its peoples, that, through the spirit of oneness, they may heal the sickness of a divided humanity. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 79.
To further the spiritual aim of fostering the spirit of oneness across the world, Baha’is host study circles, gatherings that bring small groups of people together to explore the Baha’i teachings and enrich the spiritual lives of those who take part. Sociable, collaborative, self-directed and participatory, study circles have no formal teachers or “experts,” but instead foster a consultative and cooperative spirit of collective learning. Baha’i study circles center around the goals of developing skills, knowledge and spiritual insights that can contribute to social transformation.
Baha’is welcome everyone, regardless of their beliefs, to join an existing study circle or help form a new one. These grassroots local groups meet regularly, investigate the information and inspiration in the Baha’i writings, and then try to translate what they’ve studied into acts of service and community development:
All mankind are creatures and servants of the one God. The surface of the earth is one home; humanity is one family and household. Distinctions and boundaries are artificial, human. Why should there be discord and strife among men? All must become united and coordinated in service to the world of humanity. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 107.
The purpose of a study circle—to emphasize and energize our spiritual realities, discovering our roles in fostering society’s progress—goes beyond mere learning. Instead, study circles help develop unity of vision, which then leads to action, which then leads to service to humanity.
The Baha’i writings say that true spiritual growth and development, and true faith, can only come about through that action:
The wrong in the world continues to exist just because people talk only of their ideals, and do not strive to put them into practice. If actions took the place of words, the world’s misery would very soon be changed into comfort. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 80.