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Probably the most-asked question here on BahaiTeachings.org is “How do I become a Baha’i?” One recent e-mail from a seeker in India said it this way: “I want to be a member of your beautiful religion. How can I do that?”
Abdu’l-Baha once said,
“A Baha’i is someone who loves and serves all humanity.”
To take that next step, and go beyond being a Baha’i in spirit, you may feel ready to actively seek out others who can help you address the urgent needs of the human family together. Before you do that, though, you’ll want to look into your own heart.
Because basically, becoming a Baha’i is a heartfelt, spiritual and deeply personal decision. You really become a Baha’i once you begin believing in Baha’u’llah and in the Baha’i teachings. Since the Baha’i Faith has no clergy or initiation or baptism, becoming a Baha’i simply means making the purely individual commitment that you want to try to follow Baha’u’llah’s teachings.
This deep decision usually occurs after an inner process of searching for spiritual wisdom and guidance; discovering the Baha’i teachings and exploring them; beginning to recognize and love Baha’u’llah and His message of the unity of all people and the renewal of one world faith; and coming to identify with the inner mystical truths as well as the progressive social goals of the Baha’i Faith.
For some people, traveling the path of search takes a lifetime, but for others, their recognition of the truth of the Baha’i teachings happens instantaneously. There is no prescribed duration, no typical timeline, no right or wrong pathway of search here – everyone walks their own spiritual road and makes their own decision.
And once you’ve traveled that mystical path, you may be ready to become a Baha’i.
The actual physical process of becoming a Baha’i, of joining the Baha’i community and signing on as a member of the Faith, is very simple. It varies from country to country, depending on civil and religious laws, but in most countries you simply sign a Baha’i declaration card, which typically says something like this:
I wish to become a member of the Baha’i community. I accept Baha’u’llah as the Bearer of God’s Message for this Day and will endeavour to follow His teachings and the Baha’i way of life. I also accept the authority of the institutions which administer the affairs of the Baha’i community. (Australian Baha’i declaration card)
Baha’u’llah said that Baha’is should not proselytize, or try to convert anyone to the Baha’i Faith forcefully or without their consent. That means becoming a Baha’i is entirely voluntary and completely up to you. No other person can condition or determine what you believe.
When you sign a Baha’i declaration card, you’ll be joyfully welcomed into a local Baha’i community, and become part of the worldwide Baha’i community, as well. But that powerful moment of recognition, when you decide to be a Baha’i, happens first in your heart. In essence, becoming a Baha’i means falling in love with beauty, unity, peace and justice, the hallmarks of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation. This important spiritual milestone in your life, making the decision to recognize God’s Messenger, can bring you great peace, joy and freedom.
Baha'u'llah praised this process in very elevated and exalted terms:
The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Day Spring of His Revelation and the fountain of His laws... It behooveth every one who reacheth this most sublime station, this summit of transcendent glory, to observe every ordinance of Him Who is the Desire of the world. These twin duties are inseparable. Neither is acceptable without the other. – The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 19.
When you become a Baha’i, you join millions of Baha’u’llah’s followers around the globe. You enter a beautiful garden of kindred souls that includes every color, ethnicity, class and nationality. You recognize the Manifestation of God for this day. Most importantly, you take the next step on a spiritual path meant to prepare your soul for its eternal journey.