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A person becomes a Baha’i by recognizing Baha’u’llah as the messenger of God for this age, and then informing the Baha’i community of their desire to join the Baha’i Faith.
That’s the description of the Baha’i declaration process from the official website of the Baha’is of the United States.
Baha’is call this personal statement of faith a “declaration” because each person who becomes a Baha’i declares their faith in Baha’u’llah. Filling out the declaration form is a simple administrative procedure – but accepting Baha’u’llah as the messenger of God for this day is an act of your heart, your soul, your inmost being:
That which beseemeth you is the love of God, and the love of Him Who is the Manifestation of His Essence, and the observance of whatsoever He chooseth to prescribe unto you, did ye but know it. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah
If and when you become a Baha’i, you will likely encounter these three realities:
1. The Baha’i principles are vast, noble, comprehensive and beautiful.
Living up to them poses the challenge of a lifetime. Of course, Baha’is are human, and they try very hard to live up to and obey the laws and teachings revealed by Baha’u’llah. But because we are human, even though we do try very hard to follow the Baha’i teachings, we fail. So if you focus only on the Baha’is, you will be let down.
Never judge the Baha’i Faith by the behavior of its followers. The Baha’i Faith transcends all personalities. When a person becomes a Baha’i, that person does not automatically become an example of how Baha’is should live. On the contrary, we carry our old baggage with us. Becoming a Baha’i, then, doesn’t mean you’ve reached the destination – it simply means that you have a ticket for the journey.
When we encounter difficulties with other Baha’is or any other people, for that matter, we must try our best to be forgiving, understanding, compassionate, and forbearing. This is not easy. But as we do this, we grow emotionally and spiritually.
2. You may repeatedly encounter things in the Baha’i Faith you do not immediately understand.
Understanding the majestic Baha’i writings can be difficult, and the Baha’i laws and teachings are not always easy to understand either. Be patient with yourself, and understand this: as you grow in your faith and progress spiritually, as you pray and meditate, as you read and study the Baha’i writings, your knowledge and spiritual perception will grow. Things you don’t understand or comprehend now will become as clear as day later on.
3. You might encounter things in the Baha’i Faith you may not initially like.
We human beings have our own set ways of thinking and acting. Our egos object when we come up against anything that contradicts our long-held views and behaviors.
When we encounter things in the Baha’i Faith we don’t understand or don’t like, there is nothing like the power of truly deep humility.
After all, if Baha’u’llah really is who he claims to be – a messenger of God – then he certainly understands what is best for us. Why? Because his authority is divine. His words are the Word of God for this new day. As Baha’is, we believe God has spoken to humanity through Baha’u’llah. Everything in the Baha’i Faith revolves around and flows directly from our acceptance of the divine authority of Baha’u’llah as a messenger of God.
Our individual wisdom has limits, but God’s wisdom has none. So once we accept Baha’u’llah as a messenger of God, we can strive to understand and apply the Baha’i laws and teachings humbly and to the best of our abilities.
So if you decide to become a Baha’i, do it for the right reason: because you accept the divine spiritual message and authority of Baha’u’llah. Then, for the rest of your life, stay totally focused on the reason you became a Baha’i – let your supreme purpose in life be to live and die a staunch Baha’i. This will help you immeasurably in strengthening your commitment and steadfastness.
Know thou for a certainty that the Will of God is not limited by the standards of the people, and God doth not tread in their ways. Rather it is incumbent upon everyone to firmly adhere to God’s straight Path. Were He to pronounce the right to be the left or the south to be the north, He speaketh the truth and there is no doubt of it. Verily He is to be praised in His acts and to be obeyed in His behests. He hath no associate in His judgment nor any helper in His sovereignty. He doeth whatsoever He willeth and ordaineth whatsoever He pleaseth … – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah