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Baha’is belong to the world’s newest major Faith, founded by Baha’u’llah, a 19th Century Persian mystic, prophet and prisoner who taught the unity of all nations, races and religions.
The Baha’i Faith tends to spread its message gently and quietly, and yet, in the past 150 years, it has become one of the most widespread religions on Earth. Representing all nationalities, backgrounds, ethnicities, social classes, and every beautiful color of the human race, you probably have Baha’is living in your community or somewhere near you.
If you look carefully you might even recognize them – Baha’is generally tend toward happiness, try to have a positive, radiant, healthy outlook on life, and express their love for humanity by engaging in volunteer work for children, the elderly and the poor. Baha’is do their utmost to exemplify the spiritual teachings of Baha’u’llah, which call upon everyone to know and love God and carry forth an ever-advancing civilization:
He is a true Baha’i who strives by day and by night to progress along the path of human endeavor, whose cherished desire is so to live and act as to enrich and illumine the world; whose source of inspiration is the essence of Divine Perfection, whose aim in life is to conduct himself so as to be the cause of infinite progress. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World, vol. 2, p. xvi.
This series of nine short essays attempts to answer two of the most common questions people who encounter the Baha’i teachings ask – what does it mean to be a Baha’i, and how do you become one?
#1 – Progressive Revelation
Baha’is believe that all of the founders of the world’s major Faiths — including Moses, Abraham, Christ, Muhammad, Krishna, Buddha, and now Baha’u’llah — have appeared at intervals throughout history to write the chapters in a single great religion. Together these Manifestations and Prophets, sent by a loving Supreme Being to enable us to seek the answers to our deepest inner questions, have created a sequential, linked historical pattern of mystical and practical teachings Baha’is call progressive revelation.
In other words, Baha’is see the entire epic scope of religious revelation and belief as one single system.
Instead of competing messages from disparate and conflicting Messengers, Baha’is focus on the unity of all Faiths, the common messages of their Founders, and the essential oneness of their teachings. In the simplest terms, Baha’is believe that one God has given us one continuous Faith. Like teachers in a school, the Founders of the world’s great Faiths progressively reveal the knowledge and insight humanity needs to keep moving forward.
This simple and yet profound way to look at religion means Baha’is accept all of the major Faiths as legitimate and true. Religion is one, Baha’u’llah taught, revealed over the course of time by one loving God through a series of Divine Educators.
Baha’is come from Christian, Moslem, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and all other religious traditions; and Baha’is also come from agnostic and atheist and spiritual backgrounds. Becoming a Baha’i means embracing the one Faith that does not reject other Faiths.
The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 215.
The essence of the Baha’i teachings — love, harmony and peace – reflect the essential message of all spiritual truths. Baha’is want to spread the love and unity Baha’u’llah describes, so the Baha’i community welcomes everyone. Please follow along in this series of articles as we discover how Baha’is lead their lives and what it means to be a Baha’i.
Read the next article in the series: Independent Investigation of Truth