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How do I become Baha’i?
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Why I Became a Baha’i

Susan Gammage | Apr 15, 2024

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Susan Gammage | Apr 15, 2024

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

I love this passage, given to us by Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, and recounted in the historian and poet Nabil’s book “The Dawn-Breakers”:

Be thankful to God for having enabled you to recognise His Cause. Whoever has received this blessing must, prior to his acceptance, have performed some deed which though he himself was unaware of its character, was ordained by God as a means whereby he has been guided to find and embrace the Truth. 

I look forward to seeing what this deed might have been when I get to the next world!  

RELATED: A Christian Becomes a Baha’i – and Her Parents Object

At the end of World War II, my father served as an officer with the British Army, in what was then called Palestine, and stayed until the State of Israel came into existence. In looking at his war record, it seems likely that he was stationed in Haifa, where the Baha’i World Centre is located, and that he served on the Military Court, which sentenced prisoners to the very prison in Akka, where Baha’u’llah had been imprisoned in 1868 after he and His family and some of his followers had been exiled from Adrianople by the Ottoman government.   

Yet, to the best of my knowledge, my father knew nothing about the Baha’i Faith when I became a Baha’i in 1982.  

Somehow, this chain of events seems like quite a coincidence. Did some of the Baha’is pray for the British soldiers and their (future) families? I may never know, but it does make me wonder what role my father’s service might have played in my becoming a Baha’i many decades later.  

Importantly, I should note that people join the Baha’i Faith voluntarily, and their reasons for doing so can vary widely. In this essay, I’ll tell you some of the things that attracted me.

Baha’i Spiritual Beliefs

I was raised in a Christian denomination which taught that its faith was the only faith that mattered to God — and that everyone else was going straight to hell. This made no sense to me, so I turned away from the God of my childhood when I was 15 and became an atheist for the next 10 years. I was drawn to the Baha’i Faith after reading part of a book called “All Things Made New” by John Ferraby. When I discovered the Baha’i teachings about God sending a series of messengers who founded new religions throughout human history — all revealing essentially the same basic teachings — this made sense to me. 

The Baha’i Emphasis on Unity

The Baha’i Faith emphasizes the importance of unity among all people, regardless of their backgrounds.  Because I grew up in a family with a lot of abuse and longed to belong to a family who consulted rather than fought, this teaching appealed to me, too. I wanted unity, to be a part of the entire human family, and I found it in the global Baha’i community, composed of people from every conceivable religious, racial, cultural, and geographic origin working together for peace and justice.

Baha’i Social and Ethical Teachings

Baha’is are known for their commitment to social justice, gender equality, and the elimination of prejudice.  The primary principles of the Baha’i Faith include:

  • The oneness of humankind.
  • Universal peace upheld by a world government.
  • Independent investigation of truth.
  • The common foundation of all religions.
  • The essential harmony of science and religion.
  • Equality of men and women.
  • Elimination of prejudice of all kinds.
  • Universal compulsory education.
  • A spiritual solution to the economic problem.
  • A universal auxiliary language

All of these made sense to me.

Search for Meaning

The first Baha’i book I bought, “The Promulgation of Universal Peace” by Abdu’l-Baha, son of the founder of the Faith, outlines the Baha’i quest for a peaceful global society.  I loved the idea that there was a plan for world peace and that Baha’is all over the world were working to implement it.  

Baha’i Communities and the Support They Provide

Baha’i communities often provide a strong sense of belonging and support, which can be very appealing to those looking for a spiritual community.  When I was investigating the Faith, I attended many meetings called “firesides,” where different topics of the Faith were introduced by different speakers. I was always impressed by the spirit animating the meetings, and by seeing many people from all over the world in attendance, all seeming to belong. I wanted that belonging and support.  

RELATED: The 3 Signs that Led Me to a New Spiritual Destination

Baha’i Humanitarian and Peace Efforts

Baha’is are involved in various humanitarian and peace-building activities, which can attract individuals interested in making a positive impact on the world. I longed for my life to make a difference, and to contribute to the betterment of the world, and loved that Baha’u’llah revealed the blueprint for doing so, which each Baha’i studies and finds ways to implement in our own lives. I loved the fact that Baha’is all over the world were studying the Baha’i writings independently, without clergy, and systematically working towards peace at a grassroots level.

Membership of the Baha’i Faith is open to everyone who believes that Baha’u’llah is the latest messenger of God and who accepts the Covenant Baha’u’llah made with his followers about his successor and interpreter, Abdu’l-Baha, and the democratically-elected administrative institutions that guide and govern the Baha’i community.

Whatever the deed was that allowed me to find and follow the Baha’i Faith, it’s been the greatest gift of my life, and I am grateful!

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Comments

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  • Zachary L. Zavid
    Apr 16, 2024
    -
    Thanks for the article; it’s great to be able to see the Faith’s appeals from different people.
    I was born into the Faith (5th generation on one count) so I wonder what good deeds my ancestors may have done to deserve / warrant becoming Bahá’ís (I love the quote btw).
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