Wed | Feb 21, 2018

The Baha’i Faith, Part 2 - Beliefs and practices

Published:Saturday | December 9, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams
From left: Checkkar Lee, Baha'i Faith’s resource person for Caribbean, Junior youth Spiritual Empowerment Programme; Denise Tulloch, secretary Local Spiritual Assembly, Baha'i Kingston; Oscar Effiong, auxiliary board member; and Stacey Mitchell, chair of the National Spiritual Assembly.

Originating in Iran, about 1844, the Baha'i faith evolved out of the Shi'ite branch of the Muslim faith. It is said to have been started by a Persian named The Bab, who believed he had a new message for humanity's spiritual transformation. He also claimed that the was the forerunner to a second divine messenger from God.

The Bab and his followers were persecuted by the Muslims, who killed him. One of his followers, who called himself Baha'u'llah, the Glory of God, claimed that he was the second divine messenger whom The Bab had prophesied.

Since then, Baha'is have come to accept the divine authority of The Bab, Baha'u'llah, and their appointed successors, and in 1852, Baha'u'llah gave detailed instructions for the continuity of the faith after his transition.

He taught that Jesus the Christ was the Son of God and that before becoming a Baha'i, people must recognise Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Bab, and Baha'u'llah as messengers of God. His followers also believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ, a spiritual one, had already happened.

 

FAITH HAS SPREAD

 

Despite the initial years of persecution, the faith has spread to many countries all over the world, perhaps because of its adherents' universal message of justice and peace for all. They have many beliefs which fall under four many categories: the life of the spirit, god and his creation, essential relationships, and universal peace.

Baha'is believe that the all-knowing, all-loving, and merciful God is the creator of the universe and all things within. The beauty of nature, then, is indicative of the greatness of God. Thus, respect for nature is respect for God, and Earth's resources must be preserved for the enhancement of civilisation.

To represent him, God, has sent divine messengers, known as manifestations of God. It is through the teachings of these manifestations such as Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, The Bab, and Baha'u'llah that we grow intellectually and spiritually.

Everybody has a spirit, a rational and immortal soul that passes through Earth on its way to eternity. During our sojourn on Earth, we must seek God and grow spiritually. Growth encompasses, but is not limited, to acts of devotion, fasting, pilgrimage, and service to others.

This is an enforcement of the bond between God and man. Thus, we must live a generous life, giving our time, energy, knowledge, and money unconditionally. This will reflect the nobility and integrity that are within us and the oneness of humankind. We belong to one human family, thus individuals, communities, and institutions must foster harmonious relationships. This is at the heart of the Baha'i faith.

Closely related with the oneness of humankind is universal peace, which they believe is the supreme goal of mankind. Associated with this peace are social principles such as independent search for truth, the oneness of the human race, the elimination of superstition and prejudices, harmony between science and religion, equality between men and women, compulsory education, and justice.

Also, Baha'is believe in daily prayers and meditation. To them it is about spiritual baptism as water baptism is no longer relevant. The sacrament of marriage is also adhered to, though divorce is permissible only after one year of marriage. The Baha'i new year begins on March 21, and the day begins at sunset.

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