Philosophy & Religion: Bahai

Origin

The Bah�� religion was founded by its Prophet, Bah�u�ll�h, in the 19th century in Persia, which is now called Iran. The Bah�� religion focuses on the progressive education for human kind through messages carried by the Manifestations of God in human form, also called prophet.

Bah�u�ll�h was born in the year 1817 in Tehran the capital city of Iran, to a wealthy and devout Muslim family. His father was M�rz� Buzurg, a noble man in the Court of the King of Persia, and His mother was Khad�jih Kh�num.

In 1844, a man named Siyyid Ali Muhammad from Shiraz, Persia, declared himself as a Prophet at the age of 25. He called himself The Bab. This is an Arabic word which means gate. . When Bah�u�ll�h was 28 years old, He became a follower of the Bab, and thus He became a Babi. Bah�u�ll�h then started to spread the word of God and the Bab in Persia. One of the Bab’s prophesies was about a promised one who would be another Prophet like the Bab. . The Bab�s freedom was restricted soon after He declared His mission, was imprisoned in places far away from place of His birth and eventually put to death by the order of Government in 1850, and many believers in the Babi community were also executed or imprisoned.

Bah�u�ll�h was imprisoned for his belief in the Bab in Siyah-Chal prison where he claimed to have received His revelation from God. While in prison, Bah�u�ll�h had a vision in which a Heavenly Maiden intimated to Him that He was the Person prophesied by the Bab. . He was released from prison and banished from Persia to Baghdad.

Baghdad attracted many followers of the Babi religion. . A man called Mirza Yahya declared himself as the Bab’s successor, claiming that the Bab had conferred on him this authority before His death. Some of the Babis considered Mirza Yahaya as the leader of the Babi community in Baghdad and he was also considered by this small group of Babis as the next Manifestation of God. When Bah�u�ll�h reached Baghdad, many people started following Him as their new leader. He wrote many books, such as the Book of Certitude and The Hidden Words which he taught to the Babi community. Persian Government was apprehensive of Him, the respect that He commanded among the inhabitants of Baghdad, and growth of the Babi Community. Therefore it persuaded the Ottoman Empire to banish Bah�u�ll�h from Baghdad to a place far away from the Persian borders. Bah�u�ll�h at the start of His journey to Constantinople stayed in the Garden of Ridvan outside of Baghdad. On April 22, 1863 in the Garden of Ridvan, Bah�u�ll�h declared to the Babi Community that He was the chosen one prophesied by the Bab. The twelve days he stayed in the Garden of Ridvan is now celebrated as a festival in the Bah�� community as the Ridvan festival. Bah�u�ll�h along with his family and a selected group of followers were sent to Constantinople, which is present day Istanbul, Turkey. After spending four months in Constantinople Bah�u�ll�h was sent to Adrianople, which is present day Edrine, Turkey. After spending four and half years in Adrianople in the Ottoman Empire then the Government transferred Him to Akka, in Palestine, which was then a territory, ruled by the Ottoman Empire. Currently Akka is located in Israel after creation of the state of Israel. This is where Bah�u�ll�h spent the last years of His life. Towards the end of His life, He lived in the Mansion of Bahji. After He passed away, He was buried in a small room adjacent to the mansion of Bahji. This is the holiest place in the Bah�� religion. . After the death of Bah�u�ll�h, His son, Abdu�l-Bah� was declared His successor. Abdu�l-Bah� is a key figure in the Bah�� religion and He is responsible for the its spread in the western world and other parts of the world.

Bah�� Faith is the second most widespread religion in the world with followers living in more than 230 countries in the world. There are currently 5-6 million Bah�� `s in the world. Many of them live in Asia numbering 3.6 million � India alone accounting for 2.2 million; Africa has 1.8 million, and Latin America 900,000.

Worship

Many Bah��s pray in their homes daily or in Bah�� Centers in their cities. Out of the 200 countries that have Bah�� population, there are Bah�� centers in major cities. Bah�� temple is called �Mashriqu’l-Adhk�r� which means Dawning-place of the Mention of God. The seven Bah�� temples are shaped as nine sided domes because of the influence of the Bah�� scripture. Under the dome is generally there is an auditorium. Israel. . The first Bah�� temple was built in the city of Ishqabad, Turkmenistan. Bah�� centers and the seven temples are open to everyone regardless of their faith. Bah�� service is focused on the worship of God from the readings of the Holy Scriptures. . Bah��s do not make collections in the houses of worship. They come together, mostly in their homes or Bah�� Centres on the first day of the Bah�� month. In the Bah�� Calendar, each year has 19 months, and each month has 19 days. The seven temples in the world are in:

  • Chicago, USA
  • Kampala, Uganda
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Panama City, Panama
  • Tiapapata, Samoa
  • New Delhi, India

 

Writings

There are many sacred writings, which include Kitab-i-Aqdas, Kitab-i-Iqan, and The Hidden Words, revealed by Bah�u�ll�h. The Kitab-Aqdas is the central book of the Bah�� Faith which is written by the its founder, Bah�u�ll�h, which was written in Arabic and completed in the year 1873. The book Kitab-I-Aqdas consists mainly of laws, and briefly touches other themes. The Kitab-I-Iqan teaches the Bah�� way of life and the fundamental principle of unity of religions.

Bah�� Faith teaches three main beliefs: the Unity of God, the Unity of Religion, and the Unity of Mankind.

The Unity of God

Bah�� Faith is a monotheistic religion which believes in a single God. Bah�� Faith teaches that God is the creator, a supernatural being. and it does not have a physical form.

The Unity of Religion

Bah��s believe that God sends a Prophet to reveal God’s teaching to humankind once in a while. They believe that all religions teach the same fundamental principles, but vary in social teachings. God sends different Manifestations due to the requirements of different cultures and people in the world, and the time frame in which those people live. The most recent Manifestation of God sent by God was Bah�u�ll�h but others include Muhammad, and Buddha.

The Unity of Mankind

Bah�u�ll�h stated that �The world is but one country, and mankind its citizens.� Baha’is have a strong sense of unity among their community because they believe that race, colour of skin, and geographical locations where people are borne and live are not fundamental to the true station of man. We are all human beings and we are all equal.

God

Since the Bah�� faith is monotheistic religion it only believes in a single God. Bah��s believe that God is the creator of everything, the world, the universe. God is perfect, omniscient, and supernatural being. Bah��s believe that God is one, even though many people call him by different names, different meanings. However, he is still the one and only God. Bah��s believe that God is greater than humans and humans cannot fully comprehend and understand Him, and, therefore, it would be improper to create images of God. Bah��s believe even though humans cannot have direct contact with God, he is the great creator, and aware of everything around its creation. God sends prophets to educate humanity into the path of truth and unity. Prophets lead the human race to love each other. Bah��s believe in the Unity of Religion. Unity of religion means God has sent many prophets in the world to teach and reveal goodness and the teachings of God. This also means that the world only has one religion but due to many types of cultures and people God has sent different prophets like Buddha, and Muhammad into the world to reveal God�s teachings. The Bah�� faith recognizes many holy figures of different religions because of this belief. They recognize figures such as Buddha, Christ, Muhammad, and Abraham. Bah��s believe that God will send His Manifestations every few thousand years who will reveal the truth and teach the people at the that time. These Manifestations will reveal God’s teachings every time to help humanity. Bah��s refer to the attributes of God such as All Knowing, All Loving, etc. Bah��s also believe that not recognizing past religious prophets such as Muhammad, and Buddha is regarded as not believing in God himself. This belief states that God is a being beyond comprehension of all who loves mankind. . This does not mean he has a physical form but a being who is aware of his creation, who has a mind, a purpose and a will. Bah��s believe that the only way to reach God or get closer to him is by prayer, mediation, good will, learning the holy writings, and by service to others.

Rituals and festivals

Bah��s have many different festivals in their religion. They have 11 different holidays in a year which are celebrated for different purposes but the most important is the Festival of Ridvan � a commemoration of the starting of Bah�u�ll�h ‘s Prophethood. It lasts 12 days starting form sunset of April 20th to sunset of May 2nd. It starts from the 32nd day from the beginning of the Bah�� new year. Ridvan means paradise and is named after the garden of Ridvan where the prophet Bah�u�ll�h stayed for twelve before being exiled by the Ottoman Empire from Baghdad to Constantinople, the seat of the Ottoman Empire. . After being banished from Persia for following the Bab, he lived in Baghdad and was soon again banished from Baghdad for being involved in teaching the Babi community. He arrived in the Garden of Ridvan and declared his prophecy to a small group of Babis and His family. The first, ninth and twelfth day of the festival of Ridvan are considered Holy Days. In the Festival of Ridvan, Bah��s observe three days with the community gatherings, prayers and often followed by celebration. Important Holy Days and festivals to the Bah�� religion are:

 

March 21(The first day of the Bah�� New year)

Holy Days Date
Naw Ruz:
Declaration of Bab: May 23
Ascension of Bah�’u’ll�h May 29
Martyrdom of the B�b July 9
Birth of the Bab October 20
Birth of Bah�u�ll�h November 12
Day of the Covenant November 26
Ascension of `Abdul-Bah� November 28

 

Symbols

Like many other religions in the world, The Bah�� religion also has many symbols to represent its many beliefs.

star One of the Bah�� symbols is a five pointed figure resembling a star. The five pointed star is used in the Bah�� faith because the Bab had chosen it. Another symbol is a nine-pointed star.

pendent The nine pointed star is the most common symbol which refers to number nine. Number 9 has a significant meaning in the Bah�� Faith. It is used more than the five pointed star. The symbol of star is not considered part of holy teachings but it is used because it symbolizes unity and when number nine is converted in the Arabic numerical system the numerical value of Baha is 9. There are many references to the number nine in the Bah�� teachings. For example the number of years that separates the revelation of the Bab and Bah�u�ll�h is 9.

Baha The official symbol of Bah� is also very important to the Bah�� faith. Almost all of the symbols in the Bah�� faith come from the Arabic language which was the language of revelation. This is why it is so important to the Bah�� faith. The word Bah� means �glory� or �splendor�. Bah�� comes from the word Bah�, and it means a follower of Bah�.

Ring Stone Another symbol that is very popular in the Bah�� Faith is the ring stone symbol. It was designed by `Abdul- Bah� who was the son of Bah�u�ll�h. It is a symbol commonly found in necklaces and rings. It has two five pointed stars which are known as the Haykal.. The upper line represents God and the lower line represents humanity and the middle line represents the manifestations of God.

Greatest Name of God The symbol of the Greatest Name is also another very popular symbol in the Bah�� Faith which has important significance to the Bah��s. . The greatest name is calligraphy of the Greatest Name of God which in Arabic means �Y� Bah�’u’l-Abh� �. This Arabic phrase once translated into English means �O Thou the Glory of the Most Glorious�. This symbol is mostly used in Bah�� homes and also in the casket of the dead. It is considered the most sacred symbol of the Bah�� faith and is not used anywhere in a casual manner.

Laws of the Bah�� Religion

Prayer

All Bah��s between the ages of 15 and 70 are required to recite one of the three obligatory prayers every day. The obligatory prayers have their own rites. All Bah��s must face the Qiblih, when they are performing Obligatory Prayer, which is the Shrine of Bah�u�ll�h. Bah��s are only exempt from prayer if they are in ill condition, sick, in danger, or if a female is going through menstruation.

Fasting

All Bah��s must fast at least once a year in the Bah�� month of ALA which goes from March 2 to March 20. All Bah��s from the age of 15 to 70 must observe the fast and refrain from eating and drinking form sunrise to sunset. The Bah�� fasting period begins with the end of the Inter-Calary days and ends with the festival of Naw Ruz. . Bah��s who are ill, traveling, pregnant, nursing, women in menstruation, and those under heavy labor are exempt from the fasting. .

Marriage and Divorce

Marriage is highly recommended in the Bah�� religion. Any Bah�� older than 15 years of age is allowed to marry with the consent of his/her parents, provided that the civil laws of country where he/she resides permit such marriage. Marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Bah��s believe marriage is the foundation and structure of human society. Bah��s believe that marriage is an eternal bond between the wife and the husband and therefore it will endure past the physical life and will continue into the spiritual words of Gods. . Sexuality is only allowed in married life and homosexuality is not allowed. When a man marries a woman he must give his wife a dowry. This means that the husband has to give his wife 2.2 troy ounces of gold or silver. . Divorce in the Bah�� religion is allowed but discouraged.

Inheritance

The Bah�� religion states that each Bah�� must write a will in which he or she can distribute his or her property in any manner he wishes. If no will is written, the property will be distributed to heirs according to the Bah�� law of inheritance.

Further Readings

 

  1. Hinduism by Wikipedia
  2. Buddhism by Wikipedia
  3. Islam by Wikipedia
  4. Christianity by Wikipedia
  5. Jainism by Wikipedia
  6. Bahaism by Wikipedia
  7. Friendly Feudalism

The content of this page was written by Raunak Nepal as part of his school assignment. Raunak is a Grade 12 student, who lives in Ottawa.

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