A look at the Bahá’í Faith, growing in turbulent time
As we learn how to navigate these extraordinary times and challenges, we seek shelter, consolation and guidance in what we know to be steadfast. For me, this is found in my faith as a Baháí. This may be the first time some of you are hearing of this faith. It is a newer faith but it is one of the fastest-growing religions. You will find over 6 million Baháís in 100,000 communities in 236 countries throughout the world.
These times prompted my deepening understanding, which clarified the timeliness of the messages of the Bahá’í Faith and their relevance for the current state of the world. Key principles of the Baháí Faith include:
❚ Oneness of Mankind – Universal Education – Equality of Women and Men – Elimination of All Forms of
❚ Prejudice – Abolition of Extremes of Wealth and Poverty – Universal Auxiliary Language – Harmony of
❚ Science and Religion – Promise of World Peace.
Perhaps it is this pandemic demonstrating like never before how connected we are as a global family, one race — the human race. What affects one is affecting the many. We are seeing the results of centuries of societal inequalities in the many lives lost not only from the ravages of the disease but the health issues prevalent in certain communities due to lack of access to education, care and resources.
The current crisis is a wake-up call to address that which has been laid bare by the current afflictions of not only the pandemic but the seeds sown in separation, injustice and lack of understanding. The good news that may be born of this time includes recognizing the problems’ existence as a crucial first step, then to draw upon sacred texts for inspiration in finding solutions. I cherish the original preserved writings in the Baháí Faith that offer us a divine foundation to build a better world upon.
Baháís worldwide celebrated two of our holy days honoring the two recent Divine Manifestations of God, the Báb (meaning the Gate) and Bahá’u’lláh (meaning Glory of God).
On May 23, Baháís marked the Declaration of the Báb. Born Siyyid Ali-Muhammad in Shiraz, Persia, He was called by God early in His life to lay the groundwork for the Promised One still to come.
It was on May 23, 1844, amidst turbulent societal challenges that He would declare to be the One foretold in many different religious scriptures.
“I am,” thrice exclaimed the Báb. “I am, I am the promised One! I am the One whose name you have for a thousand years invoked at whose mention you have risen, whose advent you have longed to witness, and the hour of whose Revelation you have prayed God to hasten.”
The Báb would awaken the hearts and minds of all that He encountered. His writings, devotion to God and eventual martyrdom in 1850 would usher in the Promised One He had foretold: Bahá’u’lláh.
Bahá’u’lláh served to unify all humanity and to awaken them to lessons of the new day.
“We, verily, have come to unite and weld together all that dwell on Earth. Strive, O people of God, that haply the hearts of the divers kindreds of the Earth may, through the waters of your forbearance and loving-kindness, be cleansed and sanctified from animosity and hatred.”
The growing support and endearment to Bahá’u’lláh enraged and threatened religious and political authorities. Bahá’u’lláh and his family were exiled and imprisoned for 40 years, in horrific conditions.
On May 29, 1892, Bahá’u’lláh would die of natural causes in the prison city of Akka. Baháís celebrated the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh on May 28.
Angelina Ghrist is the Baha’i representative of the Arizona Interfaith Movement Council.
Angelina Ghrist Guest columnist
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