Bahá’í Faith: A Belief In The Oneness Of Religion And Humanity
With just eight Continental Houses of Worship around the world, and a few local and national Houses of Worship currently in construction in various countries, the Bahá’í Faith may not be familiar to most people. After all, the religion is only around 200 years old.
The teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet Founder of the Faith, provides a compelling vision and means for the creation of a united and just world that embraces the diversity of the human race.
Bahá’ís believe in collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds be they friends, family, neighbours, or co-workers, to put what they have learnt into action for the betterment of society.
Key Tenets of the Bahá’í Faith
If there is one thing that stands out about the Bahá’í Faith, it is the principle of oneness – oneness of religion and oneness of humankind.
One God, One Human Family
Bahá’ís believe that the exalted figures of all religions, from Abraham to Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, were sent by one and the same God. They were Divine Educators, or Manifestations of God, who provided divine guidance progressively for humanity’s social and spiritual advancement.
Key to the Bahá’í Faith, too, is the conviction that everyone belongs to one human family. This mindset calls for the elimination of prejudice in any form, whether it is race-, religion-, nation- or gender-related.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Promised One
Bahá’ís are of the opinion that the most recent Divine Educator, Bahá’u’lláh, is The Promised One of God’s divine messengers.
Bahá’u’lláh, whose name means “Glory of God”, revealed thousands of essays, letters and books – including the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book. His call is for unity is on a scale that has never been attempted before by his predecessors: God’s work for him is to bring about the unification of the entire human race.
Bahá’u’lláh likens the world of humanity to the human body, in which millions of cells, though diverse in form and function, each play a part in maintaining a healthy body system.
In his writings, he posits: “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”.
The Bahá’í Faith in Practice
The Bahá’í community in Singapore is modest in size, numbering around 2,000 as of 2020. The bedrock of the Bahá’í community life is the Nineteen Day Feast, where members gather to pray, discuss matters relating to the welfare of the community, and engage in fellowship every 19 days.
Bahá’ís are encouraged to cultivate the habit of praying in the morning and evening, and are required to recite one of the three Obligatory Prayers in private daily. In addition, a number of them also gather with family, friends and neighbours to offer prayers in devotional settings.
Followers of the faith spend time in private study and personal reflection on the writings of Bahá’u’lláh as well. The learning continues through educational programmes by the Training Institute, open to all, with the aim of gaining spiritual insights and practical skills to make a difference within their fields of influence.
The holiest festival in the Bahá’í calendar is Riḍván, which commemorates the 12 days that Bahá’u’lláh spent with his family and followers in Baghdad, gathered at a garden that he named Riḍván, meaning “paradise”.
During this time, he declared that he was the Manifestation of God, the Promised One that his predecessor, the Bab, was referring to. He also took the opportunity to share the foundational spiritual principles at the heart of his teachings with the audience.
On the first day of the festival, Bahá’ís all over the world receive and read a Riḍván message from the Universal House of Justice, the international governing council of the Bahá’í Faith, and also elect their local governing councils. Conventions, gatherings and festivities continue throughout the 12-day celebration.
Twin Holy Days – Birth of the Báb and Birth of Bahá’u’lláh
The Twin Holy Days – two successive Bahá’í festival marking the birthdays of the Bab and Bahá’u’lláh – are significant events in the Bahá’í Faith.
Born just a day shy of two years earlier than Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, whose name means “the Gate”, was the forerunner of the former. His mission from God was to herald the arrival and open the way for the coming of Baha’u’llah.
The double celebration of the birthdays of the two Manifestations of God in the Bahá’í Faith holds great meaning for Bahá’ís around the world. They mark this joyous time of the year by coming together to pray, read the writings of the faith, reflect on the purpose and implications of the appearance of the Manifestations of God in the world, and express their joy through song and dance.
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