Baha'i is a fairly new faith dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. However, since then more than 7 million people, world wide have joined this faith. This leaves one to wonder how this faith came to be one of the world religions in such a short period of time. This paper will examine this thought and many others such as the history, beliefs, and traditions. History
The followers of Baha'is emerged from Iranians who had formerly been Shi'i Muslims (Smith, 1999). According to Breuilly, O'Brien, & Palmer (1997), the Baha'i faith began to take shape when Mirza Husayn Ali, born in 1817, was sent by God to serve as a prophet. Today, Ali is known at Baha'u'llah, meaning Glory of God. As with other prophets, Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, the Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad; Baha'u'llah is considered just as important (Hatcher & Martin, 2002). All of these prophets are viewed as providing a path to salvation which contributes to the carrying forward of an ever advancing civilization (Hatcher & Martin). No one is more or less important as the other as each is sent with a purpose.
In 1884 Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, known as the Bab, announced that he was a Bab, which according to Shi'a tradition means a gate through whom God communicates with humanity (Breuilly, O'Brien, & Palmer, 1997). This announcement left an uneasy feeling through the region. However, Siyyid did gain followers, known as Babis, who believed that a new era of revelation was about to begin.
This revelation left Bab and his followers marked for death. In 1850, Bab was executed for his belief as with many of his followers. However, before Bab died he did say that a new prophet was being sent, this prophet was Baha'u'llah (Breuilly, O'Brien, & Palmer, 1997).
Baha'u'llah was a follower of Bab's, who was arrested after Bab's death. Upon Baha'u'llah's release from prison, he was exiled to the Ottoman Empire. Baha'u'llah then went into hiding for two years. In 1863, Baha'u'llah announced that he was the new prophet. The Ottoman rulers did not know how to respond to this announcement and kept him under house arrest for the next five years. He was then exiled to what we know today as Israel.
After his exile to Israel, the Baha'i faith was allowed to spread. Baha'u'llah enjoyed writing and began to write his messages from God. Upon his death in 1892, he appointed his son, Abdul Baha, the only authority capable of interpreting his revelations (Breuilly, O'Brien, & Palmer, 1997). "During Abdul Baha's time the Baha'is became an international faith" (Breuilly, O'Brien, & Palmer, 1997, p 150).
Baha'i does not consist of any traditional practices or rituals, but they do have different teachings of Baha'u'llah that one should follow. Baha'u'llah teachings consist of may different areas that represent a more meaningful life. One of which is marriage and family, Baha'u'llah teaches that in order to obtain individual spiritual progress one must focus on family. This is considered the basis building block of society. Baha'u'llah encourages marriage, but only monogamy and between opposite sex (Bowers, 2004).
As with most religions, Baha'is strongly discourage divorce. This should only be considered if insurmountable circumstances make it impossible to reconcile. However, husband and wife are expected to try to repair their marriage for at least one year after separation before the divorce is finalized (Bowers, 2004).
Baha'u'llah places great emphasis on the unity of family and the mutual support of its members. "True marriage-the physical and spiritual union of two people with the aim of serving God and humanity is one of the most rewarding and joyous aspects of life" (Bowers, 2004. pp 194 & 195).
Another teaching is of work and services. In this he teaches that people need to be engaged in a profession. It is not important which profession one chooses as long as it is done in the spirit of service (Bowers,...
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BBC religion and ethics. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk on October 6, 2004.
Breuilly, E., O 'Brien, J., & Palmer, M. (1997). Religions of the world: The illustrated guide to origins, beliefs, traditions, and festivals. NY: Transedition Limited and Fernleigh Books.
Bowers, K. E. (2004}. God speaks again: An introduction to the Baha 'i Faith. Wilmette, IL: Baha 'i Publishing
www.goecities.com retrieved on October 16, 2004
Hatcher, W. S., & Martin, J. D. (2002). The Baha 'i faith: The emerging global religion. Wilmette, IL: Baha 'i Publishing
Religious Tolerance.Org, retrieved on October 16, 2004
Smith, P. (1999). The Baha 'i faith: A short story. Oxford: Oneworld Publications.
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