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A Profile of the Bahá'í Faith and its Worldwide Community

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bullet.gif (837 bytes) The Bahá'ís
bullet.gif (837 bytes) Unity in Diversity
bullet.gif (837 bytes) Bahá'u'lláh
bullet1.gif (837 bytes) Social and Moral
Teachings
bullet1.gif (837 bytes) Spiritual Beliefs of
the Bahá'í Faith
bullet1.gif (837 bytes) A System for
Global Governance
bullet1.gif (837 bytes) A Century of
Growth and
Expansion
bullet1.gif (837 bytes) New Approaches
to Old Problems
bullet1.gif (837 bytes) Towards the New
World Order

The Oneness of Humanity

The idea that all humanity is one race forms the foundation for the other principles of social justice in the Bahá'í Faith. Bahá'u'lláh condemned racial and ethnic prejudice, urging: "Close your eyes to racial differences, and welcome all with the light of oneness."

"Women and men have been and will always be equal in the sight of God." -- Bahá'u'lláh

Bahá'u'lláh also unequivocally proclaimed the equality of the sexes--at a time when the women's movement was only beginning its fight for suffrage in the West and such ideas were unheard of in the Middle East--thus becoming the first Founder of a world religion to explicitly uphold strict equality for women and men.

Indeed, girls should receive priority in education--if by some circumstance a family (or a society) cannot afford to educate its children equally. "Until the reality of equality between men and women is fully established and attained, the highest social development of mankind is not possible," the Bahá'í scriptures state.

"He Who is your lord, the All-Merciful, cherisheth in His heart the desire of beholding the entire human race as one soul and one body." -- Bahá'u'lláh

This challenge to full equality does not ignore natural differences between the sexes. Bahá'u'lláh emphasized the importance of motherhood, fatherhood and family life.

Bahá'u'lláh's call for economic justice also reflects His central theme of human oneness. He wrote extensively about the necessity of promoting economic justice and proposed specific remedies to help control the extreme inequalities of wealth in human society. The redistribution of wealth through a tax on income, for example, and the concept of profit-sharing are both promoted in His teachings.

Education is given a special emphasis as humanity is considered capable of tremendous progress and advancement. "Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value," wrote Bahá'u'lláh. "Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom."

Education, accordingly, should be universal and should incorporate positive spiritual values and moral attitudes. Bahá'ís envision a future in which even "basic education" goes beyond rote learning and the teaching of simple skills. Students must be given the tools to analyze social conditions and requirements themselves, to take part in community planning and action, and to investigate truth on their own. The oneness of humanity is an essential element of every Bahá'í curriculum.


Science and Religion

The theme of unity also emerges in Bahá'u'lláh's teachings on science. His writings portray science and religion as different yet harmonious approaches to the comprehension of reality. These two paths are essentially compatible and mutually reinforcing.

Scientific method is humanity's tool for understanding the physical side of the universe. It can describe the composition of an atomic nucleus or the molecular structure of DNA. It is the key to new technologies. Science cannot, however, guide us in the use of such knowledge. The revelation of God offers to humanity a basis for values and purpose. It provides answers to those questions of morals, human purpose, and our relationship to God that science cannot approach.

The independent investigation of reality, whether scientific or religious, is strongly encouraged in Bahá'u'lláh's writings. Individuals should strive, He said, to free themselves from prejudices, preconceptions and reliance on tradition or traditional authorities. Consultation is a critical tool for discovering truth. [See page 43]. Bahá'u'lláh also called for the adoption of a universal auxiliary language as a means to promote unity. "The day is approaching when all the peoples of the world will have adopted one universal language and one common script," He wrote. "When this is achieved, to whatsoever city a man may journey, it shall be as if he were entering his own home." The term "auxiliary" is important: Bahá'u'lláh's injuction is not a mandate for cultural uniformity. Indeed, the Bahá'í teachings both value and promote cultural diversity.

When first outlined by Bahá'u'lláh more than 100 years ago, these principles were as radical as any social program ever drafted. The fact that they have not only borne the passage of time, but, indeed, become ever more widely proclaimed and recognized is a testimony to the vision that produced them.

Bahá'u'lláh's moral code for the individual, and His pattern for marriage and family life [see page 30], are wholly consonant with the genuine needs of modern society. As with the social principles, the laws of Bahá'u'lláh on individual morality and family structure are aimed at the promotion of unity and well-being for society at large. "They whom God hath endued with insight will readily recognize that the precepts laid down by God constitute the highest means for the maintenance of order in the world and the security of its peoples," Bahá'u'lláh wrote.

"The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established" --Bahá'u'lláh

This insight--that the standards for social justice and individual conduct outlined by Bahá'u'lláh offer an integrated and distinctive approach to the apparently intractable problems faced by humanity today--underlies the essential optimism of the worldwide Bahá'í community. Whether considering the threat of environmental degradation, the cancer of racism, or the erosion of the family, Bahá'ís believe firmly that answers are available in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Their commitment is to share these insights with the world.

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"Excerpted from The Bahá'ís, a publication of the Bahá'í International Community."


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Photo from page 29
Bahá'ís work on a mural at a "Peace Fair" in Australia.

Photo from page 30
A Bahá'í tutorial school in Paraguay. From their earliest years, Bahá'í children are encouraged to develop their spiritual and intellectual capacities.

 

 


 

 

 

 

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