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

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Contents : Contents
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 Covenant

Bahá'ís believe that the distinctive unity of the Bahá'í Faith stems from a promise from God to humanity that assures His continuing guidance after the passing of Bahá'u'lláh. This promise is referred to as the Covenant.

The idea of a covenant between man and God is, of course, familiar to the followers of many religions. Many Jews understand that God entered into a covenant with them, promising to guide them as long as they obeyed His laws. Many Christians, too, understand that Jesus entered into a new covenant with His followers.

For Bahá'ís, the Covenant made by Bahá'u'lláh is both a renewal of the promise of Divine guidance and a system that ensures its continuance. Specifically, the Covenant can be understood to be synonymous with the line of succession described in the Will and Testament of Bahá'u'lláh. This line goes from Bahá'u'lláh to His son, `Abdu'l-Bahá, and then from `Abdu'l-Bahá to His grandson, Shoghi Effendi, and to the Universal House of Justice.

To be faithful to the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh is to be obedient to Him as God's Messenger. This means to accept the authority of His appointed successors and to adhere to the arrangements He made for the advancement of His Faith. To break the Covenant is to reject or deliberately attempt to usurp or undermine the authority Bahá'u'lláh has established, while still claiming to be a Bahá'í. Such an action constitutes an attack on the unity which is the Faith's distinguishing characteristic.

Anyone who persistently engages in such behavior becomes known as a Covenant-breaker and is therefore denied access to the Bahá'í community. Such a person can gain re-admittance through genuine repentance.

Moral shortcomings, such as a failure to conform to Bahá'í standards, are not a breach of the Covenant.

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


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