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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

New Approaches to Old Problems

Bahŕ'í efforts in education, enviroment and development

Bahá'ís understand that the dramatic changes and transformations we have witnessed over the last century--and which we are continuing to sec have been initiated by the coming of a new Messenger of God and influenced by the breaking light of a new Revelation.

Although its numbers and resources are still limited when compared with those at the disposal of some of the much older religious bodies--not to mention governments and international agencies--the worldwide Bahá'í community has in recent years launched what amounts to a comprehensive effort to address the problems of underdevelopment and environmental degradation around the world.

This effort is significant not for its size or scale, but rather for the fresh and hopeful model it offers to the world.

According to the most recent count, Bahá'í communities operate more than 1,300 local development projects around the world. These efforts range from simple literacy centers to reforestation efforts, from health clinics to environmental research centers. The largest share of these projects is in the developing world.

What sets the Bahá'í approach apart is its integration of the distinctive spiritual, social and administrative principles outlined a century ago by Bahá'u'lláh. In each separate sphere covered by these principles--whether in terms of spiritual understanding, social ideals, or administrative procedure--the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh offer fresh approaches and insights.

When taken as an integrated whole, the impact is multiplied: Bahá'ís believe that the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh provide a set of comprehensive tools for the type of collective social action necessary for humanity to survive and prosper in this new age.

The spiritual teachings of Bahá'u'lláh emphasize self-reliance and self-sufficiency, and they promote a holistic and world-embracing approach in understanding social problems and their underlying causes. Perhaps more important, Bahá'u'lláh's teachings connect with the deepest elements of human nature elements which are inherently spiritual--and in doing so tap into the motivational powers of the human spirit.

The social teachings of Bahá'u'lláh provide a standard for progressive action and moral conduct that is not only consistent with the highest ideals of modern society, but conforms to its innermost aspirations. They are the embodiment of justice, and have direct and practical applications in efforts to solve social problems.

For example, efforts to alleviate poverty cannot be divorced from activities that promote full equality for women. The vast majority of the world's poor are women and children. In many developing countries, especially in Africa, women farmers grow much of the food. Bahá'ís believe that efforts to ensure food security in these regions depend largely on improvements to the status of women. Issues of development and environment are equally dependent on finding solutions to problems of racism, under-education, and religious strife.

The administrative order created by Bahá'u'lláh, likewise, represents a new approach to social action. The structure of the worldwide network of local, national and international Bahá'í governing councils suggests a new model for decentralized administration. This is especially true for local Spiritual Assemblies, which can be seen as grassroots level decision-making agencies capable of understanding and acting on development choices.

Further, the procedures of consultation, as practiced by Bahá'ís, can be applied in a wide variety of other settings to stimulate cooperation and social development. [See page 43 on Consultation.] continues continues


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


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Photo from page 62
The Bread and Peace the theater troupe, which is sponsored by the Bahá'í radio station in Puna, Peru, uses traditional costumes and characters to present information on health and hygiene. The troupe is shown performing El Returno del Robachicos (The Return of the Báby-snatchers), a play designed to educate mothers about simple infant health care measures.

Photo from page 63
At the Bahá'í Vocational Institute for Rural Women in Indore, India, young women from rennote villages learn not only sewing and other marketable skills, but also how to read and write.

 

 


 

 

 

 

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