Ask the Baha'i Woman

In this thread, I got a request from Polycarp to start this thread. To start with his questions:
The Baha’i Faith started in Iran in the mid 1800’s. Our Prophet/Founder was called Baha’u’llah (The Glory Of God). He was born of a Muslim nobleman, but as He got older, became convinced that He was a Messenger of God.

How do Baha’is view Jesus, Mohammad, Moses, et al? We believe in something we call Progressive Revelation. Essentially, this means that God sends Prophets to Earth to teach us what we are ready to learn. All of the major religions are True, because they are all from God.

What do Baha’is believe? We believe that there is only one God, and that He wants us to be happy, and has given us everything we need to attain happiness. We believe that women and men are equal, and we believe in racial equality. We believe in independent investigation of the truth. We believe that we have a duty to at least be familiar with all the major world religions.

What about an afterlife? We believe there is an afterlife, and that it is essentially, a continuation of this one. The ultimate goal, in the afterlife, is to attain the presence of God. However, we cannot attain His presence until we are spiritually pure. We strive for spiritual purity in this world, so when we die, how much more work we have to do depends on how far we got in this life. Hell is merely the separation from God.

Some Baha’i laws:
Don’t murder anyone. Don’t steal. No gossiping or backbiting (this one, I struggle with a lot!). Bathe regularly. Be kind. Educate yourself, and see to it that your children are educated. Keep your fingernails and toenails trimmed. Don’t use drugs or get drunk. Pray daily. Observe the Fast unless you fall under one of the exemptions.

Obviously, this is Baha’i Lite. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

If all the religions are true, why do they all say completely different (and often contradictory) things?

What kinds of fasts are there? For what reason is each fast? (i.e. christians fast during the 40 days of lent to remember that Jesus spent 40 days in the desert before Palm Sunday)

What are church/temple/mosque services like?

What are the religious holidays and what do they signify?

Aside from the over-imbibing, are there any food restrictions?

How can that statement be reconciled with the fact that most major religions tend to view each other as false? For example, if you have Religion A and Religion B, where A claims that B is a false religion, and B claims that A is a false religion, then it is not possible for Religion C to claim that they are both true, since that would also entail that they both be false.

What do you think of the transmigration of souls?

And why major world religions? Are the worshipers of Siva more right than say, the Yezedi, because they are more populous?

One ultimate goal of the Baha’is is to have a single world government, governed by the principles of Baha’ism. What is the Baha’i plan for bringing this into effect? Is there any provision for trying to establish this government by force, or is it something that would develop naturally as the entire world is converted to Baha’ism? Is it assumed that everybody living under such a government would be Baha’i?

I think it was Mahatma Gandhi (although it might’ve just been conveniently attributed to him) who said that the world’s different religions are like different paths up a mountain. They start off from different positions and take different and apparently contradictory paths, but ultimately they converge —at the mountain’s peak.

And there’s no wrong way to climb the mountain.

Actually, some of us believe there is only one way up the mountain.

For the Ba’hai woman:
What are your views on Jesus?
Was He God?
Did He die for our salvation?
Do you have prophets nowadays?

I wish I’d known you were Baha’i back around the time of PennDope. I’m sure I missed all kinds of fascinating philosophical discussions. I’m an agnostic apathetic myself (I don’t know, and I don’t care :)) but of all the major religions, I think I admire Baha’i the most (probably because it’s really the most gentle and inclusive), and it’s always been something I’ve been interested in knowing more about, in a casual way. Which is why I’m not actually going to ask anything at the moment and just observe the thread. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the thread! I think I often get you guys confused with Jains or Sikhs

How many Baha’is are there in America? Do you have temples? What position do you take on abortion, the death penalty, social justice, etc.? Are you allowed to marry outside the faith? Are marriages arranged or are you allowed to marry “for love”? Which jobs are you allowed to hold? Do you believe in higher education?

I have nothing to ask. I just wanted to commend you for starting this thread and taking it upon yourself to answer these questions. Thank you.

That might have a lot to do with why they believe we need the occasional prophet to come down and explain things to us. That would certainly make Christianity a lot more understandable if every once in a while another guy came down and said, “No, really, it’s thou shalt not kill… NOT! NOT! Got it? Great.”

Ba’hai anecdote time:

I was at my dojo once getting ready for class; I had been a little down lately because of work and money issues, but no particular big deal. One of the kids who’s a student at the dojo, he was about seven years old, walks up to me and hands me a Ba’hai tract. I thought to myself, “I realize I’ve been a little down lately, but if a little kid thinks I need spiritual advice… dang.”

Turns out my wife had been talking about the faith with the kid’s mom, and said mom had agreed to get a tract to us so my wife could read it. It wasn’t for me. :rolleyes: :smack:

Dear Baha’i woman:

Ever been to Haifa? 'Cause you guys have one kickass temple.

What are the ‘issues’, if any, of Baha’i? Or perhaps this is better asked as: Are there any aspects of Baha’i belief/doctrine/practice that are considered fundamental, yet are sharply at odds with some everyday aspect of the secular world (in the same way, for example, that Christianity - or some elements of it at least - has creationism which is sharply at odds with mainstream science)

They’re not as inclusive as they seem at first.

Quick disclaimer:

This isn’t meant to be an attack on the Baha’i faith or Baha’is themselves including the OP. This is just meant to get some information out that I think may be revelvant to the discussion.

Anyway, I was fairly active in the Baha’i community in my hometown for almost 2 years. I never got around to “converting” because I tend to become very serious about my spiritual beliefs and I would never make a “half-assed” commitment to something if I didn’t truly undestand it, and agree with it, inside and out. It interested me at the time because I did agree with most of what it taught, and, since I was in an interracial relationship at the time (we’re married now) it seemed to be a safe and comfortable religious community in which to raise a biracial child.

After I found out about the Baha’i faith, I pretty much jumped in with both feet. I went to many “firesides” (informal gatherings usually held in a member’s home for fellowship & discussion) and participated in many holidays and celebrations… I even participated in the fast. I still have most of the Baha’i literature that I bought (somewhere). Then, one day, while considering whether to make an official commitment to the faith, I ran across this page on Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. I still went to gatherings, but it was few and far between. I eventually stopped going altogether and severed my ties with the Baha’i faith.

Although I was a bit heartbroken, and still am, I still have the utmost respect for the faith and it’s members and I remember my Baha’i friends and the discussions we had quite fondly. It’s really the bureaucracy that I have a problem with.

I hope no one takes this post the wrong way. I just wanted to let you guys know about this stance in case any of you were seriously interested in following this path.

the contradictions are usually edits to religion by people. I agree with the bahai (I am supposed to be Hindu). All major religions preach pretty much the same thing. Just follow a good life, be moral, do what is generally considered good. All organised religion is a quagmire of rules and laws designed or intended to suppress, promote, discriminate, dessimate or any various disingeneous intentions of humans

Wow! I was pretty sick last night and into this morning, so I’ve been gone. . .I come back, and, bam! I’m inundated. I’ll try to get everyone, and answer you’re questions as well as I can.

Actually, the core beliefs of the major religions are pretty much in agreement. You come into contradictory belief when you’re talking about minor stuff. Or sometimes when the original core doctrine, revealed by a Messenger of God, has been twisted and altered by a regular joe down the line, looking to increase his own wealth, or promote his own agenda. The Baha’i faith battles this problem by having one ruling counsel (The Universal House of Justice) which is comprised of people who are wholly elected by every voting Baha’i. There are other contradictions, of course. Sometimes, rules that were seen as necessary at the time of their revelation become less important with successive revelations. I personally believe that God and His truth are large enough to encompass a multitude of things.

We observe one 19-day fast per year. From March 2-21, sunup to sundown, we abstain from eating and drinking (there are exemptions from these. Aside from the specific exemptions in our Holy Book, if a doctor thinks it’s a bad idea for someone to fast, you are excused; for instance, since I suffer from kidney stones, it would be a bad idea for me to not drink all day. I still don’t eat, but I do drink water and coffee, the two beverages recommended by my doctor). The purpose of this fast is to turn away from physical, animal needs and turn towards our spirituality.

We only have one temple here in America, outisde of Chicago. On a whole, we believe that until other social problems are addressed, we have better things to do with our funds than build temples. We have meetings in designated buildings or in members’ homes. A fireside (open to anyone) would probably consist of some prayers, reading of Scriptures (ours and those of other faiths), conversation, and probably refreshments. Deepenings, also opened to anyone, usually focus on one particular writing, either Baha’i or of another faith. We have deepenings on the Bible, the Qu’ran, the Bagavad Ghita, and Baha’i writings. The 19-day-feast is closed to non-Baha’is. We start with prayers, maybe some scripture readings, and then (and this is why it’s closed) move on to administrative business. Since the faith has no clergy, every member of a group or Assembly gets a say in administrative manners. We usually close Feast with refreshments and fellowship.

21 March Naw Ruz, the Baha’i new year

21 April First Day of Ridvan. The 12-day Festival of Ridvan commemorates Baha’u’llah’s public declaration of His mission in the Garden of Ridvan in Baghdad in 1863. The first, ninth and twelfth days are regarded as particularly holy.

29 April Ninth Day of Ridvan

2 May Twelfth Day of Ridvan

23 May Declaration of the Bab. The Bab was the forerunner of Baha’u’llah. This day marks the anniversary of the Bab’s declaration of His mission in 1844.

29 May Ascension of Baha’u’llah. This day marks the passing of Baha’u’llah in 1892.

9 July Martyrdom of the Bab. The Bab was executed by firing squad in Tabriz on this day in 1850.

20 October Birth of the Bab

12 November Birth of Baha’u’llah

Other special days
26 February-1 March Ayyam-i-Ha, the Intercalary Days, reserved for charity, gift-giving and festivities

2-20 March Fasting month, during which Baha’is over the age of 15 years do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset.

26 November Day of the Covenant. This day celebrates Baha’u’llah’s appointment of His son, Abdu’l-Baha, as the Centre of the Covenant, to whom His followers should turn after His passing. Suspension of work is not obligatory on this holy day.

28 November Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha. This day marks the passing of Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah, in 1921. Suspension of work is not obligatory on this holy day.

There are some nit-picky little things, like you’re not supposed to reach your hands into a serving platter, and if you kill an animal for food, there’s a little prayer you’re supposed to say first. Since I don’t hunt, I don’t know the prayer. I’d have to look it up.

I’m not quite sure what you mean by transmigration of souls, so I’ll leave that one alone, out of my own ignorance. As for the major world religions, they are the ones we address, because we know enough about them. We certainly can’t say “all religions are true” because you have the nuttier ones like Scientology. The small ones, I’d have to know more about than I know to decide how I feel about them.

Jesus was one of the Messengers of God. He was sent to bring us Commandments, and a new Covenant.

Abdul-Baha’, a central figure in our faith explained it best, I think (he was really good at explaining things). If a mirror reflects the sun, we can look into the mirror, at the reflection of the sun, and say, quite truthfully, “that is the sun”. In order to reflect something perfectly, a mirror must be flawless and perfectly polished. While all people are capable of reflecting the attributes of God (hence, “we were created in His image”), only the few chosen Messengers of God act as perfectly polished, flawless reflectors of His image. Jesus was God in that, in Him, we could clearly see God.

All of the Prophets of God have suffered for us, and in dying, have taught us about how to live.

The Kitab-i-Aqdas (our Holy Book) clearly states that there will be another Prophet, but not before the passage of one thousand years.

Jayjay, I’m sorry, too. Maybe next time, huh? Not that I’m looking to convert. I have these discussions with my atheist husband all the time.

Love your username, btw. I don’t know how many of us are in America (although I’m sure I could find out), but there are roughly 7M of us world wide. Abortion? We believe abortion is wrong, but in all things, current medical knowledge must take precedent over belief. Therefore, if I were pregnant, and a doctor told me that carrying the baby to term would kill me, I think I’d be on safe moral ground to have an abortion. I personally don’t think that abortions should be made illegal because I don’t know who would be a good arbiter about who has a “good enough” reason for abortion. The death penalty: the Aqdas clearly calls for the execution of someone who is guilty of murder. It then goes on to sasy that if the laws of a certain place don’t allow for the death penalty, then whatever punishment the law allows for is acceptable. Social justice deserves its’ own thread! Within the Baha’i community, we have consultation with which to settle our grievances. Outside of the community, each of us does what we can to be fair and to see that fairness is done. Allowed to marry outside the faith? Absolutely. Baha’i marriage ceremony cannot be combined with another ceremony, though, and if you want a Baha’i ceremony in addition to say, a Christian or Jewish ceremony, you have to do it separately, but within 24 hours. Arranged marriages? In some cultures in which the faith is prevalent, arranged marriages are still practiced, but is not endorsed by the faith on a whole. However, all marriages between a Baha’i and anyone, Baha’i or not, must get the approval of both sets of parents. Which jobs are we allowed to hold? In the Baha’i faith, we consider work to be worship. Whatever our job is (and it is supposed to be something that is beneficial to mankind), if we are doing it to the best of our ability, it’s the same as praying. The whole “beneficial to mankind” thing is the only restriction. We absolutely believe in higher education. God gave us brains so we can use them!

No, but I’ve seen pictures! Right now, there’s about an eight year waiting list to go on pilgrimage. I hope to go when I’m in my 50s. All Bahai’s are supposed to go, unless it would cause a hardship to them or their families.

The biggest one is our rule against practicing homosexuality, which I will get to when I address gooti. Nothing that really contradicts science, because we believe that when science and religion disagree, it’s because there’s something we just don’t understand yet. Science and religion can, and should, agree.

gooti, my own beliefs about homosexuality are this: I am straight, I’m married to a man, we’re happy. It’s all cool, and it works for me, because I chose to be a Baha’i. I don’t believe that homosexuality on a whole is “wrong” or “immoral”. I don’t believe that anyone who is not Baha’i has any kind of obligaiton to follow our rules. I also believe that at the time this law was set down, there was a reason for it (although I cannot imagine what it was, we’re talkin’ about God here, there’s a lot about Him I can’t imagine). I also believe that eventually, maybe when the next Prophet comes, all that will be done away with.

Didn’t mean to skip your question, just got confused. We are certainly not interested in establishing anything by force! In fact, Abdul-Baha’ once said that any religion that needs to rely on violence and force is worse than no religion at all! We have been promised (even in The Lord’s Prayer) that a peaceful world will come. It will unfold as it should. Will we all be Baha’is? I would assume not, since by then, there probably will have been yet another Prophet, bringing a new Covenant. If we’re not all Baha’is, how will it work? I dunno. Maybe with a lot of mutual respect and love and stuff.


norinew, you said:

>>>I don’t believe that homosexuality on a whole is “wrong” or “immoral”.
And you say
>>>my own beliefs about homosexuality are this: I am straight, I’m married to a
>>>man, we’re happy. It’s all cool, and it works for me, because I chose to be a
When you say, “it works for me”, I assume you mean “it” to mean the Baha’i faith as a whole. If you don’t have any moral problems with homosexuality and you don’t see it as wrong, how does it “work for you” when your religion is strictly against it? I see serious disconnect there.

mouthbreather, there’s really no disconnect, as far as I’m concerned. Think of it in terms of the Jewish injunctions against eating pork. These people don’t have a problem with Judaism, but also don’t believe that non-Jews are wrong for eating pork chops. Everyone needs to find their own path to God (and some people choose no path at all). I feel a definite personal draw to the Baha’i path, and in fact, did not make the decision to be a Baha’i lightly at all. But if it doesn’t work for you, then you shouldn’t do it.

I’m reading with interest, pleasure, and gratitude to you, Norine, for starting this thread. I expect to have a bunch of questions.

One that comes to mind, though, is the idea that Moses and Mohammed are regarded (by Jews and Moslems respectively) as human beings – ones specially gifted with revelation, but no more, and not in a class with the God for whom they spoke.

For Christians, Jesus, on the other hand, is regarded as the incarnation of God the Son, one of the three Persons comprising the Godhead in the Holy Trinity.

I get the impression that the Baha’i “mirrors” concept says something more than Mohammed-as-Prophet and something less than Jesus-as-Divine-Son. But I don’t get a real handle on it. Wanna go into what you regard Baha’ullah as, in terms of “just a man, albeit a means of revelation” vs. “an incarnation of God” vs. something else?