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The Bahai Faith: Origins and Relevance of a Worldwide Religion - Essay Example

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The Bahai Faith: Origins and Relevance of a Worldwide Religion

Bahá'u'lláh’s life coincided with that of Siyyid Alí Muḥammad Shírází, better known as the Báb (meaning “gate” in Arabic). Like Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb received theistic attention and was cast as the spiritual second coming of John the Baptist.Bahá'u'lláh followed the Báb’s life up until the Báb was sentenced to death for seditious religious activity: a fate that would similarly befall Bahá'u'lláh decades later. Bahá'u'lláh cast himself as the one anticipated by the Báb’s prophecies of a great reformer (Hutter, 2005). After the first Bahá'í communities were formed by Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'u'lláh became interested in religious continuity: handing over leadership of the communities to his son Abbás Effendi in a will that appointed him “Abdu'l-Bahá,” or “center of the covenant.” Like his father and the Báb, Abdu'l-Bahá faced problems with the religious authorities in his own right—living in exile and imprisonment as a result of the Turkish revolution in Persia in 1908. Since the first decade of the 20th century, the Bahá'í Faith has made strides in overcoming.
At the heart of the Bahá'í Faith and the teachings of the Báb are three core principles: the unity of religion, the unity of God, and the unity of mankind (Hutter, 2005). In terms of a unity of religion, the Bahá'í Faith teaches that all religions are manifestations of the same general phenomena as given by revelation. Within each religion, certain general principles such as altruism are universal and consistent. In terms of unity of God, the Baha'i Faith holds that God is unified with the universe—something thought to be eternal and as purposive through the so-called “Messengers of God” (Smith, 2008). In terms of unity of mankind, human beings are brought together by their uniquely rational soul that recognizes man’s relationship with God. Few things in the Baha'i Faith are “sacred” under the strict definition of that concept due to the fact that all things are, in reality, unified. However, the texts that explicate the central tenets of the Faith are considered “sacred” insofar as they provide meaning to the religion. Sacred texts consist of anything written by Baha'u'llah, the Bab, or Abdu'l-Baha, which means few (if any) individuals have the right to interpret and elucidate the meaning of the documents. The most sacred of these texts is the Kitab-i-Aqbas, which was written by Baha'u'llah; among other things, it forms a book of laws governing religious and social conduct (Hatcher and Martin 46). Like Christianity’s Bible, the Kitab-i-Aqbas is an enormously important document in the Baha'i Faith. In fact, very few things in the Baha'i Faith are profane, the opposite of sacred. Because this religion is so tolerant (due to its belief in all-encompassing unity) of other cultures, religions, and belief systems, various sorts of negative language are not profane in a meaningful way. To illustrate this point, it is helpful to characterize and define the worldwide Baha'i community. With approximately, 5 million Baha'is living in the world, the Baha'i Faith is relatively small compared to the major monotheistic religions. However, Baha'is are dispersed rather evenly throughout the world, forming communities in South Asia, Europe, North America, and the Middle East. The central organization of the Baha'i Faith conducted travel teaching efforts throughout the mid-20th century that brought the religion to every corner of the globe. Having started in Persia, it is not a surprise that the densest concentration of Baha'i adherents resides in modern-day Iran, where the Faith is the ...Show more
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Summary

The religion originated in 19th-century Persia, where it was founded by Bahá'u'lláh, a supposed messenger from God who was persecuted for teaching ideas discordant with the dominant Persian and Ottoman authorities. …
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