Friday, December 30, 2005

Bahai

The penultimate day of our month-long religion series . . . .


According to the Baha'i faith revelation from God is a continuing process. Baha'i recognizes the "major religions' founders including Adam, Noah, Zoroaster (Zarathustra), Krishna, Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Like Muslims, Bahá'ís interpret religious history in terms of a series of prophetic dispensations. Each prophet, or Manifestation, brings a somewhat broader and more advanced revelation for the time and place it appeared in." Wikipedia.

Further explanation of the Baha'i perspective on prophets:
The Bahá'í doctrine of the oneness of the Manifestations does not mean that the same individual soul is born again in different physical bodies. Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and Bahá'u'lláh were all different personalities, separate individual realities. Their oneness lies in the fact that Each manifested and revealed the qualities and attributes of God to the same degree: the spirit of God which dwelled within any one of Them was identical to that which dwelled in the others.
From bahai.org

Baha'i originated in Iran in the 19th century, which may explain the apparently strong influence of Islam on Baha'i theology. I will admit that the Baha'it perspective, which attempts to bring together and build on the world's major religious traditions holds great appeal. Add to this appeal that Baha'i principles emphasize universal education, equality among race and gender, and a harmony between religion and science.

Critics of Baha'i point to its requirement that the only acceptable sexual relations are those between man and wife as evidence of anti-homosexuality in Baha'i; this does seem antiquated for an otherwise progressive-seeming religion. Then again, the stance does not seem that different from those taken by Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

The Baha'i website claims that there are currently five million Baha'i in the world today. Baha'i holds
that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. God, Bahá'u'lláh said, has set in motion historical forces that are breaking down traditional barriers of race, class, creed, and nation and that will, in time, give birth to a universal civilization. The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and to assist the processes of unification.
bahai.org.

As wonderful as this sounds, it is quite hard to see this happening anytime soon. Almost anywhere you look--Paris, Kashmir, the West Bank, New Orleans, Sudan, China, Australia--these traditional barriers seem as strong as ever.

2 comments:

Meredith said...

My ex-boyfriend was a Baha'i, born and raised. I accompanied him to the US temple right outside of Chicago, and it's a very beautiful and holy place. I'm not religious or even theist myself, but it's a very nice idea, isn't it? I agree that it is a very idealistic religion, but all the Baha'is I've met are interesting, wonderful people.

Octopus Grigori said...

It is a very nice idea; it's quite wonderful how Baha'i synthesizes the world's religions.

Thanks for visiting!