The Baha’i faith is one of the youngest world religions, it was proclaimed in 1844 in Iran which was mainly a Muslim country at the time, by a young Iranian, who called himself The Báb. He said that a messenger would soon arrive from God, who would be the latest in a line of prophets including Moses, Muhammad and Jesus Christ. Baha’i grew out of the Shi’ite branch of the Muslim faith, although Baha’i followers were persecuted by the Muslim hierarchy which lead to The Báb being executed because he taught against the Muslim belief that Muhammad was the final prophet. In 1863, one of the Báb's persecuted followers had a revelation in prison that he was the prophet that the Báb had proclaimed. He called himself Bahá'u'lláh, meaning The Glory of God. Bahá'u'lláh was the founder of the Bahá'í faith and believed to be the most recent manifestation of God. However, Bahá'u'lláh himself stated that he was not the final messenger choosen by God, as God intervenes throughout human history at different times to reveal more of himself through his messengers. There are 6 million Bahá'ís in the world, who are spread across 235 countries and around 6,000 live in Britain.
- Bahá'í believes in a single God who is known through God’s creation and prophets.
- God sends prophets to communicate with the earth and bring revelation. These prophets will continue to bring messages from God
- They believe that each human soul is immortal and moves to another state of existence when their body dies.
- The Bahá'í faith accepts all religions as having true and valid origins. Therefore each different religion is a different approach to the same God.
- Progressive revelation is central to the Bahá'í faith.
- Unity is the pivotal idea within the Baha’i faith, people should work together for the common benefit of humanity. Bahá'u'lláh taught that world unity is the final stage of the evolution of humanity.
- They also believe in equality and human rights for all humanity.
- Membership of the Baha’I faith is open to all those who believe that Bahá'u'lláh is the latest prophet from God but Baha’is do not require converts to renounce their previous faith.
- The writings of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh are regarded as Divine Revelation. The scriptures of other faiths, which include the teachings of previous Manifestations of God (such as Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad) are also regarded as Divine Revelations. The Quran and the Judaeo-Christian Bible also hold an authentic status within this religion.
Baha’i faith have four main practices:
1. Fasting: discipline of the soul, exercising their spiritual being to draw closer to God. They fast for a 19 day period before Baha’i New Year as a spiritual preparation.
2. Prayer: vital part of their spiritual life, they believe it is a conversation with God where language is not important but your heart attitude. Prayer draws them closer to God. They also combine prayer with action, praying about what they should do, then they do it!
3. Social action: close link between spiritual life and practical life. Baha’is see social and economic development projects as an expression of faith in action, but they must be community-led and seek to improve people's moral and spiritual condition It allows them to express their faith.
4. Worship: Fasting, praying and meditation. However, worship is a lifestyle not a ritual or practice, helping to retain originality and meaning within their faith.
A strong family life is important to Bahá'ís because the family is seen as the fundamental building block of communities and nations. A Bahá'í marriage should join participants in both body and spirit, in a 'spiritual relationship and everlasting union'. The union of marriage is particularly important to Bahá'ís as they understand the union of two beings as an example of God acting as a unifying principle. Bahai's believe that people should be free to choose their partners; arranged marriages are not permitted. Divorce is highly discouraged. The Bahá'í community is strongly child-focused, both the members of the community and the parents are involved in the child’s upbringing. The value and education of young people is of utmost importance.
Place of Worship
Bahá'ís worship in a House of Worship but have no liturgy, since the minimising of ritual makes it impossible to develop one. The emphasis on prayer, meditation and social action in Bahá'í thinking means that congregational worship plays a much smaller part in Bahá'í life than it does in other faiths. Bahá'í services are very simple with readings and interpretations from the scriptures as well as prayers. Hymns and poetry are allowed, but are not common. The atmosphere is usually dignified. Bahá'í are encouraged to come together in communal worship, but there are no congregational prayers. One person will recite prayers on behalf of everyone present. This is because prayer is seen essentially as a private duty, and because there are no professional clergy within the Bahá'í faith. Bahá'í scripture recommends that the community should meet together for prayer each morning, although this is not commonly done by modern Bahá'ís. Bahá'ís usually hold special worship events on holy days and festivals.
How does Baha'i relate to Restorative Justice?
Baha’i is a very OPEN and ACCEPTING religion, OUTWARDLY focused followers use their faith practically within the community. Regardless of who the person is, what they have done or where they have come from, Baha’is seek to ENCOURAGE and HELP these people to bring about UNITY within humanity for the final stages of evolution.