(PDF document) Understanding Single Bahais

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(PDF document) Understanding Single Bahais

Postby BritishBahai » Thu Oct 23, 2008 10:39 am

Download the pdf from:


Prepared by Kamilla Bahbani & David Diehl
June 2008
"I have desired only what Thou didst desire, and love only what Thou dost love"

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Re: (PDF document) Understanding Single Bahais

Postby brettz9 » Sat Oct 25, 2008 7:14 pm

If the Baha'i community were to give out Nobel prizes, I wouldn't be surprised if these folks would get it.

(I actually haven't read the full report, but the idea and conclusions alone appear to me to be quite worth it...)

One point I'm not sure that was covered--emphasis on the need for initiative by young Baha'is themselves to establish a family, the "fundamental unit of society" and marriage a "commandment" (though it is, strictly speaking, not obligatory, it is still advised as the "natural and normal way of existence for every sane, healthy and socially-conscious and responsible person")--and not succumbing to delusions of fatalism (or romanticism) (similarly to how our Writings advise planning in each important area of our lives). There's even a pilgrim's note of Shoghi Effendi telling a young Baha'i pilgrim that he shouldn't wait for his wife to fall out of the sky! It is too often that some young Baha'is fall into the unscientific (and un-Baha'i) idea that marriage is some mere matter of fate (whether the fancy is based out of a conception of the workings of God and/or out of Hollywood-style stories).

To quote Bob Dylan:
After waking enough times to think I see
The Holy Kiss that's supposed to last eternity
Blow up in smoke, its destiny
Falls on strangers, travels free
Yes, I know now, traps are only set by me
And I do not really need to be
Assured that love is just a four-letter word

(Naturally, I am citing "love" in the above, to the earthly understanding of it and I don't mean to take a cynical conclusion about love, or even physical love, though beyond my immediate purpose, I do intend it to also be taken as a cynical conclusion about physical models of courtship.)

On the other hand, there's of course a great deal of delicateness involved to avoid conveying a sense to young Baha'is (or maybe not-so-young ones) that they are being blamed for not having found a companion (as they may already be acutely sensitive on this point). I also hope that with the conservative model of courtship which the Baha'i Faith promotes, that on a personal level, people in the community may even consider (and be advised to consider) also the traditional social networking model that had people show concern for others in suggesting or, with permission, introducing friends to one another (without the sometimes association of these models with arranged marriages, etc., of course). It is too serious a problem, and too great a service, to ignore the simple kindness of overcoming a fear of interfering to discreetly see if there is some way to help. As a former single Baha'i myself, I remember being moved even that some Baha'is (usually Persian) would smilingly (and discreetly) show concern for my situation. We cannot embrace the concept of community unity while sticking to strict models of individualism. That being said, again, it usually does ultimately rely on the individual taking initiative (though an initiative that can and should be encouraged!).

"...The Bahá'í youth should, on the one hand, be taught the lesson of self-control which, when exercised, undoubtedly has a salutary effect on the development of character and of personality in general, and on the other should be advised, nay even encouraged, to contract marriage while still young and in full possession of their physical vigour. Economic factors, no doubt, are often a serious hindrance to early marriage but in most cases are only an excuse, and as such should not be over stressed."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 13, 1940: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 109)

"It is highly important for man to raise a family. So long as he is young, because of youthful self-complacency, he does not realize its significance, but this will be a source of regret when he grows old... "

(From a talk of Abdu'l-Bahá: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, p. 13)

The Bahá'í Teachings do not only encourage marital life, considering it the natural and normal way of existence for every sane, healthy and socially-conscious and responsible person, but raise marriage to the status of a divine institution, its chief and sacred purpose being the perpetuation of the human race — which is the very flower of the entire creation — and its elevation to the true station destined for it by God.

(In a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 15 April 1939 to an individual believer)

(The later goes on to make exceptions for those who may have some serious defects, and other Writings refer to the fact that marriage is (as I can recall the quote), not the exclusive purpose of our lives, that individuals should not be forced to marry (as it is ultimately a personal choice), etc.)


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Re: (PDF document) Understanding Single Bahais

Postby marianburnett » Wed Dec 10, 2008 5:04 pm

It seems to me that when I was getting to know the man whom I was to marry, I learned a lot about his strengths and character as I worked with him on teaching and study activities in the Baha'i community. (To tell the truth, we had no money for "dating" activities, and it is a family joke that we "ate our way into the Faith" through refreshments at firesides)

Has anyone read anything in Priceless Pearl about the Guardian's courtship?

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Re: (PDF document) Understanding Single Bahais

Postby Truth » Wed Dec 10, 2008 6:21 pm

Urgh, courtship. Sometimes i feel like it's a race against time. I was having a conversation with another single baha'i, and we were discussing how it seems like such a rush to get married. That if you're not married before 30, the world will end and your life is over.

Finding a life partner can sometimes be such a resource consuming process. Lately i've just wanted a break from it all to concentrate on other things, then come back to it later, but something in the back of my head is constantly telling me.. "time is running out, then you'll just have to grab at whatever's left!" haha! Not the best way of thinking about it... I know...

Seriously though, i feel like i'm counting down the seconds till i hit 30 and then it's all over. (i'm 25 at the moment)

My next door neighbor is a jehovah's witness who was saying the problem with finding a partner in your religious community, is that you've most likely grown up in that community and the people around you, you treat like your brothers or sisters, not potential partners, and i have to agree with him. It's easier if you move to a new location with a set of new Baha'is where you can make some fresh connections. People you don't already have that family (non-romantic) bond with.

Anyway, interesting paper. It's good to know others out there are in the same frame of mind as myself.
No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!

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