Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

All research or scholarship questions
briren08
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Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby briren08 » Sun Dec 07, 2008 12:59 am

Hello everyone. I'm brand new here. I discovered Baha'i recently and accidently. I recently got back in touch with God and I have been trying to find a way to worship him. Basically, I need a religion for stability.

I was looking into the Islamiz faith, but I found that some of the tinyest rules (no dogs or music for example) I just couldn't agree with. I was browsing a website and Baha'i caught my eye.

I've been researching it and you can't imagine how little I can find online. I now the general beliefs and everything but its the little things that I can't find answers to. Maybe someone here can help me. Here goes:

I've had sex outside of marriage in every relationship I've been in. I am willing to stop for my God. Will I be penalized for this? Will this hinder my conversion to Baha'i in any way?

Can a Baha'i marry a non-Baha'i?

When children are born, are they automatically Baha'is or do they declare their faith when they get older?

Do Baha'is celebrate holidays such as Christmas or Easter?

I've been tossing the idea of hijab around for about a year now and I wear it on and off. (I like the moral behind it). Is hijab forbidden in Baha'i or is it more of a personal choice?

Finally..how do I find Baha'is in my area? I live in Southern New Jersey and I don't drive. I heard I could call a number to find Baha'is in my area. Is this true??


Thank you in advance for everything.

-Brittany
I've recently discovered the Baha'i Faith and am still in the process of finding out about it. Any information or encouragement is appreciated.

This is Me

nharandi
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Re: Discovering Baha'i -Questions

Postby nharandi » Sun Dec 07, 2008 4:02 am

Hello everyone. I'm brand new here. I discovered Baha'i recently and accidently. I recently got back in touch with God and I have been trying to find a way to worship him. Basically, I need a religion for stability.


Welcome!

These are some good questions -- it's great that you are investigating and I really hope you find what you are looking for. I'll try and answer some these

I've had sex outside of marriage in every relationship I've been in. I am willing to stop for my God. Will I be penalized for this? Will this hinder my conversion to Baha'i in any way?


Baha'is do not hold a very traditional view of "sins," that you might be thinking of. Matters like this are entirely personal and in the Faith its actually prohibited to "confess" for example to a Priest like in some denominations of Christianity in order to pardon yourself. Things that you may have done in the past wont hinder your being able to declare yourself a Baha'i. It's great that you are willing to make that sacrifice for your Faith, and I encourage you to just reflect on your actions yourself and to God. God is the only one who can grant you forgiveness, so you are not going to be judged in any way.

The Writings say that if a man has ten good qualities and only one bad one, to look at the ten and forget that one; if a man has ten bad qualities and one good one, to look at that one and forget the ten.

Can a Baha'i marry a non-Baha'i?


In the Baha'i Faith, not too many restrictions exist for marriage. Marriage is highly recommended given it is a highly spiritual and fruitful union. Marrying a non-Baha'i is certainly permitted according to the Baha'i Writings.

For all Bahai marriages however, Baha'is are asked to receive full approval from all the parents involved. This is one of many ways that unity may be promoted and sources of friction be avoided.

When children are born, are they automatically Baha'is or do they declare their faith when they get older?


As you might know, the Baha'i Faith emphasizes heavily its tenet of individual investigation of truth. The writings say:

"God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth. He has endowed man with ears that he may hear the message of reality and conferred upon him the gift of reason by which he may discover things for himself. This is his endowment and equipment for the investigation of reality. Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another's ears nor comprehend with another's brain. Each human creature has individual endowment, power and responsibility in the creative plan of God."

So, Baha'i believe very strongly in avoiding dogmatic or coercive forms of religion which are dangerous and unproductive. When raising children, it is encouraged to raise them with strong morals and values, nurture and educate them. However, the age of maturity in the Baha'i Faith is 15, and one may only become a Baha'i at that age. It's very important for the child himself to be aware of the teachings and obligations that are part of being a Baha'i and truly decides for him/her self.

Do Baha'is celebrate holidays such as Christmas or Easter?


I'm not certain, but I don't think the writings specifically prohibit such celebrations. It is, like many things, a personal choice, as long as you take caution in not creating perceptions that your not in fact a Baha'i. Other than that, there's little wrong with getting in the holiday spirit and strengthening bonds between friends, family, and loved ones.

To answer your question though, there are 9 annual holy/special days on the Baha'i calendar. If you're interested I can specify :)

I've been tossing the idea of hijab around for about a year now and I wear it on and off. (I like the moral behind it). Is hijab forbidden in Baha'i or is it more of a personal choice?


I'm almost certain that wearing a hijab is not forbidden in the Baha'i Faith.

However, to better understand it's position you can read about the concept of progressive revelation. At the core of the Baha'i teachings is the oneness of religion. Baha'u'llah, the prophet and founder of the Faith, explains that all revelation is relative. Progressive revelation refers to this by explaining that all previous revelations in the forms of different religions (Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc) have all be revealed to humanity from one God relative to the specific spiritual and social station/capacity of mankind in that time. In this way, many of the social: dietary, behavioral, etc guidelines have specific reasons for them, but do not necessary represent the essence of the faith. This is why religions have changed many of these guidelines.

Knowing this, I think its best that you personally reflect on the reasons for the hijab in the time Muhammad made his revelation. They were certainly a strong form of protection in a very dangerous and corrupt time. In today's society, maybe it's not as necessary. But again, it is probably a more personal matter. If the writings do object to wearing a hijab then please somebody correct me.

Finally..how do I find Baha'is in my area? I live in Southern New Jersey and I don't drive. I heard I could call a number to find Baha'is in my area. Is this true??


That's wonderful that you'd like to get in contact with the local community-- I'm not familiar with the community in your particular area but I'm sure they'd love to meet you and invite you to events and activities! If you call [1-800-22-UNITE] you'll be able to get in contact with somebody who can help you :)

Keep asking more questions if you have any

briren08
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby briren08 » Sun Dec 07, 2008 2:17 pm

To answer your question though, there are 9 annual holy/special days on the Baha'i calendar. If you're interested I can specify :)


I know some of the holidays, but I'm not sure how they are celebrated. I know about the fast and I don't have a problem with that. I don't quite understand Ayyam-i-Ha and to tell you the truth, the calendar completely baffles me. :-D

If you could explain the holdiays in better depth than what I've found, (and the calendar also) that would be wonderful.

Thank you so much for answering all of my questions, you have really helped me.
I've recently discovered the Baha'i Faith and am still in the process of finding out about it. Any information or encouragement is appreciated.

This is Me

nharandi
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby nharandi » Sun Dec 07, 2008 3:52 pm

briren08 wrote:I know some of the holidays, but I'm not sure how they are celebrated. I know about the fast and I don't have a problem with that. I don't quite understand Ayyam-i-Ha and to tell you the truth, the calendar completely baffles me. :-D

If you could explain the holdiays in better depth than what I've found, (and the calendar also) that would be wonderful.


Hi again!

That's no problem, let me see if I can explain:

The Baha’i year consists of 19 months of 19 days each, which makes a total of 361 days. So those remaining 4 (5 for leap years) are called "Intercalary Days" and are inserted between the 18th and 19th months to adjust the calendar. Additionally, each of the 19 months is named after one attribute of God- for example "Jamal" (beauty) or "Qudrat" (power). The Baha’i New Year begins on March 21st (always on the spring equinox).

Those four or five intercalary days are referred to as Ayyám-i-Há, where Bahá'ís celebrate the Festival of Ayyám-i-Há right up until the 19th month (fasting) begins. During the Festival of Ayyám-i-Há, Bahá'ís come together to celebrate God and display love, unity, and fellowship. A common practice is the giving and receiving of gifts among the Baha'is. It's just a time for love and goodwill.

Baha'i Holy Days consist of:

Naw-Rúz (Bahá'í New Year), March 21
First day of Riḍván, April 21
Ninth day of Riḍván, April 29
Twelfth day of Riḍván, May 2
Declaration of the Báb, May 23
Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, May 29
Martyrdom of the Báb, July 9
Birth of the Báb, October 20
Birth of Bahá'u'lláh, November 12
Day of the Covenant, November 26
Ascension of `Abdu'l-Bahá, November 28

"The last month in the Baha'i calendar, March 2-20, is dedicated to the Fast. During this time, Baha'is between 15 and 70 years of age do not eat or drink for 19 days from sunrise to sunset and set aside time for prayer and meditation. Exemptions from the Fast occur for illness, pregnancy, nursing mothers, extended travel and arduous physical labor."

Then as you can see, fast ends with the Bahai (and the Iranian) new year -- Nawruz. The day is often used to symbolize a renewal of everything and new life both materially and more importantly, spritually. It is generally a very festive day for Baha'is and community gatherings are common.

Riḍván (pronounced rez-von) is a twelve-day festival meant to commemorate Bahá'u'lláh's prophethood. It begins at sunset on April 20 and continues until sunset, May 2. On the first (April 21st), ninth (April 29th) and twelfth days of Ridván (May 2nd), work and schooling is suspended. "Ridván" means paradise, and is named for the Garden of Ridván, outside Baghdad where Bahá'u'lláh stayed for twelve days after the Ottoman Empire exiled him from Baghdad and before commencing his journey to Constantinople. It's considered the most holy festival.

Other holy days include commemorating the anniversarys of the births of both the Bab and Baha'u'llah, the Bab's martyrdom, the ascension (death) of Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha (his son who Bahai's regard as the center of his convenant once he passed away) and a couple more. There is no one way to celebrate these special days. It is generally left up to the various Baha'i communities to hold gatherings and events that people can attend that often include prayers, food, socialization and more.

briren08 wrote:Thank you so much for answering all of my questions, you have really helped me.


Of course :) Hope this one helped as well, and once again keep asking any questions you may have.

Sen McGlinn
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby Sen McGlinn » Sun Dec 07, 2008 6:56 pm

Wikipedia has an article on the Bahai calendar:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A1%27%C3%AD_calendar

The most basic thing is that it is a solar calendar, with the New Year / Now Ruz beginning in the northern hemisphere spring. To keep in time with the sun, it has to have 365 1/4 days per year, and that's tricky for all the solar calendars. The Bahai calendar achieves it with 19 regular months of 19 days, giving 361 days, plus 4 or 5 extra days which are placed before the last month. The last month is the month of the Fast. So you have 4 or 5 days for feasting, socialising, visiting - and then 19 days of the Fast. It is very like the Carnival period in European cultures, which comes before the 40-day period of Lent.

Another practical thing to note is that the Bahai day begins at sunset, not at midnight, so that a commemoration or feast that regularly occurs on, say, 2 March, may be held in your community on 1 March, after sunset, or one 2 March, before sunset. If you're planning to attend a 19-day feast, check with your local community and double-check the day.

For other questions: wikipedia is quite a good source. The Bahai Library itself has a massive collection of books and articles, and has a search function. You might find Some Answered Questions a good place to start :

http://www.bahai-library.org/file.php?file=abdulbaha_some_answered_questions

Sen

Fadl
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby Fadl » Sun Dec 07, 2008 9:14 pm

Hi Brittany!

What a happy accident that you have found us! It looks like nharandi has done an excellent job of answering your questions already so I will only touch briefly on the issue of hijab in the faith. First, the hijab is neither forbidden nor an obligation in our faith. Many Baha’i women do wear a hijab, but this is because they live in countries where it is required of them. However, many of those women, when they leave those countries abandon the hijab quite happily. In the U.S., where you are, I would be surprised to find a Baha’i woman who wears the hijab, although it is possible.

You might be interested to read about Tahirih. She was the only female disciple of the Bab. She was a remarkable figure, and I won’t go into her too much, but I wanted to mention her in the context of hijab. Here is a remarkable account of Tahirih and what she did at the Conference of Badasht:

Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 74 wrote:“One day in His [Baha’u’llah’s] presence, when illness had confined Him to bed, Tahirih, regarded as the fair and spotless emblem of chastity and the incarnation of the holy Fatimih, appeared suddenly, adorned yet unveiled, before the assembled companions, seated herself on the right-hand of the affrighted and infuriated Quddus, and, tearing through her fiery words the veils guarding the sanctity of the ordinances of Islam, sounded the clarion-call, and proclaimed the inauguration, of a new Dispensation. The effect was electric and instantaneous. She, of such stainless purity, so reverenced that even to gaze at her shadow was deemed an improper act, appeared for a moment, in the eyes of her scandalized beholders, to have defamed herself, shamed the Faith she had espoused, and sullied the immortal Countenance she symbolized. Fear, anger, bewilderment, swept their inmost souls, and stunned their faculties. Abdu'l-Khaliq-i-Isfahani, aghast and deranged at such a sight, cut his throat with his own hands. Spattered with blood, and frantic with excitement, he fled away from her face. A few, abandoning their companions, renounced their Faith. Others stood mute and transfixed before her. Still others must have recalled with throbbing hearts the Islamic tradition foreshadowing the appearance of Fatimih herself unveiled while crossing the Bridge (Sirat) on the promised Day of Judgment. Quddus, mute with rage, seemed to be only waiting for the moment when he could strike her down with the sword he happened to be then holding in his hand. Undeterred, unruffled, exultant with joy, Tahirih arose, and, without the least premeditation and in a language strikingly resembling that of the Qur'án, delivered a fervid and eloquent appeal to the remnant of the assembly, ending it with this bold assertion: "I am the Word which the Qá'im is to utter, the Word which shall put to flight the chiefs and nobles of the earth!" Thereupon, she invited them to embrace each other and celebrate so great an occasion” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 32).


Later, the hijab (her head scarf) became the instrument of her martyrdom:

Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 74 wrote:“One night, aware that the hour of her death was at hand, she put on the attire of a bride, and annointed herself with perfume, and, sending for the wife of the Kalantar, she communicated to her the secret of her impending martyrdom, and confided to her her last wishes. Then, closeting herself in her chambers, she awaited, in prayer and meditation, the hour which was to witness her reunion with her Beloved. She was pacing the floor of her room, chanting a litany expressive of both grief and triumph, when the farrashes of Aziz Khan-i-Sardar arrived, in the dead of night, to conduct her to the Ilkhani garden, which lay beyond the city gates, and which was to be the site of her martyrdom. When she arrived the Sardar was in the midst of a drunken debauch with his lieutenants, and was roaring with laughter; he ordered offhand that she be strangled at once and thrown into a pit. With that same silken kerchief which she had intuitively reserved for that purpose, and delivered in her last moments to the son of Kalantar who accompanied her, the death of this immortal heroine was accomplished. Her body was lowered into a well, which was then filled with earth and stones, in the manner she herself had desired.

Thus ended the life of this great Bábí heroine, the first woman suffrage martyr, who, at her death, turning to the one in whose custody she had been placed, had boldly declared: "You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women." Her career was as dazzling as it was brief, as tragic as it was eventful. Unlike her fellow-disciples, whose exploits remained, for the most part unknown, and unsung by their contemporaries in foreign lands, the fame of this immortal woman was noised abroad, and traveling with remarkable swiftness as far as the capitals of Western Europe, aroused the enthusiastic admiration and evoked the ardent praise of men and women of divers nationalities, callings and cultures. Little wonder that 'Abdu'l-Bahá should have joined her name to those of Sarah, of Asiyih, of the Virgin Mary and of Fatimih, who, in the course of successive Dispensations, have towered, by reason of their intrinsic merits and unique position, above the rank and file of their sex. "In eloquence," 'Abdu'l-Bahá Himself has written, "she was the calamity of the age, and in ratiocination the trouble of the world." He, moreover, has described her as "a brand afire with the love of God" and "a lamp aglow with the bounty of God."
Indeed the wondrous story of her life propagated itself as far and as fast as that of the Báb Himself, the direct Source of her inspiration. "Prodige de science, mais aussi prodige de beaute" is the tribute paid her by a noted commentator on the life of the Báb and His disciples. "The Persian Joan of Arc, the leader of emancipation for women of the Orient ... who bore resemblance both to the mediaeval Heloise and the neo-platonic Hypatia," thus was she acclaimed by a noted playwright whom Sarah Bernhardt had specifically requested to write a dramatized version of her life. "The heroism of the lovely but ill-fated poetess of Qasvin, Zarrin-Taj (Crown of Gold) ..." testifies Lord Curzon of Kedleston, "is one of the most affecting episodes in modern history." "The appearance of such a woman as Qurratu'l-'Ayn," wrote the well-known British Orientalist, Prof. E. G. Browne, "is, in any country and any age, a rare phenomenon, but in such a country as Persia it is a prodigy -- nay, almost a miracle. ...Had the Bábí religion no other claim to greatness, this were sufficient ... that it produced a heroine like Qurratu'l-'Ayn." "The harvest sown in Islamic lands by Qurratu'l-'Ayn," significantly affirms the renowned English divine, Dr. T. K. Cheyne, in one of his books, "is now beginning to appear ... this noble woman ... has the credit of opening the catalogue of social reforms in Persia..." "Assuredly one of the most striking and interesting manifestations of this religion" is the reference to her by the noted French diplomat and brilliant writer, Comte de Gobineau. "In Qasvin," he adds, "she was held, with every justification, to be a prodigy." "Many people," he, moreover has written, "who knew her and heard her at different periods of her life have invariably told me ... that when she spoke one felt stirred to the depths of one's soul, was filled with admiration, and was moved to tears." (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 74)


With such remarkable woman in the Baha’i religion, and bearing in mind her heroic acts and the things which she stood for, you can well imagine that few women in our faith are desirous to wear a hijab!

Best Wishes,

Loren
"Thus doth the Nightingale utter His call unto you from this prison. He hath but to deliver this clear message. Whosoever desireth, let him turn aside from this counsel and whosoever desireth let him choose the path to his Lord." - Baha'u'llah

briren08
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby briren08 » Sun Dec 07, 2008 10:41 pm

Wow...thanks to all of you for the responses. The more I learn about the Baha'i faith, the more I believe its the one God has led me to. Thank you to Loren for the information about Tahirih. She is..wow amazing. And thanks nharandi for explaining everything so much clearer to me.

Also, thanks to everyone who has posted or who will post a reply to this thread. You are all helping me in making my decision and clarifying everything I have concerns about.
I've recently discovered the Baha'i Faith and am still in the process of finding out about it. Any information or encouragement is appreciated.

This is Me

nharandi
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby nharandi » Mon Dec 08, 2008 10:21 pm

briren08 wrote:Wow...thanks to all of you for the responses. The more I learn about the Baha'i faith, the more I believe its the one God has led me to. Thank you to Loren for the information about Tahirih. She is..wow amazing. And thanks nharandi for explaining everything so much clearer to me.

Also, thanks to everyone who has posted or who will post a reply to this thread. You are all helping me in making my decision and clarifying everything I have concerns about.


That is exciting to hear, Brittney! We are all very honored to be able to share what we know with you so don't hesitate in bringing up anything you may want to discuss or clarify. Look forward to hearing from you soon.

briren08
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby briren08 » Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:14 pm

That is exciting to hear, Brittney! We are all very honored to be able to share what we know with you so don't hesitate in bringing up anything you may want to discuss or clarify. Look forward to hearing from you soon.


:-D I'm glad that you are so excited for me! I called 1-800-22-Unite and I'm hoping to have someone call me to help me find a prayer group near me. I received literature and the card I need to sign and mail in if I decide to convert. I was talking to my friend today about it and he says to sounds like something he may want to look into also!

To everyone: I need some help again though. What is the best books to read about the Baha'i faith? I'm going to purchase The Most Holy Book on Friday, but what else do you suggest I read? Thanks again for the help!
I've recently discovered the Baha'i Faith and am still in the process of finding out about it. Any information or encouragement is appreciated.

This is Me

brettz9
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby brettz9 » Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:33 am

Hello Brittany and all,

It looks like you've gotten some good answers so far, but I just wanted to chime in on a few small things (I include several quotations because that is our ultimate authority on our teachings)...

Although Baha'is in the U.S. and some other countries may be asked to reaffirm their belief at age fifteen (considered the "age of maturity" for such matters as obligatory prayer and fasting), as they are considered to be spiritually mature enough at that time to do so, this does not mean they were not Baha'is before then, and in fact, they are, generally speaking, to be treated as such.

"The declaration of faith by children when they reach the age of 15 in the United States is in order to enable the American Youth to apply for exemption, under the American laws, from active military service. It has no other purpose, but in that country is expedient."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 5, 1950: Bahá'í News, No. 236, October 1950, pp. 2-3 at http://bahai-library.com/?file=hornby_lights_guidance


"The way in which Bahá'í children should be registered upon reaching the age of fifteen is within the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly...It is important, however, that whatever method of enrollment is used or card adopted, it is clear to such children that they had been Bahá'ís up to that time, and that on attaining the age of spiritual maturity they are reaffirming their belief in Bahá'u'lláh."

(Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated October 28, 1975 at http://bahai-library.com/?file=nsa_deve ... ter=1#6.13 )


Upon attaining the age of fifteen a child becomes spiritually mature and is responsible for stating on his own behalf whether or not he wishes to remain a member of the Bahá'í community. If he does not then reaffirm his faith, he must be treated, administratively, as a non-Bahá'í.

(Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, dated December 12, 1975 at http://bahai-library.com/?file=nsa_deve ... ter=1#6.13)


(You actually can find a LOT of answers to common questions in the above-cited compilations too.)

"Independent investigation of truth" fully applies, but, as we believe that it is through God's Messenger and teachings that we are actually enabled to best see with our own eyes, we wouldn't want to deprive our children of learning to identify with them. However, after they reach the age of maturity, "They should be free to choose for themselves any religion they wish." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 3, 1931 at http://bahai-library.com/?file=hornby_l ... ter=2#n523 )


As far as celebrating Christmas, while Baha'is are free to celebrate religious holidays such as Christmas and New Years with their non-Baha'i relatives, amongst ourselves we are instead encouraged to focus on our own holidays, since although we fully believe in Christ, we are an independent religion which recognizes His Return in Baha'u'llah:

"As regards the celebration of the Christian Holiday by the believers; it is surely preferable and even highly advisable that the friends should in their relation to each other discontinue observing such holidays as Christmas and New Years, and to have their festival gatherings of this nature instead during the Intercalary Days and Naw-Ruz...."

(Directives from the Guardian, p. 38)


As far as hijab, others have given fine answers on this. I think it is admirable that you were open enough to the idea, given that so many people concern themselves with what others should be "free" to do (or what they want to force others to do) instead of what they should do. While the wearing of the face/body/head-covering veil has been lifted as a law, you may be interested to find, however, that the moral component you suggest of modesty in dress is still recognized and championed:

Such a chaste and holy life, with its implications of modesty, purity, temperance, decency, and clean-mindedness, involves no less than the exercise of moderation in all that pertains to dress, language, amusements, and all artistic and literary avocations.

(Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 30)


best wishes,
Brett

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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby brettz9 » Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:38 am

To add to my last post (after seeing your new response)...

For an introduction, it is probably better to get an introductory book on the Faith, and maybe after that, a book such as the Kitab-i-Iqan (Book of Certitude). The Most Holy Book, as the book of laws, is fairly heavy, and while of course very important for Baha'is and ultimately to the future of society, it is probably not the best as a first introduction.

You can find a list of introductory books at:

http://bahai-library.com/file.php?file= ... ductory#s2

On a personal note, I truly enjoyed "Baha'u'llah and the New Era"...

best wishes,
Brett

nharandi
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby nharandi » Tue Dec 09, 2008 3:21 am

Thanks for the insight Brett.

Also, I completely agree with Brett's suggestions for reading. "Baha'u'llah and the New Era" by J.E. Esslemont is a great introduction book and you can either buy it from online or even read it for free here:
http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/je/BNE/

I would also agree that the Kitab-i-Iqan (Book of Certitude) written by Baha'u'llah is a good place to begin reading the primary source Writings. That's here:
http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/KI/

The Most Holy Book (also known as the Kitab-i-Aqdas) would be a much more comfortable read once you are more grounded in the principles, history, context etc of the Faith that books like Baha'u'llah and the New Era present nicely.

In addition, as somebody previously recommended, "Some Answered Questions" is a good source of understanding the Baha'i Faiths position on many different topics and issues. It's a compilation of Baha'u'llah's son Abdu'l-Baha's commentaries on many different topics. It is also divided up into short "answers" so you can read it anytime without committing to the entire book. Many of the topics are quite interesting -- you can read it here:
http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/

briren08
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby briren08 » Wed Dec 10, 2008 1:51 am

Wow thank you guys so much for the resources. I've got them all bookmarked and I'll probably read a good part of them tomorrow. You all have been so helpful to me. I'll continue coming to this thread to ask more questions because I know I'll have more!
I've recently discovered the Baha'i Faith and am still in the process of finding out about it. Any information or encouragement is appreciated.

This is Me

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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby emifinan » Wed Dec 10, 2008 1:37 pm

hello! I think it's wonderful that you are seeking God in your life. I have investigated truth for myself and it was a very long journey that involved reading much about all the world religions and contemplating their applications in my life. Though I was raised a Baha'i, I really wanted to learn a lot about the Faith before I officially declared, so I can understand your hunger for more knowledge :)

Others have answered your questions quite well, but I want to share two of my favorite quotations with you, I hope they move and inspire you like they did me

- Emily


"He urges you to grasp firmly the teachings of our Faith, the love of your family and many Bahá'í friends, to put the past behind entirely, realising that it can do you no more harm; on the contrary, through changing you and making you spiritually aware, this very past can be a means of enriching your life in the future! He will certainly ardently pray for your happiness, your victory over yourself, and that you may become an exemplary and active Bahá'í."
(Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá'í Community, p. 450)


'There is a difference between character and faith; it is often very hard to accept this fact and put up with it, but the fact remains that a person may believe in and love the Cause—even to being ready to die for it—and yet not have a good personal character, or possess traits at variance with the teachings. We should try to change, to let the Power of God help recreate us and make us true Baha'is in deed as well as in belief. But sometimes the process is slow, sometimes it never happens because the individual does not try hard enough. But these things cause us suffering and are a test to us in our fellow-believers, most especially if we love them and have been their teacher!'

'The process of becoming a Baha'i is necessarily slow and gradual. The essential is not that the beginner should have a full and detailed knowledge of the Cause, a thing which is obviously impossible in the vast majority of cases, but that he should, by an act of his own will, be willing to uphold and follow the truth and guidance set forth in the Teachings, and thus open his heart and mind to the reality of the Manifestation.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 7, 1974: Baha'i News of India, p. 2, July/August, 1974)

briren08
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby briren08 » Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:59 pm

"He urges you to grasp firmly the teachings of our Faith, the love of your family and many Bahá'í friends, to put the past behind entirely, realising that it can do you no more harm; on the contrary, through changing you and making you spiritually aware, this very past can be a means of enriching your life in the future! He will certainly ardently pray for your happiness, your victory over yourself, and that you may become an exemplary and active Bahá'í."
(Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá'í Community, p. 450)



Wow..this one really clicked with me. It moved me to tears..thank you so much.
I've recently discovered the Baha'i Faith and am still in the process of finding out about it. Any information or encouragement is appreciated.

This is Me

BruceDLimber
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby BruceDLimber » Thu Dec 25, 2008 10:45 am

Hi, Brittany; I'm very glad you're here! :-)

I see a number of your questions have already been answered, so I'll confine myself to just two things: I'll give you a few book recommendations, and I'll provide you with a list of a bunch of Baha'i web sites (the latter will be in the next post).

    As to the Baha'i scriptures, I'd recommend you read The Book of Certitude (aka Kitab-i-Iqan), which is our primary theological work.

    Another excellent choice is Some Answered Questions, a plain-English discussion of questions on many different religious topics.

    If you'd like a bit of lighter reading as a change from these, The Hidden Words is an excellent choice! It's a brief collection religious teachings expressed as poetic verses.

    And if you'd like a non-scriptural introduction to the Faith, Baha'u'llah and the New Era is the best-known one.

Here are some sites for these books, and more:


Best regards, and I wish you good hunting! Please keep the questions coming; they're most welcome! :-)

The next post will contain a bunch of Baha'i websites you may find helpful.

Best, :-)

Bruce

BruceDLimber
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby BruceDLimber » Thu Dec 25, 2008 10:49 am

Hi again!

Here's a list of Baha'i websites:

Bruce
_ _ _ _ _

For general information about the Baha’i Faith, please visit:

www.bahai.org
www.usbnc.org
www.bahai.us
www.info.bahai.org

To see our scriptures and related materials, including our Peace Statement, Prosperity Statement, Race Unity Statement, and Destiny of America Statement:
www.ibiblio.org/Bahai (This site has includes a search engine.)
www.bahai-library.org (Click "Baha'i Writings" for our scriptures.)
www.reference.bahai.org (This site is multi-lingual.)
www.bahaistudy.org (This also has videos and talking books.)

To use OCEAN, an online collection of the scriptures of many religions, with a searchable concordance:

www.BahaiResearch.com

There's an excellent group of informal discussion areas about the Baha'i Faith at:

www.planetbahai.org (click "Messages").

For information on how the Baha'i Faith has fulfilled prophecies:

http://bci.org/prophecy-fulfilled

To view the Baha'i Newsreel:

http://newsreel.bahai.us

To see an online video of the eight Baha'i temples (one per continent) around the world, including the still-under-construction Chile temple:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2FQAQBI0fg

To enjoy Baha’i-oriented music:

www.RadioNur.com

To download and view other Baha'i videos:

http://www.us.bahai.org/media/index.html

You may often find "Baha'i Faith" listings in the White Pages of your phone book.

In the USA, you can also phone 1-800-22-UNITE for free information and literature, and—if you like—to find out where the nearest Baha'is are.

ciwancan
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby ciwancan » Mon Dec 29, 2008 3:46 pm

briren08 wrote:Can a Baha'i marry a non-Baha'i?


I would even tend to say it is "recommended"... :roll: O:)

pilgrimbrent
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Re: Discovering Baha'i --- Questions

Postby pilgrimbrent » Mon Dec 29, 2008 5:57 pm

n08 wrote:
"Can a Baha'i marry a non-Baha'i?"

I believe that when a person asks what the Baha'i teachings are, we Baha'is should let them know what the teachings say, in addition to our opinions. These questions give us a marvelous opportunity to explore our own Writings and better learn them. I looked in Ocean (downloadable from www.bahai-education.com) with the search term
marriage believers
and this brought me to the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book, the Book which contains most of the laws of Baha'u'llah. And in this I learned that the Bab had prohibited His followers from marrying non-Babis. However, He delayed the effect of this law until the appearance of Baha'u'llah. Baha'u'llah then abrogated this law before it ever took effect. Therefore, the answer, from the Baha'i Writings, is:

"Marriage with unbelievers is permitted."
(The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 150)

There are lots of Baha'is who are married to non-Baha'is. Many non-Baha'is are extremely supportive of the efforts of their Baha'i spouses, and very understanding of the time and energy their Baha'i spouses devote to the Baha'i Faith. We couldn't do without them, and many of them find very useful means of service on their own.

Brent


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