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A Short Introduction to the Baha'i Faith

by Moojan Momen

Oxford: Oneworld, 1997-04-24

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      The Bahá'í Faith is a worldwide religion based on the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892). He stated that the time had come for the people of the world to put aside their differences and to unite on the basis of the teachings that he had brought.

      In the brief course of its 150-year history, the Bahá'í Faith has transformed itself from an obscure Middle Eastern sect into a fast-growing religion that has established itself in every country of the world and is rapidly emerging out of obscurity to take its place alongside older more established world religions.

      The religion has grown and developed greatly in terms of its numerical strength, geographical spread, and community organisation. The largest Bahá'í communities are now in South Asia, Africa, Latin America, and (relative to the size of the population) in some of the islands of the Pacific. In these parts of the world, some villages and areas are more or less completely Bahá'í. Here the Bahá'ís have initiated educational, agricultural and community development projects. The latest available official Bahá'í statistics (1994) state that there are between 5 and 6 million Bahá'ís in the world; that Bahá'ís live in over 110,000 localities; that there are over 17,000 places where there are organized Bahá'í communities with elected local councils (Local Spiritual Assemblies); and 172 national elected bodies (National Spiritual Assemblies).

We desire but the good of the world and happiness of the nations.... That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled... Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the "Most Great Peace" shall come.... These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family.... Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind.... (words spoken by Bahá'u'lláh to Prof. E.G. Browne of Cambridge University in 1890)

Table of Contents      

1. Spiritual Teachings for the individual

    (includes spiritual and physical health)

2. The Family

    (includes education)

3. Social Teachings

   a. Freedom from Prejudice
   b. The Advancement of Women
   c. Science, Technology, and the Environment
   d. Liberty and Human Rights
   e. Agriculture
   f. Teachings on Government and Social Policy
   g. Teachings on Economics

4. Global concerns

   (includes social and economic development)

5. The Bahá'í Community

   a. Organisation and structure (includes the Bahá'í Calendar and the House of Worship)
   b. Principles of Bahá'í Administration (includes the Covenant,
      consultation, the rights of minorities and Bahá'í elections)

6. Bahá'í Laws

   a. Prayer, reading of scripture, and meditation
   b. Fasting
   c. Marriage and divorce
   d. Death and Burial
   e. Cruelty to animals
   f. Abolitions and Prohibitions

7. Theological Teachings

   a. The Nature of the Highest Reality (God)
   b. The Divine Educator, the Manifestation of God
   c. True Religion
   d. The Goal of Human Life (Salvation)
   e. The Cause and Purpose of Suffering
   f. Life after death

8. Bahá'í History



9. The Bahá'í World Today

Sources of Further Information (including addresses and WWW sites)

Bibliography



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These web pages are based on a recently published book introducing the Bahá'í Faith:
A Short Introduction to the Bahá'í Faith
© Moojan Momen 1996
All Rights Reserved
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