Baha'is seek a recognition of their faith
Thursday, December 23, 1999
By HABIB HOSSEINY
I had the privilege of visiting the Baha'i World Center and our holy places in Haifa and Akko, Israel, with my family last month.
During our visit, I witnessed the rapid progress of one of our loftiest projects of the past 10 years: the construction of several buildings that are going to house various institutions of the faith and the beautification of Mount Carmel, in which lie the remains of the Bab, the prophet-herald of the Baha'i Faith.
The completion of this project will bring about a wider recognition of our faith by the peoples of the world. So far, a few heads of state and several dignitaries from around the world have come to visit the Baha'i World Center and consulted with the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the faith.
I was delighted to see Baha'is from France, Australia, New Zealand, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, and parts of the United States in one pilgrimage tour. The staff of the center also represented all corners of the globe. The reality of the "oneness of humanity" could be felt and realized with no reservations.
The Baha'i Faith is a worldwide community representing virtually every race, nation, and tribe on earth. We are united by our belief in one God, one human race, and one evolving religion.
The Baha'i Faith, founded in 1844, is a new revelation from God, whose goal it is to establish world unity. Until the third quarter of the 20th century, it was a relatively obscure religion. Now there are some 7,000 Baha'i centers in the United States alone, and close to 7 million adherents worldwide.
As for the new millennium and how the Baha'is view the world, I would like to refer to some excerpts from a statement by the Baha'i International Community Office of Public Information titled "Who Is Writing the Future?"
Baha'is view the 20th century -- with all its disasters -- as 'the century of light' (Baha'u'llah). For these 100 years witnessed a transformation in both the way the earth's inhabitants have begun to plan our collective future and in the way we are coming to regard one another.
The hallmark of both has been a process of unification. Upheavals beyond the control of existing institutions compelled world leaders to begin putting in place new systems of global organization that could have been unthinkable at the century's beginning.
Indeed, the unifying effect of the 20th century revolution is nowhere more readily apparent than in the implications of the changes that took place in scientific and technological life.
At the most obvious level, the human race is now endowed with the means needed to realize the visionary goals summoned up by a steadily maturing consciousness.
Viewed more deeply, this empowerment is potentially available to all of the earth's inhabitants, without regard to race, culture, or nation.
Viewed through Baha'u'llah's eyes, the history of tribes, peoples, and nations has effectively reached its conclusion. What we are witnessing is the beginning of the history of humankind, the history of a human race conscious of its own oneness.
"To this turning point in the course of civilization, his writings bring a redefinition of the nature and processes of civilization and a reordering of its priorities. Their aim is to call us back to spiritual awareness and responsibility."
As we enter the new millennium, the Baha'is expect to see a humanity getting closer to unity, spirituality, understanding, and peace.
©Copyright 1999, Bergen Record Corp.