Noted Speaker To Bring Message of Universal Bahai Faith
Publication date: 2000-11-09
* Religion stresses unity of humankind, world peace and world order
An international lecturer will be the keynote speaker on Saturday, the anniversary of the birth of Baha'u'llah, founder of the Bahai faith.
James Nelson, a former Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, is a dynamic speaker, according to David Stuart of the Bahai Faith Community of Albuquerque.
"I have heard talks he has given that were taped," Stuart said. "He does a fine job."
Baha'u'llah, whose given name was Mirza Husayn-Ali, was born to Persian nobility in Tehran, Iran, in 1817. Baha'u'llah, an Arabic word meaning "Glory of God," was a Bahai prophet who died in 1892.
He and his predecessor, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, known as the Bab, are the faith's messengers from God, according to believers. Their writings make up the religion's scriptures.
Ali-Muhammad claimed in 1844 to be the Bab, which means "the gate" to the future. He predicted that a great prophet would follow him. The Bab, who is considered a martyr, was executed in 1850 by Persian Islamic leaders in what is now Iran.
Of the approximately 350 Bahais in the Albuquerque area, more than a dozen families are refugees from Iran. Some have applied for religious asylum. Bahais are still persecuted and killed in Iran because of their faith, Stuart said.
In 1863, Baha'u'llah, who avoided martyrdom although he was imprisoned for decades, declared he was the messenger that the Bab had predicted. He taught followers to treat other religions with respect.
Bahais strive to bring about the unity of humankind, world peace and world order. Followers believe in one God, the creator, and mankind as one race, which has a huge diversity of color.
Their other religious principles include equality of women and men, elimination of prejudice, common foundation of all religions, compatibility of science and religion, universal compulsory education and spiritual solutions to world problems.
Nelson will speak on the "Promised One of All Ages" and the achievement of human rights, gender equality and global society.
He has given seminars and lectures on the same subject since 1989 at numerous special events to audiences in India, Israel, Canada, Mexico, China, Switzerland, Europe and Turkmenistan.
Nelson and his wife, Dorothy, who is a U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals judge, are considered two of the more high-profile Bahais in the nation.
Among the entertainers who will perform are Joel Orona, who will recite a Native American prayer; Bonnie Dee Greathouse, a gospel singer; Cielo Lindo Grupo Folklorico; Ehecatl Aztec dancers; and Filipino dancers.
Bahais follow two fundamental concepts that divine revelation is not final and that some religious social teachings are relative to their time and place. They believe God sends prophets as mankind evolves, such as Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, the Bab and Baha'u'llah.
Stuart said the biggest misconception Americans have about Bahais is confusing the faith with the Jewish service organization, B'nai B'rith.
Americans also don't realize that the Bahai faith is a worldwide religion with members in more than 200 countries, territories and islands.
There are more than 7 million Bahais globally, including about 133,000 in the United States.
The religion has no clergy or elaborate ceremonies and doesn't proselytize. Worship services include the recitation of Bahai scriptures and other divinely revealed religions' scriptures as well as a cappella singing.
Bahai Faith celebration
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Albuquerque Convention Center, Ballroom A
HOW MUCH: Free and open to the public with entertainment and refreshments afterward; for more information, call 232-2424 or e-mail at Bahaiabq@juno.com
©Copyright 2000, Albuquerque Journal