Bahá'ís represent the newest continuation of a long line
September 03, 2001
Editor's Note: This is the third in a four-part series on religious
faiths that do not often receive much attention.
By MICHAEL PROTOS
For The Times Herald
The name sounds like a sect of Islam. My mother thought it was a form of
Judaism. It certainly does not resemble any major Christian sect. Yet, if
you ask what exactly are the Bahá'ís, the answer would be, they are
all of the above, in a sense.
The Bahá'í Faith is not a very
old religion, yet it lays claim to the great Messengers of God throughout
history, including Abraham, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed. The
principle figure responsible for starting the Bahá'í Faith is
Bahá'u'lláh, who was born in 1852 in Iran and left an indelible
mark on this world.
Five million Bahá'ís worldwide,
representing over 2,100 ethnic or tribal groups according to the
pamphlet "The Bahá'ís," venerate the most recent Messenger of God.
This term applies to the conduits of the Creator that all Bahá'ís
acknowledge and glorify.
The Bahá'ís believe different
Messengers have appeared throughout history to teach the Creator's
message to different people in different places at different points in
"Bahá'u'lláh is the first messenger to speak
to the world. He is the messenger who is going to unite the world, in
the Bahá'í view," said David Fiorito of King of Prussia, a
Bahá'u'lláh faced immense
persecution during his life and was repeatedly exiled to many countries.
Fiorito said Bahá'u'lláh had a vision while in a dungeon
in Tehran revealing religious truth to be spread throughout the world.
Bahá'u'lláh is special because humanity has all of his copious
writings in the original form, not handed down through years of copying,
which allows for potential faults.
One central tenet of all
Bahá'ís is the sanctity of all people. All individuals of every
creed are respected. Bahá'ís promote an unprecedented amount of
diversity in their religion and refuse to condemn anyone as
"All religions are a continuation and expansion of the
promise," said Fiorito, referring to the promise of God to always be
present with people.
Because Bahá'ís view all people as
brothers and sisters within the greater spirit of God and this creation,
they reject all forms of exclusion. At a Bahá'í fireside, all
members of the community regardless of religious affiliation are
welcomed to enjoy food and conversation in the home of a Bahá'í.
"When you get right down to it, we are all the same. Every human
being is seen as a child of God and we are all, in essence, equal," said
The Bahá'í calendar features many feasts to
celebrate and remember principle virtues of the Faith. One virtue that
Bahá'ís find in all major religions worldwide is respect for
"The biggest common bond is the Golden Rule," said
The Bahá'ís maintain many moral codes that are
spelled out in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Bahá'ís try to
remain politically neutral because to engage in partisan politics breeds
a climate of distrust and hostility, which are two qualities all
Bahá'ís seek to cure rather than indulge.
not believe personal transgressions will render an eternal punishment of
death on their souls. Rather, Bahá'ís believe in a form of hell
that essentially involves the complete separation of one's soul from God
through immoral living. At this point, only the grace of God and prayers
from living souls can help this distanced soul from being little more
than a "stone."
"Heaven and hell are not physical places but they
are very real states of being," said Fiorito.
The source for the
Bahá'í Faith is Bahá'u'lláh and his teachings, which
Bahá'ís believe come directly from God. Fiorito said the very name
of God is a mere human creation through words that cannot conceivably
embrace the totality of the omnipotent Creator.
Bahá'ís readily express their own ability to converse in some form
While the Bahá'í Faith does have many firm
convictions and tenets of faith, one of the most important is the
respect for all people and their ideas. Therefore, diverse opinions on
theological topics are not met with diatribe, but rather welcomed with
the insatiable search for religious truth.
©Copyright 2001, The Times Herald