Suicide and the Bahai Faith

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Posted by Jonah ( on August 08, 2003 at 02:45:55:

In Reply to: David Kelly posted by Mike on July 21, 2003 at 23:22:13:

In response to recent events, a small group of Baha'i physicians have prepared this statement, which I've posted to Introductory Materials: Suicide. -Jonah

Suicide and the Baha'i Faith

prepared as a statement by Baha'i physicians (anonymous)

In view of the recent discussion by the media on the attitude of the Baha'i Faith to suicide (e.g. the Guardian's Suicide is Always a Tragedy from 7/27/2003), the following should be considered:
  1. Suicide is "condemned" in the Baha'i teachings, and alongside the other world religions, it is "forbidden".

  2. Such an act does not mean that the person "has ceased to be a Baha'i" or lose their entitlement to a Baha'i funeral and memorial service.

  3. The Baha'i teachings on suicide need to be understood in the context of beliefs on the purpose of life and the afterlife. For Baha'is, the purpose of life is to develop one's spiritual capacity and, in so doing, contribute to "an ever-advancing civilization". Baha'is believe in an afterlife, of which little is known. It is thought to be a spiritual existence, and those that die retain their individuality in the afterlife and potentially continue to develop spiritually.

  4. Baha'is believe that the Ultimate Reality, what some religions call God, is omniscient and merciful, and will deal with every soul justly. Baha'is have no knowledge of the nature by which the Ultimate Reality will deal with individuals: "The manner in which the Supreme Being, in His Justice as well as in His Mercy, will deal with every individual soul is a mystery unknown to us on this earthly plane". In some cases, the Baha'i teachings indicate that God will be merciful and forgiving. For example, in response to an early Baha'i who committed suicide, the Baha'i writings stated: "He will be immersed in the ocean of pardon and forgiveness and will become the recipient of bounty and favour."

  1. Letters of behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated 29 March 1945 cited in Lights of Guidance.
  2. Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu'l-Baha, page 200-1.

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