What is a Bahá’í?
If you are thinking about becoming a Bahá’í, it is probably because you have read or heard some of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings and recognise them as the Word of God. If this has led you to recognise that Bahá’u’lláh is the Messenger of God for this age then you are a Bahá’í. In this case you will already realise that all the religions of the past are from God and understand that the Bahá’í Faith is the path we should follow at this period of history.
You have probably been touched by the words of Bahá’u’lláh, but you may need to know more about His life in order to be able to understand the sacrifices He made to bring the Message of God to us. You may also have learned something about His Son, `Abdu’l-Bahá, Who set us a perfect example of how to live life as a Bahá’í. You have probably also heard about the Báb, Who came to prepare the way for Bahá’u’lláh.
Rights and Privileges
It is likely that you have attended many of the regular events within the Bahá’í community, such as devotional meetings and study circles, but you have probably not attended a Nineteen Day Feast, unless you live in a very small community without a Local Spiritual Assembly. The Feast is the main meeting of the local Bahá’í community. It has a spiritual and social purpose, but it is also where we discuss the business and the finances of the community. As a registered Bahá’í you would be able to take a full part in the Feast and also take part in the elections for the members of the Local Spiritual Assembly. You would also have the privilege of giving to the Bahá’í Funds. This is entirely voluntary, but as a Bahá’í you would no doubt wish to contribute to the progress of the community and the wider world.
There are Bahá’í laws and principles covering many aspects of life. They are all designed by God for our happiness and well-being - for our spiritual, mental and physical health. The most fundamental need is for the spiritual food provided every day by prayer and reading the Writings. If you recognise Bahá’u’lláh then you will no doubt wish to follow His teachings, but you may need some time to adjust to this new pattern of life.
The Local Spiritual Assembly and the national and international bodies are all democratic institutions. The members are elected not only because they are capable people, but also because of their spiritual qualities. We can therefore have faith that they will endeavour to make the right decisions and that we can follow these decisions knowing that they will turn out for the best. `Abdu’l-Bahá reassured us that even if the decision is wrong, if everyone does their best to make it work, then unity will be maintained and the wrong decision will be made right.
Bahá’u’lláh told us that the world body, called the Universal House of Justice, is divinely guided so we can have complete confidence in their decisions. It may occasionally happen that we don’t understand why a particular decision has been made – it is only with hindsight that we can see the wisdom in it.
When Bahá’u’lláh passed to the next world, He handed authority to His Son `Abdu’l-Bahá, Who continued to explain His Father’s Message and to guide the Bahá’í world. `Abdu’l-Bahá passed on authority in His will to His grandson, Shoghi Effendi, who became the Guardian of the Faith. Under the Guardian’s care the Bahá’í community spread across the globe. After he died, the Bahá’í community had developed sufficiently to elect the first Universal House of Justice. Because of this clear line of succession, the Bahá’ís have remained united. It is essential that we preserve this unity and strengthen it, because unity is what the world most desperately needs today.
No Need to Be Perfect
Some people think that they need to be perfect before they can become Bahá’ís – if this were the case, there would be no Bahá’ís at all! We are all trying to improve ourselves and by calling ourselves Bahá’ís we simply put ourselves on the path. We open ourselves to the Word of God for this day and this helps and guides us on our way. By becoming part of the Bahá’í community we are able to help and support one another along that way. As Bahá’ís it is then our duty and privilege to do whatever we can to help others to recognise Bahá’u’lláh.
Registering as a Bahá’í
“This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Let him that seeketh, attain it…”
If you feel that you are a Bahá’í in your heart, that is your own personal decision. You will obviously then wish to become part of the worldwide Bahá’í community by registering yourself as a Bahá’í. As already mentioned, in this age the most important need is for unity amongst all the people of the world. The Bahá’ís need to show that this is possible by working actively together within the Bahá’í community.
You can register yourself as a Bahá’í by telling another Bahá’í and giving them your details. Alternatively, you can send your details to the Bahá’í national office; see contact.bahai.org to ask a question or find a local contact. In either case you will need to provide the following details and contact information:
Date of birth (optional if over 21)
It’s as simple as that.
The text of all these leaflets remains the copyright of Warwick Bahá'í Bookshop. The Bookshop is happy for people to download individual copies for their own purposes. Printed copies can be purchased from the Warwick Bookshop. Individuals or communities wishing to translate or print these leaflets in other countries please contact the Bookshop for permission.