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Home: Religion: Bahai: Bahai Faith Main Teachings.

Bahai Faith Teachings

The Bahá'í teachings represent a considerable number of theological, social, and spiritual ideas that were established in the Bahá'í Faith by its Central Figures. These, combined with the authentic teachings of several past religions, including Islam and Christianity, are regarded by Bahá'ís as teachings revealed by God.


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Main Teachings of the Bahai Faith

Three core assertions of the Bahá'í Faith, sometimes termed the "three onenesses", are central in the teachings of the religion. They are the Oneness of God, the Oneness of Religion and the Oneness of Humanity. They are also referred to as the unity of God, unity of religion, and unity of mankind. The Bahá'í writings state that there is a single, all powerful god, revealing his message through a series of divine messengers or educators, regarding them as one progressively revealed religion, to one single humanity, who all possess a rational soul and only differ according to colour and culture. This idea is fundamental not only to explaining Bahá'í beliefs, but explaining the attitude Bahá'ís have towards other religions, which they regard as divinely inspired. The acceptance of every race and culture in the world has brought Bahá'í demographics diversity, becoming the second most widespread faith in the world, and translating its literature into over 800 languages.

The Golden Rule, A Summary of Bahai Teachings

The most prominent and distinctive principles in the Bahá'í teachings are Love and Unity, which are exemplified by the Golden rule, and the many social principles.

Shoghi Effendi, the appointed head of the religion from 1921-1957, wrote the following summary of what he considered to be the distinguishing principles of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, which, he said, together with the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas constitute the bed-rock of the Bahá'í Faith:

    The independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition; the oneness of the entire human race, the pivotal principle and fundamental doctrine of the Faith; the basic unity of all religions; the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class or national; the harmony which must exist between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of human kind is able to soar; the introduction of compulsory education; the adoption of a universal auxiliary language; the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty; the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations; the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship; the glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations; and the establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal of all mankind—these stand out as the essential elements, which Bahá'u'lláh proclaimed.

The oneness of God

Bahá'ís believe that there is one supernatural being, God, who has created all the creatures and forces in the universe;[3] God is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfect; and that although people have different concepts of God and God's nature, and call God by different names, (Allah, Dios, Tao, etc.) everyone is speaking of the same one being.

The Bahá'í teachings state that God is too great for humans to fully understand or to create an image of God.[3] Even the titles that Bahá'ís attribute to God such as the All-Powerful, and the All-Loving are derived from limited human experiences of power, love, or justice. Bahá'u'lláh teaches that knowledge of God is limited to those attributes and qualities which are perceptible to us, and thus direct knowledge of God is not possible. Furthermore Bahá'u'lláh states that the knowledge of the attributes of God is revealed to humanity through the messengers sent to humanity.

Bahá'í House of Worship, Langenhain, Germany

As our knowledge of things, even of created and limited things, is knowledge of their qualities and not of their essence, how is it possible to comprehend in its essence the Divine Reality, which is unlimited? ... Knowing God, therefore, means the comprehension and the knowledge of His attributes, and not of His Reality. This knowledge of the attributes is also proportioned to the capacity and power of man; it is not absolute.

At the same time the Bahá'í teachings talk about a personal god, conscious of his creation, and "not an unconscious and undetermined force." Shoghi Effendi also notes that being a personal god does not mean that God has a human or physical form.

The Bahá'í teachings state that one can get closer to God through prayer, meditation, study of the holy writings, and service.

Bahá'í Faith and the unity of humanity

The Bahá'í writings teach that there is but one humanity and all people are equal in the sight of God. The Bahá'í Faith emphasizes the unity of humanity transcending all divisions of race, nation, gender, caste, and social class, while celebrating its diversity. `Abdu'l-Bahá states that the unification of mankind has now become "the paramount issue and question in the religious and political conditions of the world. The Bahá'í writings affirm the biological, political, and spiritual unity of mankind. Bahá'u'lláh wrote:
    Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship.
Bahai House of Worship in Wilmette Illinois
Symbols of many religions on a pillar of the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, U.S.
Regarding biological unity the Bahá'í writings state that differences between various races, nations, and ethnic groups are either superficial (e.g. skin color) or the result of differences in background or "education". A basic Bahá'í teaching is "the elimination of all forms of prejudice," which refers to not only the elimination of racial prejudice but also that of other forms of prejudice such as gender discrimination.

The Bahá'í writings also proclaim a glorious future Golden Age in which the whole earth is united under a world federal government.[11] Bahá'ís state that while ethnic and cultural diversity will continue to exist, humanity's first allegiance will be with the human race rather than any subsidiary group such as race, nation, or ethnic group. There will be an end not only to war, but even to inter-group rivalry.

While the Bahá'í writings talk about the unity of the world and its peoples, unity is not equated to uniformity, but instead the Bahá'í writings affirm the value of cultural, national and individual diversity through the principle of "Unity in diversity," which states that while recognizing the unity of mankind, cultural diversity should be celebrated. Unity in diversity is commonly described in the Bahá'í writings through the analogy of flowers of one garden, where the different colours of the flowers add to the beauty of the garden.

    Bahai Faith does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnic origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world... Its watchword is unity in diversity...

Bahá'í Faith and the unity of religion

The Bahá'í teachings state that there is but one religion which is progressively revealed by God, through prophets/messengers, to mankind as humanity matures and its capacity to understand also grows. The outward differences in the religions, the Bahá'í writings state, are due to the exigencies of the time and place the religion was revealed. Bahá'u'lláh claimed to be the most recent, but not the last, in a series of divine educators which include Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, and others.

The Bahá'í writings state that the essential nature of the messengers is twofold: they are at once human and divine. They are divine in that they all come from the same god and expound his teachings, and thus they can be seen in the same light, but at the same times they are separate individuals known by different names, who fulfill definite missions and are entrusted with particular revelations. Bahá'u'lláh in many places states that denying any of the messengers of God is equivalent to denying all of them, and God himself. In other references `Abdu'l-Bahá said that a Bahá’í will choose death over denial of any of the great prophets, whether Moses, Muhammad or Christ.

Regarding the relationships of these educators, which Bahá'ís refer to as Manifestations of God Bahá'u'lláh writes:

    od hath ordained the knowledge of these sanctified Beings to be identical with the knowledge of His own Self. Whoso recognizeth them hath recognized God. Whoso hearkeneth to their call, hath hearkened to the Voice of God, and whoso testifieth to the truth of their Revelation, hath testified to the truth of God Himself. Whoso turneth away from them, hath turned away from God, and whoso disbelieveth in them, hath disbelieved in God . . . They are the Manifestations of God amidst men, the evidences of His Truth, and the signs of His glory.

Bahai Faith Mystical Teachings

The purpose of human life, say Bahá'ís, is spiritual growth. This is conceived almost as an organic process, like the development of a fetus, and continues after death. Neither a physical Heaven or Hell are present in the Bahá'í Faith. The Bahá'í teachings present "Heaven" and "Hell" to be states of spiritual nearness or remoteness to God, and that life continues in an afterlife through which the soul may progress infinitely through ever-more-exalted spiritual realms, eventually coming to stand before the Presence of God. The Bahá'í faith teaches that this process continues on in the spiritual afterlife, and not through a series of births and re-births as in reincarnation.

Bahá'ís believe that while God's essence can never be fully fathomed, he can be understood through his "names and attributes." These are sometimes referred to as gems, and include such qualities as compassion, justice, knowledge, and wisdom. Education (especially of a spiritual nature) reveals the divine gems which God has placed within our souls.

Bahá'u'lláh's Hidden Words, The Seven Valleys, and The Four Valleys are common mystical texts. Bahá'í spirituality tends to consist of textual study, prayer, and recitation, which cultivates "the core of religious faith" which is "that mystical feeling which unites man with God." Monasticism is forbidden, and Bahá'ís attempt to ground their spirituality in ordinary daily life. Performing useful work with a spirit of service, for example, is not only required but considered a form of worship.

The Bahá'í Faith teaches of angels in a double sense. The first has some similarities to the traditional sense of the Abrahamic religions or the Eastern sense of Devas. These beings include those souls who have passed on, as well as other spiritual beings, and are often called "The Concourse on High" in the Bahá'í texts. They can assist us in time of need and be sources of inspiration.[30] The second sense is that of an angelic state, and it is represented as a heightened spiritual state of development in human beings here on this earth:

    And now, inasmuch as these holy beings have sanctified themselves from every human limitation, have become endowed with the attributes of the spiritual, and have been adorned with the noble traits of the blessed, they therefore have been designated as "angels." Such is the meaning of these verses, every word of which hath been expounded by the aid of the most lucid texts, the most convincing arguments, and the best established evidences.

Bahá'í Faith and Gender Equality

Bahá'í Faith and gender equality refers to the fundamental teaching of the Bahá'í Faith. The teaching states that men and women are equal, and that the equality of the sexes is a spiritual and moral standard that is essential for the unification of the planet and the unfoldment of peace. The Bahá'í teaching notes the importance of implementing the principle in individual, family, and community life. While the Bahá'í teachings assert the full spiritual and social equality of women to men, the notion of equality does not imply sameness and there are some aspects of gender distinctiveness or gender differentiation in certain areas of life.

The equality of men and women is a fundamental Bahá'í principle, that is explicit in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, and particularly in the writings and discourses of `Abdu'l-Bahá, his son and chosen interpreter. The teaching and its vision of the community in central to Bahá'í community life as is implemented as a practical level. The Bahá'í teachings state that neither women are not inferior to men, and should not be subordinate to men in aspects of social life. In the Bahá'í view, women have always been equal to men, and the reason why women have as of yet not achieved this equality is because of the lack of adequate educational and social opportunities, and that men because of their greater physical strength have prevented women from developing their true potential.

Spiritual station: Bahá'u'lláh stated that in the present day, God has removed the distinctions that had previously differentiated the stations of men and women, and that women and men were equal in the sight of God.

Bahá'u'lláh wrote: Exalted, immensely exalted is He Who hath removed differences and established harmony...[T]he Pen of the Most High hath lifted distinctions from between His servants and handmaidens and ... hath conferred upon all a station and rank on the same plane.

Instead of their gender, Bahá'u'lláh wrote that the spiritual station of each person depends on their recognition and devotion to God. `Abdu'l-Bahá stated that God did not differentiate between people based on gender and that all were made in the image of God. He further stated that both women and men have the same potential for intelligence, virtue and prowess

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