Baha'is to celebrate birth anniversary

Posted: Friday, October 19, 2001

The Central Peninsula Baha'i Commun-ity will observe the 182nd anniversary of the birth of the Bab, Prophet-Herald of the Baha'i faith today at 7 p.m. at the Ridgeway Baha'i Center in Soldotna.

The Baha'i Faith is an independent monotheistic religion with a worldwide population of some 5 million people. They come from more than 2,000 different tribal, racial and ethnic groups and live in 235 countries and dependent territories. The Britannica Book of the Year (1992) referred to the Baha'i Faith as the second-most geographically widespread religion in the world, after Christianity. It originated in Iran in 1844 and has its own sacred scriptures, laws, calendar and holy days.

The Baha'i Faith teaches that the Founders of the world's major religions, including Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ and Muhammad, are divine teachers sent by one God to educate humanity through teachings and laws suited to its stage of development. The Baha'i Faith recognizes two additional teachers for this age -- the Bab and Baha'u'llah.

Baha'is believe religious revelation will continue in the future to provide guidance to "an ever-advancing civilization."

In 1844, the Bab ("the Gate") founded the Babi Faith. His main purpose was to prepare humanity for the imminent appearance of another divine teacher who would lead humanity into an age of universal peace.

In 1863, Baha'u'llah ("the Glory of God") announced that He was the figure foretold by the Bab, and the Baha'i Faith was born. The Faith's unity has been preserved through the provisions of a written "Covenant," which established the Faith's principles of succession and institutional authority. There are no clergy in the Baha'i Faith. The Baha'i community governs itself by elected councils at the local, national and international levels, and only Baha'is are permitted to contribute to the funds of their Faith. Baha'i in Iran have suffered persecutions for their beliefs since the Faith's earliest days.

The main theme of the Baha'i revelation is unity. It teaches that "the Earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens." Its writings contain principles, laws and institutions for a world civilization, including abandonment of all forms of prejudice; equality between the sexes; recognition of the common source and essential oneness of the world's great religions; elimination of the extremes of poverty and wealth; universal compulsory education; responsibility of each individual to search independently for truth; establishment of a world federal system based on principles of collective security; and recognition that religion is in harmony with reason and scientific knowledge.

Because of its commitment to these ideals, the Baha'i community has been an active supporter of international organizations such as the United Nations. Service to humanity is another central teaching of the Baha'i Faith, which has led Baha'is to initiate thousands of social and economic development projects -- most of them modest, grass-roots efforts such as schools, village health care campaigns, and environmental projects -- around the world.

The Baha'i World Centre in the Acre-Haifa area of Israel has been both the spiritual and administrative center of the Baha'i Faith since Baha'u'llah was exiled here in 1868. The Shrines (burial places) of the Bab on Mount Carmel in Haifa and of Baha'u'llah near Acre are the two holiest places on Earth for Baha'is.

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