On Being a Baha'i
Becoming a Member of the Baha'i Faith
5 min. Read
The central theme of Bahá'u'lláh's message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. God, Bahá'u'lláh said, has set in motion historical forces that are breaking down traditional barriers of race, class, creed, and nation and that will, in time, give birth to a universal civilization: The Kingdom of God on Earth. The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and to assist the processes of unification.
One of the purposes of the Bahá'í Faith is to help make this possible. A worldwide community of some five million Bahá'ís, representative of most of the nations, races and cultures on earth, is working to give Bahá'u'lláh's teachings practical effect. Everyone and Baha’is in particular in an individual and as a collective community action should seek out ways to achieve these ends.
BASIC TEACHINGS OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH
Bahá'u'lláh taught that there is one God whose successive revelations of His will to humanity have been the chief civilizing force in history. The agents of this process have been the Divine Messengers whom men have seen chiefly as the founders of separate religious systems but whose common purpose has been to bring the human race to spiritual and moral maturity. Humanity is now coming of age. It is this that makes possible the unification of the human family and the building of a peaceful, global society. Baha’is believe it is the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth as prophesied in all of the world’s great religions.
Among the principles which the Bahá'í Faith promotes as vital to the achievement of this goal are:
The abandonment of all forms of prejudice.
Assurance to women of full equality of opportunity with men.
Recognition of the unity and relativity of religious truth.
The need for the elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth.
The implementation of universal education to all people.
The responsibility of each person to independently search for truth.
The establishment of a world federation that would settle international disputes and provide for international cooperation.
Recognition that true religion is in harmony with reason and the pursuit of scientific knowledge.
BAHA’I - A WAY OF LIFE
Bahá'u'lláh taught that each human being is a "mine rich in gems" unknown even to the owner, let alone to others, and inexhaustible in its wealth. The purpose of life is to develop these capacities both for one's own life and for the service of humanity. Life in this world, as Bahá'u'lláh presents it, is like the life of a child in the womb of its mother: the moral intellectual, and spiritual powers which a human being develops here, in this world and with the help of God, will be the "limbs" and "organs" needed for the soul's progress in the worlds beyond this earthly one.
The way of life which Bahá'ís seek to cultivate, therefore, is one that encourages personal development along a spiritual pathway that is at the center of personal transformation. Such transformed persons and their associated conduct, when operating collectively, would have redeeming effects on families, neighborhoods, communities, and societies. Daily prayer and meditation free the soul from conditioned patterns and open it and the communities to which they belong to new possibilities. A dedication to a life of service to humanity founded in Divine Principles then transforms individuals, communities, and nations.
BAHA’I LIFE - HOW TO DO IT
In his writings, Baha’u’llah ruled out the creation of any form of priesthood or clergy among his followers. For this reason, Baha’is have no priests, deacons, vicars, bishops, clerics, mullahs, monks, nuns, rabbis, gurus, pastors, preachers, reverends, or ministers. For Baha’is, no rank of professional individuals leads the religion. Therefore, it remains the primary responsibility and obligation of the individual Baha’i to seek and implement ways that lead to the perfection their character. Since character determines personal behaviors, responsive actions by Baha’is transform themselves and their communities. For Baha’is, constantly deepening one’s spiritual understanding becomes a necessary component of their life’s journey.
Some ways to become a Baha’i are through:
Prayer, Meditation, & Fasting
“(P)ray to God that daily ye may advance in spirituality, that God’s love may be more and more manifested in you, that the thoughts of your hearts may be purified, and that your faces may be ever turned towards Him. May you one and all approach to the threshold of unity, and enter into the Kingdom. May each of you be like unto a flaming torch, lighted and burning bright with the fire of the Love of God.”
Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 75.
Prayers are considered communication with God. All sincere prayers are acceptable. Visiting and reading Baha’i Prayers for various and general prayers by Baha’u’llah, The Ba’b, and ‘Abdul’-Baha’ will show that these have no “Amen” statement at their conclusion. Baha’is believe that there should be no end to prayers – that one’s life be one continuing prayer to God.
Continuous Improvement through Deepening and growing in Faith
“Let each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 138
The Baha’i Comprehensive Deepening Program and The Dynamic Force of Example are two sources of deepening that can help individuals and communities in their spiritual life journey. These two and other resources provide context for practical daily individual actions based on what the Will of God desires for Man.
Become honest, trustworthy, forgiving, generous, humble. See the good in each and all.
“The virtues and attributes pertaining unto God are all evident and manifest, and have been mentioned and described in all the heavenly Books. Among them are trustworthiness, truthfulness, purity of heart while communing with God, forbearance, resignation to whatever the Almighty hath decreed, contentment with the things His Will hath provided, patience, nay, thankfulness in the midst of tribulation, and complete reliance, in all circumstances, upon Him. These rank, according to the estimate of God, among the highest and most laudable of all acts. All other acts are, and will ever remain, secondary and subordinate unto them.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 290
By striving to embody the character, attributes, and values revealed by and witnessed of those Holy persons associated with the world’s great religions, the world is changed. Now could be an ideal time to start. Visit our Baha'is of Sylvania community website to see what our members are doing locally to improve our world. Visit our United States Baha'i National Center for practical examples of what other Baha'is and their communities are doing.
Seek out and implement ways to be of true service to others.
“Service to humanity is service to God.”
Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 8
In your social circles, community, family, vocation, and profession, seek out and implement things that make things better.
Actively work to bring into existence or enhance conditions that address the Principles of the Teachings of Baha-u-llah.
“Say: Beware, O people of Bahá, lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds. Strive that ye may be enabled to manifest to the peoples of the earth the signs of God, and to mirror forth His commandments. Let your acts be a guide unto all mankind, for the professions of most men, be they high or low, differ from their conduct. It is through your deeds that ye can distinguish yourselves from others. Through them the brightness of your light can be shed upon the whole earth. Happy is the man that heedeth My counsel, and keepeth the precepts prescribed by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.”
Bahá'u'lláh Compilation of Compilations, Volume 1, pages 367-384
Most everyone you meet believes in World Peace; but World Peace presently is not in existence. This can only be achieved by behavioral change – individually and collectively. Living to and applying the Divine Principles of The Baha’i Faith will start the process for the betterment of the world and the improvement of the human condition. There are many statements provided by Baha'i Institutions covering various topics concerning social needs and their solutions. The Prosperity of Humankind, For the Betterment of the World, and Social Economic Development are just a few statements offering our insights, perspectives, and practical considerations for sustainable actions.
Seek out and become a valued member of a community.
“(C)onsort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship, to proclaim that which the Speaker on Sinai hath set forth and to observe fairness in all matters.
They that are endued with sincerity and faithfulness should associate with all the peoples and kindreds of the earth with joy and radiance, inasmuch as consorting with people hath promoted and will continue to promote unity and concord, which in turn are conducive to the maintenance of order in the world and to the regeneration of nations.
Tablets of Baha’u’llah, pp. 35-36.
Man is a social being and in need of others. Joining with others of like minds and aspirations will provide loving and positive reinforcement to one’s convictions. Also joining with other Baha'is and their communities will provide you with mutual support and power as you embark on your journey of faith and resultant display of positive constructive action. Baha'i Communities offer loving and warm invitation to everyone to visit and become our friends.
BECOMING A MEMBER OF THE BAHA’I FAITH COMMUNITY
Baha’is have no clergy, no rituals, no rites and no baptism—so becoming a Baha’i doesn’t involve any ceremony or particular observance. Abdu’l-Baha once gave this broad definition, “A Baha’i is someone who loves and serves all humanity.”
Becoming a Baha’i is a heartfelt, spiritual and deeply personal decision. One becomes a Baha’i once they begin believing in Baha’u’llah and in the Baha’i teachings. Since the Baha’i Faith has no clergy or initiation, becoming a Baha’i simply means making the purely individual commitment that you intend to try to follow and embody Baha’u’llah’s teachings. That’s it.
The Baha’i Faith does have an formalized administrative order that handles services offered with the general individual membership and the various institutions created by its membership.
Formal Baha'i Membership
For Baha’is, becoming a Baha’i is recognized as a part of a two-fold process. As mentioned above, the first part consists of one’s personal acceptance of Baha’u’llah, The Ba’b, ‘Abdu’l-Baha’, the Divine Cause They presented, and a personal decision to follow certain Divine Laws They revealed to mankind. This first step is nothing more than a personal recognition and importance of the Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith.
The second part involves actual enrollment in the Baha’i Faith and the Community of its members. There is a formal process in place for formal enrollment as a member of the Baha’i Faith. This is done by letting another Baha’i or the related institutions know of your wish to join. Upon enrollment, a Baha’i Identification Card with a personal number will be provided. Enrolled Baha’i Members have certain rights such as:
Taking part in the Baha’i Electoral Process
Giving to a Baha’i Fund and Treasury
Performing the Rite of Baha’i Pilgrimage
Active participation within their Baha’i Community and its affairs
The Solemnization of marriage
Those seeking enrollment in our community of international believers can start by contacting us or by visiting our United States Baha’i National Offices.