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The Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. Its founder, Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892), is regarded by Bahá'ís as the latest Messenger of God that reaches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad. 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 principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and to assist the processes of unification.
Bahá'u'lláh said, "The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens," and that, as foretold in all the sacred scriptures of the past, now is the time for humanity to live in unity.
The Bahá'í teaching of the unity of humanity stems from the teaching that all humans have been created equal in the image of God, and that God does not make any distinction between people. The teaching emphasizes the unity of humanity transcending all divisions of race, nation, gender and social class, while celebrating its diversity. The Bahá'í writings states that since the human race is one unified organic unit, all people have the same basic capacities, and that the physical differences, such as skin color, are superficial and do not make one ethnic group superior to another.
The Bahá'í Faith upholds the unity of God, recognizes the unity of His Prophets, and inculcates the principle of the oneness and wholeness of the entire human race. The message of God He brought to humanity for this age include the following:
- The oneness of mankind
- Universal peace upheld by a world government
- Independent investigation of truth
- The common foundation of all religions
- The essential harmony of science and religion
- The equality of men and women
- Elimination of prejudice of all kinds
- Universal compulsory education
- A spiritual solution to the economic problem
- A universal auxiliary language
A fundamental teaching of Bahá'u'lláh is the oneness of the world of humanity. Addressing mankind He says, "Ye are all leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch." By this it is meant that the world of humanity is like a tree, the nations or peoples are the different limbs or branches of that tree and the individual human creatures are as the fruits and blossoms thereof.
The world is in greatest need of international peace. Until it is established, mankind will not attain composure and tranquility. It is necessary that the nations and governments organize an international tribunal to which all their disputes and differences shall be referred. The decision of that tribunal shall be final.
Bahá'u'lláh exhorted them (rulers of the world) to peace and international agreement, making it incumbent upon them to establish a board of international arbitration; that from all nations and governments of the world there should be delegates selected for a congress of nations which should constitute a universal arbitral court of justice to settle international disputes.
Warfare and strife will be uprooted, disagreement and dissension pass away and Universal Peace unite the nations and peoples of the world. All mankind will dwell together as one family, blend as the waves of one sea, shine as stars of one firmament and appear as fruits of the same tree.
God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth. He has endowed man with ears that he may hear the message of reality and conferred upon him the gift of reason by which he may discover things for himself. This is his endowment and equipment for the investigation of reality. Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another's ears nor comprehend with another's brain. Each human creature has individual endowment, power and responsibility in the creative plan of God.
The foundation of all the divine religions is one. All are based upon reality. Reality does not admit plurality, yet amongst mankind there have arisen differences concerning the manifestations of God. Some have been Zoroastrians, some are Buddhists, some Jews, Christians, Mohammedans and so on. This has become a source of divergence whereas the teachings of the holy souls who founded the divine religions are one in essence and reality All these have served the world of humanity.... All have guided souls to the attainment of perfections, but among the nations certain imitations of ancestral forms of worship have arisen. These imitations are not the foundation and essence of the divine religions. Inasmuch as they differ from the reality and the essential teachings of the Manifestations of God, dissensions have arisen and prejudice has developed. Religious prejudice thus becomes the cause of warfare and battle. If we abandon these time-worn imitations and investigate reality all of us will be unified. No discord will remain; antagonism will disappear. All will associate in fellowship. All will enjoy the cordial bonds of friendship. The world of creation will then attain composure. The dark and gloomy clouds of blind imitations and dogmatic variances will be scattered and dispelled; the Sun of Reality will shine most gloriously.
Religion must conform to science and reason, otherwise it is superstition. God has created man in order that he may perceive the verity of existence and endowed him with mind or reason to discover truth. Therefore scientific knowledge and religious belief must be conformable to the analysis of this divine faculty in man.
There must be an equality of rights between men and women. Women shall receive an equal privilege of education. This will enable them to qualify and progress in all degrees of occupation and accomplishment. For the world of humanity possesses two wings, man and woman. If one wing remains incapable and defective, it will restrict the power of the other, and full flight will be impossible. Therefore the completeness and perfection of the human world is dependent upon the equal development of these two factors.
Prejudice of all kinds, whether religious, racial, patriotic or political is destructive of divine foundations in man. All the warfare and bloodshed in human history have been the outcome of prejudice. This earth is one home and nativity. God has created mankind with equal endowment and right to live upon the earth. As a city is the home of all its inhabitants, although each may have his individual place or residence therein, so the earth's surface is one wide native land or home for all races of humankind.
In asmuch as ignorance and lack of education are barriers of separation among mankind, all must receive training and instruction. Trough this provision the lack of mutual understanding will be remedied and the unity of mankind furthered and advanced. Universal education is a universal law. It is therefore incumbent upon every father to teach and instruct his children according to his possibilities. If he is unable to educate them, the body politic, the representative of the people, must provide the means for their education.
Among the results of the manifestation of spiritual forces will be that the human world will adapt itself to a new social form, the justice of God will become manifest throughout human affairs and human equality will be universally established.The poor will receive a great bestowal and the rich attain eternal happiness. For although at the present time the rich enjoy the greatest luxury and comfort, they are nevertheless deprived of eternal happiness; for eternal happiness is contingent upon giving and the poor are everywhere in the state of abject need. Through the manifestation of God's great equity the poor of the world will be rewarded and assisted fully and there will be a readjustment in the economic conditions of mankind so that in the future there will not be the abnormally rich nor the abject poor. The rich will enjoy the privilege of this new economic condition as well as the poor, for owing to certain provision and restriction they will not be able to accumulate so much as to be burdened by its management, while the poor will be relieved from the stress of want and misery.
Bahá'u'lláh has proclaimed the adoption of a universal language. A language shall be agreed upon by which unity will be established in the world. Each person will require training in two languages, his native tongue and the universal auxiliary form of speech. This will facilitate intercommunication and dispel the misunderstandings which the barriers of language have occasioned in the world.