“Forgive my ignorance, but I have never heard of Baha’i before: An introduction to the Bahai’i Faith

by Karla Wynn

One of the things that struck me as a new student in the Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Care Department at Loyola was the welcome that I received from the faculty, staff, and students. However, upon embarking on my first semester here at Loyola, aside from my professor of Human Development, Frank Richardson, Jr. Ph.D., few of my professors and the vast majority of my academic colleagues never heard of Bahá’u'lláh, the Bahá’í Faith or Its Teachings. Most of the time, when introducing myself as a Bahá’í, the usual responses received are blank stares, or “forgive my ignorance, but I have never heard of this before. How do Ba-what did you say, yes, Bahá’ís feel about Jesus?”

Here is my short description: the Bahá’í Faith (www.bahai.org; www.bahai.us) is the latest chapter in the Eternal Book of God’s Revelation, and was founded by Bahá’u'lláh (1817-1892). As Bahá’ís, we believe that He is the Mouthpiece of God for the time in which we live and that He is the Return of Christ, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth come in the Glory of the Father (John 16:7, John, 16:13, Mt, 25:31, KJV). Hence, Bahá’u'lláh, is one of the many Divine Messengers, Teachers, and Manifestations of the God that include Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ, and Muhammad.

Our core beliefs are that there is One God, that there is One Eternal Faith of God, and that Humanity shares One Common Ancestry. Bahá’u'lláh teaches that humanity is in its turbulent adolescence and is in the process of entering a stage of adulthood that includes the unification of the entire human race under one spiritual umbrella. However, in order to achieve unity of the entire human race, the Bahá’í Faith promotes these principles – which we wholeheartedly believe are spiritual principles: the abandonment of all forms of prejudice; the assurance to women of full equality of opportunity with men; the recognition of the unity and relativity of religious truth; the elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty; the realization of universal education; the responsibility of each person to independently search for truth; the establishment of a global commonwealth of nations; and the recognition that true religion is in harmony with reason and the pursuit of scientific knowledge (http://info.bahai.org, 2010).

My personal encounter with the Bahá’í Faith happened in 1976 when I was 12, and a neighbor in my native Brooklyn, New York neighborhood, introduced my mother, younger sister and me to the Teachings of Bahá’u'lláh at a dinner meeting that was held at her home. There, we met some people whom I thought were a “new brand of Puerto Ricans who ate green rice.” Since that night, we began attending Sunday Public Meetings at the New York City Bahá’í Center in Manhattan, and eventually my mother joined the Faith. I followed suit on the eve of my 17th birthday in June of 1981. My sister did the same in 1985.

What attracted me to the Faith, initially were not the teachings – per se, but the early history of the Faith itself through the pages of a book called The Dawn Breakers: Nabíl’s Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahá’í Revelation, 1887-1888, (Trans. from the Original Persian and Edited by Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í Publishing Trust, Wilmette, IL). Following that, my interest in the Bahá’í Teachings remained alive by the principles of the elimination of all forms of prejudice, the eradication of racism, the equality of women with men, and the need for universal education for everyone regardless of socio-economic class, ethnicity, gender or the like – all spiritual teachings in the Bahá’í Faith that others consider to be “social justice issues.” Incidentally, the Bahá’ís in Iran where the Faith was born, are being denied basic human rights and I wish to direct your attention to the documentary entitled “Education Under Fire” at http://educationunderfire.com/.

Inasmuch as there is limited space elaborate on the Bahá’í Faith, please visit the following websites for more information: www.bahai.org, www.bahai.us, http://bahhai.org, and a recent CBS News broadcast “What they Believe: Zoroastrians, Hindus and Bahá’ís” at:  http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7405258n&tag=api.

6 thoughts on ““Forgive my ignorance, but I have never heard of Baha’i before: An introduction to the Bahai’i Faith

  1. I learned abou the Bahá’í Faith in Dr. Richardson’s class and I found the discussion and beliefs fascinating. I agree with the teachings you mention. My prior education and experience has been in public health. The one thing that I find missing is the spiritual health of our communities. With its all-inclusive principles, Bahá’í sems like a good foundation to build from.

    • Hi Barbara,

      Thank you for your kind words and your reply. I appreciate hearing from you. Yes, as part of our Faith, we definitely believe that health is also a basic human right.

      Please feel free to contact me for more information about the Faith from a personal perspective. Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

      Karla
      Loyola, MA-PCSPC Class of 2012

  2. Thanks Karla, for an informative article. I first heard about the Bahai faith as the backdrop for something else I was reading, and I never took the time to investigate. This article and the links that you provide will allow me the opportunity to learn more. So grateful that our program provides the chance to explore different cultures and religions.

    • Thanks Glenda! I appreciate your feedback. I am grateful that Loyola provided a laboratory for me to share the Teachings of Baha’u'llah with the PC family. I am glad to provide the links for future investigation and feel free to contact me also with your questions. P&L, Karla

  3. Karla you exemplify your beliefs in all that you do. Teaching us the roots of your gracious spirit allows all who know you to share the wisdom that guides your daily life. Thank you, for as each of take the moment to share our truths, the wisdom of our understanding lends its self to the much needed unity on this planet.

    • Thanks Randee for your thoughts and reflections. I appreciate your comments. We’ve got to reunite again soon. You are correct, that we must do our best to exemplify our sources of inspiration. Thank you once again and have a blessed rest of your day!

      Karla

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