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Old 07-03-2018, 11:05 AM   #1
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Is the Obligatory Prayer a daily ritual? Let's talk about it

Is the Obligatory Prayer a daily ritual? We say there's no ritual in this faith but I was wondering because we do have to do the daily physical ablutions.

What are your thoughts?
 
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Old 07-03-2018, 01:23 PM   #2
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by od19g6be View Post
Is the Obligatory Prayer a daily ritual? We say there's no ritual in this faith but I was wondering because we do have to do the daily physical ablutions.

What are your thoughts?
I would offer that there is little ritual in the Baha'i Faith, but we do have obligations which are ritual, like Fasting and Obligatory Prayer. Observance of 19 day Feasts and Holy Days can be seen as ritual observances but have an agenda that can be varied according to how the community wishes to hold them.

Regards Tony
 
Old 07-03-2018, 10:58 PM   #3
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I definitely agree with Tony - we have divinely ordained rituals which are very simple (my guess would be that they are this way so that they can be applied to any culture in the world and still work) - obligatory prayer, or the fast, as Tony cited as examples. So yes, the faith has rituals, but very minimal ones.
 
Old 07-04-2018, 01:58 AM   #4
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Dear od19g6be,

I think we have to differentiate between man-made rituals which evolve over time and those which are clearly prescribed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by the Universal House of Justice
It is not accurate to state that the Bahá'í Faith has no ceremonies. The marriage ceremony and the funeral service are examples of such observances in our teachings.

It would be correct, however, to state that the Faith has certain basic laws and simple rites prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh and that its teachings warn against developing these into a system of uniform and rigid rituals by introducing into them man-made forms and practices. Rituals in other religions usually consist of elaborate ceremonial practices, such as those of the Catholic Church in the celebration of the Mass and the administration of the sacraments, which are performed by a member of the clergy.

In carrying out the basic laws of our Faith the friends should always maintain a standard of utmost simplicity and observe flexibility in all matters of detail.(August 31, 1967)
 
Old 07-04-2018, 05:26 AM   #5
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Dear od19g6be,

I think we have to differentiate between man-made rituals which evolve over time and those which are clearly prescribed.
There is a difference between ritual and prayer. Rituals are acts that are performed which may be symbolic but their function is unknown. Prayers are communicating with God, and every step including ablutions have that purpose.
 
Old 07-04-2018, 09:53 AM   #6
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"Ritual - A religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order." - A rituals function can be completely known and still be a ritual, or entirely unknown and still be a ritual. I would definitely say the obligatory prayer is a ritual, just one that is divinely ordained as opposed to man made, in that the action performed is a daily prayer and that it is prescribed by God.

Last edited by Saveyist; 07-04-2018 at 09:59 AM.
 
Old 07-04-2018, 09:39 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by tonyfish58 View Post
I would offer that there is little ritual in the Baha'i Faith, but we do have obligations which are ritual, like Fasting and Obligatory Prayer. Observance of 19 day Feasts and Holy Days can be seen as ritual observances but have an agenda that can be varied according to how the community wishes to hold them.

Regards Tony
thanks for your response.
 
Old 07-04-2018, 09:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoerenRekelBludau View Post
Dear od19g6be,

I think we have to differentiate between man-made rituals which evolve over time and those which are clearly prescribed.
thanks for your response.
 
Old 07-04-2018, 09:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saveyist View Post
"Ritual - A religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order." - A rituals function can be completely known and still be a ritual, or entirely unknown and still be a ritual. I would definitely say the obligatory prayer is a ritual, just one that is divinely ordained as opposed to man made, in that the action performed is a daily prayer and that it is prescribed by God.
thanks for your response.
 
Old 07-04-2018, 09:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcc View Post
There is a difference between ritual and prayer. Rituals are acts that are performed which may be symbolic but their function is unknown. Prayers are communicating with God, and every step including ablutions have that purpose.
thanks for your response.
 
Old 07-04-2018, 09:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saveyist View Post
I definitely agree with Tony - we have divinely ordained rituals which are very simple (my guess would be that they are this way so that they can be applied to any culture in the world and still work) - obligatory prayer, or the fast, as Tony cited as examples. So yes, the faith has rituals, but very minimal ones.
thanks for your response.
 
Old 07-05-2018, 07:12 AM   #12
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I think ritual is a valuable tool.

If you accompany bringing yourself into a spiritual mindset with a certain set of actions, it can help you attain that spiritual state more easily. Like training the "muscle memory" of your spirit.

The problem with ritual is then when the focus shifts from God and to the ritual itself, when people go through the motions as habit and loose sight of the spiritual meaning of the act.

Baptism is a prime example of that. There's great value in baptism as a ritual through the messages of redemption, cleansing, and rebirth. However a baby who is too young to even remember that ritual much less understand what it means gains absolutely nothing from the experience.

So the ritual's value is lost, and it becomes a hollow practice repeated with little actual meaning.

For this reason rituals need to be changed. If people get too comfortable doing a thing until its lost its meaning, that thing needs to be changed to refocus their minds on the meaning.

This is one of the reasons Muhammad states in the Quran that he changed the direction of prayer. To those who were too attached to the physical direction of the ritual and had lost sight of the meaning of that ritual, they thought Muhammad's change was blasphemous and turned away. To those who saw the true purpose of that ritual and symbol, they did not see a significant change in the changing of direction.

We can probably infer that this is why the Bab later changed the direction yet again. The ritual of praying in one direction as a sign of unity is valuable, but if we loose sight of why we are doing it, it looses that value. Thus every thousand years or so God tells us to orient ourselves to a different location to bring life back into the dead ritual and to challenge those who are more attached to the ritual than they are attached to God.
 
Old 07-07-2018, 08:17 AM   #13
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Yes, according to this it is ritual; Wikipedia,

A ritual "is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence".[1] Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. Rituals are characterized but not defined by formalism, traditionalism, invariance, rule-governance, sacral symbolism, and performance.[2]

Rituals are a feature of all known human societies.[3] They include not only the worship rites and sacraments of organized religions and cults, but also rites of passage, atonement and purification rites, oaths of allegiance, dedication ceremonies, coronations and presidential inaugurations, marriages and funerals, school "rush" traditions and graduations, club meetings, sporting events, Halloween parties, veterans parades, Christmas shopping and more. Many activities that are ostensibly performed for concrete purposes, such as jury trials, execution of criminals, and scientific symposia,[citation needed] are loaded with purely symbolic actions prescribed by regulations or tradition, and thus partly ritualistic in nature. Even common actions like hand-shaking and saying "hello" may be termed rituals.

The field of ritual studies has seen a number of conflicting definitions of the term. One given by Kyriakidis is that a ritual is an outsider's or "etic" category for a set activity (or set of actions) that, to the outsider, seems irrational, non-contiguous, or illogical. The term can be used also by the insider or "emic" performer as an acknowledgement that this activity can be seen as such by the uninitiated onlooker.[4]

In psychology, the term ritual is sometimes used in a technical sense for a repetitive behavior systematically used by a person to neutralize or prevent anxiety; it is a symptom of obsessive–compulsive disorder.
 
Old 07-09-2018, 05:50 AM   #14
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A ritual "is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence"...
We may not want to say that this is the kind of 'ritual' we get revealed this age. The obligatory prayers can vary from day to day --depending on which of the three we choose, whether we sing it one time and whisper it the next. If we define 'ritual' as anything we do regularly, then we'd have to say breathing, eating and sleeping are rituals.

True, fasting and daily prayers can sure seem like rituals but--
There is no prescribed way for the recital of the many other Bahá'í prayers, and the friends are free to use them in gatherings or individually as they please, "But," as the Guardian explains, "although the friends are thus left free to follow their own inclination, . . . they should take the utmost care that any manner they practise should not acquire too rigid a character, and thus develop into an institution.

(Baha'u'llah, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 57)
--and Abdu'l-Baha said:
Ritual holds no place in the religion, which must be expressed in all the actions of life, and accomplished in neighborly love. Every one must have an occupation. The education of children is enjoined and regulated.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v3)
 
Old 07-09-2018, 09:19 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by od19g6be View Post
Is the Obligatory Prayer a daily ritual? We say there's no ritual in this faith but I was wondering because we do have to do the daily physical ablutions.

What are your thoughts?
not a ritual per se, though i suppose the 95 repetitions could be considered so.
it's a prayer. I consider it checking in with the Boss
 
Old 07-09-2018, 09:42 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Pete in Panama View Post
(Baha'u'llah, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 57)
[/FONT][/INDENT][/INDENT]--and Abdu'l-Baha said:
Ritual holds no place in the religion, which must be expressed in all the actions of life, and accomplished in neighborly love. Every one must have an occupation. The education of children is enjoined and regulated.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v3)
Hey Pete.

That's not a quote from 'Abdu'l-Baha.

It turns out that's a translation of a quote from a French encyclopedia's description of the faith, which included in the introduction section of a volume of 'Abdu'l-Baha's writings (which is probably where the idea that that quote comes from 'Abdu'l-Baha comes from, since it is part of the book "Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha" but is part of the book that is not his writings).

Specifically this statement that there is "no ritual" in the Faith comes from the Encyclopaedia of Larousse.

Last edited by Walrus; 07-09-2018 at 10:01 AM.
 
Old 07-09-2018, 09:52 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete in Panama View Post
We may not want to say that this is the kind of 'ritual' we get revealed this age. The obligatory prayers can vary from day to day --depending on which of the three we choose, whether we sing it one time and whisper it the next. If we define 'ritual' as anything we do regularly, then we'd have to say breathing, eating and sleeping are rituals.

True, fasting and daily prayers can sure seem like rituals but--
There is no prescribed way for the recital of the many other Bahá'í prayers, and the friends are free to use them in gatherings or individually as they please, "But," as the Guardian explains, "although the friends are thus left free to follow their own inclination, . . . they should take the utmost care that any manner they practise should not acquire too rigid a character, and thus develop into an institution.

(Baha'u'llah, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 57)
--and Abdu'l-Baha said:
Ritual holds no place in the religion, which must be expressed in all the actions of life, and accomplished in neighborly love. Every one must have an occupation. The education of children is enjoined and regulated.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v3)
But the daily obligatory prayer, while very flexible indeed, completely fits the definition of a ritual, as it's an action that has been prescribed - Prayer alone is not a ritual, but a daily prayer is something that God has prescribed for this era. When it's made into a daily (though flexible) act that has been ordered, it is a ritual prayer - One that is very beneficial. The same is true for the repetition of Allah-u-Abha, and fasting in the month of 'Ala - they are all actions that have been prescribed by God, fitting the exact definition of a ritual.

To say that the faith has no rituals seems dishonest to me (In general, not that you have claimed this). We have beneficial, flexible rituals, and we have very few rituals overall compared to other definitions. The fact that we have options as to how to do them does not change the fact that it still fits the definition of a ritual.

Last edited by Saveyist; 07-09-2018 at 09:57 AM.
 
Old 07-09-2018, 09:59 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Saveyist View Post
But the daily obligatory prayer, while very flexible indeed, completely fits the definition of a ritual, as it's an action that has been prescribed - Prayer alone is not a ritual, but a daily prayer is something that God has prescribed for this era. When it's made into a daily (though flexible) act that has been ordered, it is a ritual prayer - One that is very beneficial. The same is true for the repetition of Allah-u-Abha, and fasting in the month of 'Ala - they are all actions that have been prescribed by God, fitting the exact definition of a ritual.

To say that the faith has no rituals seems dishonest to me. We have beneficial, flexible rituals, and we have very few rituals overall compared to other definitions. The fact that we have options as to how to do them does not change the fact that it still fits the definition of a ritual.
Yeah, it's clearly a ritual by the definitions of that word. I don't agree with the characterization that we have "no ritual" provided by the French encyclopedia that is being misquoted here. Although it is possible that it is some sort of issue in translation. I wouldn't say it is "dishonest", but probably just "uninformed", given that it's not 'Abdu'l-Baha saying we have no ritual, but an outside organization writing a surface-level definition of our Faith.

It'd be correct to say we have no ritual for ritual's sake. It'd also be correct to say we have less emphasis on ritual than others. It'd also be correct to say our rituals tend to be more free-form than others. But it would not be right to say that we have no ritual whatsoever.
 
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