Bahai beliefs on non-bahais, unity, conversions

Jul 2009
5
USA
#1
Hi :)
I am trying to understand more about the bahai faith, and had a couple of questions. Firstly, I must say that I am a great admirer of the faith, and the bahai world view. But there are some questions that trouble me:

1. If God sent down Bahaullah as the most recent manifestation for humankind, then what does God make of those who seek Him through Christ, Mohammed, etc ? Does God accept the prayers of those who don't accept Bahaullah ?

2. What is the Bahai concept of unity of Mankind ? Is it that the whole world must be Bahai, and then we achieve unity ? Or is it that the whole world practices their own faith, but are united in progressing mankind ?

3. I have often heard from my Bahai friends that they don't seek to convert anybody, yet I have seen very organized drives to 'teach the faith', and have myself been offered to sign a declaration card. That practice pretty much screams 'conversion' and is no different from other faiths. Isn't this a case of old wine in a new bottle ?

I hope no one is offended by these questions - thx :)
 
Jul 2009
6
USA
#2
Dear gte692h,
I think you have posted good, thoughtful questions. I hope to address your questions with my understanding of the Baha'i Writings in response to them.

1. Given that God sends a Divine Spirit to earth from Age to Age who brings a Holy Book from God to help mankind develop to a new spiritual level means that each of these Divine Teachers are good, and valid, and helpful to mankind. These Divine Teachers (Moses, Buddha, Abraham, Zoroaster, Krishna, Jesus, Mohammed, the Bab, and Baha'u'llah) come from the same Spirit. Their purpose is to 'renew' religion on the face of the planet, not to be in competition with each other. If a person is a believer of one of these prophets and follows His Teachings with his heart and soul, God most certainly accepts that person. His prayers will be assuredly accepted. Consider if you solve a math problem using basic arithmetic and someone else solves the same problem using advanced mathematical skills, both answers can be correct; even though the way of solving the problem may have taken a different path. Both are good; both are acceptable.

2. When humanity reaches a point where prejudices are no longer held in the hearts of man so that people regard each other as their brothers and sisters, then the concept of unity will have encircled the hearts of men. Prejudices are a means of establishing an 'us' and 'them' mentality. Prejudices can come in many forms and we must work on overcoming those limited thoughts in each of our lives. As we do so, we'll come to realize there is no 'them,' there's only 'us.' What outward form that ends up taking...be it all of humanity is Baha'i or there is diversity of religious beliefs on the planet is not so important. What's important is the recognition of the oneness of mankind and that we are all children of God.

3. It is true that no Baha'i can 'convert' another person as that is a private relationship between a soul and God. Only the soul knows when his or her heart has accepted this new Revelation from God; and no other person can or should force another soul. Being offered an enrollment card is something a friend of yours might have done to determine where your heart was at at that moment. You and God are in charge of your own conversion. Baha'is are told of the necessity to 'teach the Faith' because we have the healing message for humanity and the future holds many moments of purification ahead; thus, the sense of urgency.

I hope you find these responses helpful.
Sincerely yours, janesaun
 
Jul 2009
5
USA
#4
Hi Janesaun :) thanks for the wonderful answers. I think they reflect a very grounded level of spirituality and are very helpful. Couple of follow thru questions :)

- With regards to you answer in #1, I agree that the 'basic' and 'advanced' approach to solving a problem are both viable and acceptable. But I have heard that same analogy used as a means of saying 'why would you want to stick with the basic approach when you have the advanced approach available' ? ie, the impression I got was the Bahai faith was somehow superior to other faiths. While I realise that might not be your view, would you be able to address that question ? Are your views reflective of a majority opinion ? Are there differing views on this topic ?

Once again, thanks for your answers. (understand that you can't spk for others than yourself)
 
Jul 2009
6
USA
#5
Dear gte692h,
I'm glad that you read my post and found the information helpful.

You are right...I can't speak for all Baha'is because each soul is on his own journey and has acquired whatever amount of learning he or she has through that lifetime. However, we all have access to the Sacred Writings and it is to them to we must turn for guidance rather than resting on our own opinions. After all, the Sacred Writings are God's guidance to our civilization for this Age and for our progress.

You ask very probing and pertinent questions...they make me reflect and think. I hope I didn't convey to you that by using an 'advanced' methodology to solve a problem that that somehow made it 'superior'. By the same token, God has sent these Divine Teachers from Age to Age to help mankind carry on an ever-advancing civilization. If He felt that what we needed now was a message from the past, then He wouldn't have sent a new Messenger to help humanity through this next step in its evolution. So...does that make it 'superior'? Or does that make it 'needed'? Here are a couple of quotations that may shed some light on this topic.

"Know thou assuredly that the essence of all the Prophets of God is one and the same. Their unity is absolute. God, the Creator, saith: There is no distinction whatsoever among the Bearers of My Message. They all have but one purpose; their secret is the same secret. To prefer one in honor to another, to exalt certain ones above the rest, is in no wise to be permitted. Every true Prophet hath regarded His Message as fundamentally the same as the Revelation of every other Prophet gone before Him. If any man, therefore, should fail to comprehend this truth, and should consequently indulge in vain and unseemly language, no one whose sight is keen and whose understanding is enlightened would ever allow such idle talk to cause him to waver in his belief." Selections from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 18

Additionally, we have been told "The purpose underlying all creation is the revelation of this most sublime, this most holy Day, the Day known as the Day of God, in His Books and Scriptures--the Day which all the Prophets, and the Chosen Ones, and the holy ones, have wished to witness." Selections from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 3

So as Baha'is we appreciate the mercy of God that has been showered over mankind in this Day. We can marvel at all of the advances that mankind has been able to make since the spiritual energy from this Revelation has been released on the planet. In the Old Testament, Habbabkuk refers to this Day: 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. This about how knowledge and sciences have expanded at exponential rates since the inception of this Faith in 1844...Is it not like the waters covering the sea?

Baha'is can enjoy and peruse the Sacred Writings of all of God's manifestations. We don't need to limit our scope of enlightenment to one Holy Book, or two, we can immerse our souls into all of them. Another analogy...it's as if we can go to a feast and enjoy the whole banquet rather than be relegated to the salad table only. Does that make it 'superior'? Or is it what humanity needs in this Age to deal with the complex remedies that are required to solve the problems of this Age?

I hope this response is helpful to you in your query.

Sincerely,
janesaun
 
Jul 2009
6
USA
#7
You're welcome, gte692h. I hope you found the answers to be satisfactory. If you have any other points you'd like to discuss, please feel free to post them. Since I will be traveling for a few days, there may be some delay in responding; so please be patient.
Best regards, janesaun
 

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