Is the Obligatory Prayer a daily ritual? Let's talk about it

Jan 2011
94
Detroit, MI USA
#11
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.
 
Jun 2014
1,044
Wisconsin
#12
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.
 
Jun 2018
27
USA
#13
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.
 
Sep 2012
306
Panama
#14
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)
 
Mar 2013
520
_
#15
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
 
Jun 2014
1,044
Wisconsin
#16
(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:
Nov 2015
144
Canada
#17
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:
Jun 2014
1,044
Wisconsin
#18
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.
 
Jul 2018
62
Tarshish, bound for Nineveh
#19
We do have rituals in the faith, but perhaps not so many and with a different emphasis on them. I personally find our rituals very important for my spiritual life. However, I have heard some say we have no rituals and others say we have only divine rituals (as opposed to man-made ones). I know that some from certain protestant faiths are very sensitive to any notion of "rituals" as are some who come from secular, or atheistic backgrounds. However, the rituals we have are very few and very simple, and, if anyone is interested in looking at the studies of such practices (such as the work of A Newberg) you can find out that there is considerable evidence that such things are healthy and beneficial. I also comment to you K. Armstrong's The Case for God, which explores the history of human worship and ritual in a way that is illuminating and shows that there is actually a lot more to it than one might have originally believed. Any way, here is some official guidance on the matter taken from Lights of Guidance. It is a from a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to Bolivia, and contains relevant citations within it concerning rituals in the faith.

1573. There is a Minimum of Rituals in the Bahá’í Faith and no Man-Made Dogmas
"In response to your letter of 3rd September 1979 asking if there are dogmas and rites in the Bahá’í Faith, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to convey its reply.

"A dogma is a principle, tenet or teaching, especially an authoritative teaching, and in these senses it is apparent that the Faith has 'dogmas'. The word is also used, however, to describe that body of rigid doctrines that have accumulated in a religion after the passing of its Founder; such man-made dogmas are entirely absent from the Bahá’í Faith, nor can it ever acquire them.

"Concerning rituals, the beloved Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf to an individual believer on 24th June 1949:

'Bahá’u’lláh has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in His Faith. The few forms that there are—like those associated with the two longer obligatory daily prayers—are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them and a great blessing, but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things; that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two.'

"Thus it can be seen that the Faith has certain simple rites prescribed by Bahá’u’lláh, such as the obligatory prayers, the marriage ceremony and the laws for the burial of the dead, but its teachings warn against developing them into a system of uniform and rigid rituals incorporating man-made forms and practices, such as exist in other religions where rituals usually consist of elaborate ceremonial practices performed by a member of the clergy. In another letter written on behalf of the Guardian his secretary stated:

'In these days the friends should, as much as possible, demonstrate through their deeds the independence of the Holy Faith of God, and its freedom from the customs, rituals and practices of a discredited and abrogated past.'

(Translated from the Persian).
"In freeing the believers from the religious rituals of the past and from those customs which are contrary to Bahá’í principles, the institutions of the Faith should be careful not to press the friends to arbitrarily discard those local traditions which are harmless and often colourful characteristics of particular peoples and tribes. In 'The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh', on page 41, we read:

'Let there be no misgivings as to the animating purpose of the world-wide Law of Bahá’u’lláh. Far from aiming at the subversion of the existing foundations of society, it seeks to broaden its basis, to remold its institutions in a manner consonant with the needs of an ever-changing world. It can conflict with no legitimate allegiances, nor can it undermine essential loyalties. Its purpose is neither to stifle the flame of a sane and intelligent patriotism in men's hearts, nor to abolish the system of national autonomy so essential if the evils of excessive centralization are to be avoided. It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world….'"

(From a letter written of behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, October 16, 1979)


Cheers
 
Apr 2013
166
Dorset , UK
#20
I think you shouldn't pray Daily cause we are save by Faith alone "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, 9 not by works, so that no one can boast " (Ephesians 2:8-9), read this "free thought" bahai blog to know more - https://nazarethanbahaifaith.wordpress.com

Rituals of prayer Daily is sensless
 
Last edited:

Similar threads