Not many people have heard of the Bahá’í religion. It is actually the youngest of the world’s major religions, and possibly one of the most unique. There are 6 million Bahá’í followers in the world.
One of the deepest questions of modern faith is how to reconcile the concept of one God (and strict adherence to one religious system) with a multicultural society. Christianity, Islam and other monotheistic systems all claim to have found the True Path, a stance which immediately makes other faiths the ‘Wrong Path.’ The Bahá’í religion, on the other hand, accepts all religions as true. How is that possible? Read on.
Baha’is was established in 1863 in Iran by Mirza Husayn Ali. He adapted the name Bahá’u’lláh (‘Glory of God’ in Arabic) and called himself The Báb.
According to The Báb, God reveals himself in different ways through different Divine Messengers. These include Jesus, Mohammed, Zoroaster, Buddha—the key figures in the world’s major religions. However, the messages were all interpreted within a particular cultural or historical context. That is just the way human minds work. We can never completely escape our finite perspective.
But God is infinite, bigger than we can describe. So while the religions all have valuable truths and have valid origins, and were the closest approximation or understanding of God for that time and place, they cannot be the one and only path. Instead, The Báb called for all religions to work together. There is a sense of ‘progressive revelation’ where each culture, and each religion, can help deepen our knowledge of God and bring us closer to truth. The key word is ‘closer’ – God is transcendent and can never be completely known, but it is the journey itself—discovering, learning, drawing closer—that transforms the follower.
That is why the Bahá’í religion is built on the concept of unity. There is one God, and there is one human race, and religion should bring people together rather than apart.
Other key beliefs of the Bahá’í relgion is that the soul is immortal, and that all races and genders are equal. Even faiths have similar spiritual truths (but with different names), and worship the all powerful God that created and guides the universe. The Bahá’í doesn’t believe that God ever became incarnate in a human being, but it does believe that the lives and teachings of the Holy Messengers are powerful ways of understanding God’s true nature.
Photo from jerseyshorebahai.org