Sharing the Baha'i Teachings
Bahá’u’lláh has stated that each Bahá’í has the duty to share the Faith with others but forbids the practice of proselytism. Thus, no pressure must be put on anyone to accept it, since independent investigation of truth is a fundamental right and responsibility of each individual.
A person becomes a Bahá’í by recognizing Bahá’u’lláh as the Messenger of God for this age and accepting to follow His laws and teachings and the administrative institutions He established for the unification of humankind. People enroll in a Bahá’í community by signifying such belief and commitment, orally or in writing, to the responsible Bahá'í institution.
Moral and Spiritual Education for the Next Generation
The Bahá’í writings attach great importance to the periods of childhood and youth, providing clear guidance to parents and communities to raise children in a nurturing and unambiguous environment.
Youth are encouraged to develop a strong sense of purpose, empowering their own transformation and leading them to contribute to the advancement of society. Young people’s spiritual capacity, the basis for their own happiness and sense of well-being, is a powerful force for social change.
Bahá'ís believe that moral, spiritual, and values-based training for children and youth is essential in order to nurture these capacities.
Thus, Bahá'í communities sponsor moral education classes for children and youth of all backgrounds. The classes seek to develop essential virtues such as the knowledge of God, trustworthiness, honesty, and justice. They aim to build a strong moral framework that will assist children to achieve excellence in material, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of life.
“Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value, Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.” - Bahá’u’lláh
In accordance with that inspiration, Bahá’ís are working to bring forth these “treasures”—the nobility and beauty that are part of every person’s inborn nature. The training they offer is a compelling response to the flood of messages that promote materialism and neglect the ideals of a healthy and prosperous society.
The classes, offered in increasing numbers by Bahá’í communities around the world, can help to ensure that our children grow strong intellectually, morally, and spiritually.
Devotional Gatherings for Inspiration and Renewal
Inspiration, rejuvenation, motivation, purpose, meaning—all are essential ingredients to one’s sense that his or her life is on track, is worth living.
Yet, day to day, one is hard-pressed to find or feel them and is challenged to maintain a positive, hopeful outlook.
The Word of God, say the Bahá'í writings, provides inspiration, rejuvenates souls, gladdens hearts, and renews one’s sense of purpose.
Thus, Bahá’ís host devotional gatherings in homes and community centers to take advantage of such benefits through prayer and the reading together of the Bahá'í writings and other scriptures and to create an environment of unity and harmony. Prayer is a central element in all religious traditions and these meetings stress its universal nature.
Prayer offers us an opportunity to commune with our Creator, draw on the revitalizing power of the Word of God, and to contemplate and more deeply appreciate our lives.
The meetings, often simple, have a variety of elements to accommodate participants regardless of their religious background. Music, food, and discussion are often present, though the primary purpose is to use prayer’s power to transform, unify, and revitalize.
For many, these gatherings become a refreshing refuge from the discordant and grinding aspects of everyday life. Participants are able to meditate on spiritual principles and gain some perspective on how these principles can be applied to their day-to-day affairs.
Collaborative Study for Individual and Social Transformation
At the heart of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh is the force of transformation, both of the individual and of society.
The transformation of the individual is not an isolated process, not ascetic nor centered wholly on one’s self-fulfillment.
In Bahá'í terms, the process of one’s individual development and fulfillment is tied to the centering of one’s energies on the betterment of humankind and serving the needs of the community and the larger society.
Prayer and meditation, fighting one’s spiritual battles, living according to spiritual laws and teachings—all are essential elements in fulfilling life’s purpose, but such efforts reach their fullest transformative effect when they are dedicated to service.
Thus, Bahá'ís are actively engaged in developing knowledge, skills, and spiritual insights that enable them to act as effective human resources and which are vital to the integrated process of personal and social transformation. Presently, such collective learning takes the form of study circles—a local, collaborative, self-directed learning process being undertaken by Bahá’í communities around the world. All are welcome in the classes, regardless of their ideas or beliefs.
By learning about our spiritual reality and our individual role in the progress of society, we can better understand our purpose in life and the way to improve our own lives and the lives of those around us.
Participants in the courses learn, for example, to teach values to children, to engage in community service activities, to assist and empower others to independently investigate spiritual truths, to learn how to competently express one’s views, and to engage oneself in serving the broader needs of society for unity, justice, and equity.
Participants in study circles often experience a new sense of direction in life, better relationships with family and friends, and a fruitful re-evaluation of the contribution one can make to the wider community.