Ok, as requested here is the Baha'i Thread!
Website for those interested:
The Baha'i Faith
Sorry if this is long, it isn't meant to be, I am just useless at summarising and saying things more succinctly! Please feel free to ask whatever you are interested in understanding about the Faith, and I will try to answer as well as I can! If anyone knows how to import accents above the letters can you tell me, as I really need them when talking about my Faith as they are used a lot! As a starting point I will begin with questions requested in the "What religions are you curious about?" thread.
What are the basic beliefs of the religion?
As a place to start here are some of the core principals/beliefs:
-One God, from which all the major religions came.
-Unity/harmony between religions.
-Equality of women and men.
-Elimination of all forms of predjudice (eg racial, gender etc).
-Independent investigation of truth (eg not blindly following anything.)
-The harmony of science and religion.
-Elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth.
-Service to humanity.
-All of humanity is one family, loving all of humanity.
-Working towards global peace and unity.
Baha'i's believe in the concept of progressive revelation. This means that God sends us a Manifestation relevant to the age and world conditions at the time. Therefore Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna, Moses etc, are all Manifestations of God for their respective times, all loved and respected by Baha'i's. Baha'i's believe the Manifestation of God for this age has come (Baha'u'llah) and we follow his teachings, primarily his message is one of bringing about global peace and unity. I can happily talk more about Him as we go along if you have any questions.
What sort of weekly routine do you have that involves you in the religion? Church, meetings? Private worship, study etc?
There is no church and no clergy in the Faith. We democratically elect local and national Spiritual Assemblies who care for the administrative needs of the community as well as often being excellent teachers of the Faith respected for their service and knowledge. Nothing is compulsory when it comes to attendance but somethings are encouraged that you attend if you can (eg Feasts.)
We have a lot of things Baha'i's can attend (non-Baha'i's are also very welcome as well). There are Devotionals held each week at someones home, where we listen to music, and readings from the Faith as well as other religions. This is a really relaxed atmosphere, very refreshing. Non- Baha'i's are very welcome to attend. After the Devotional there is pretty much always food and socialising!
Firesides: These are often held weekly at someone's home, where Baha'i's and especially non-Baha'i's can come listen to readings or ask questions, discuss, get information and just have a nice social time.
We also have study circles where you go through work books on the Faith in a small groups, this is great for new Baha'i's as well as interested non-Baha'i's.
One of the key features of Baha'i life are the 19 Day Feasts. The Baha'i calendar is divided into 19 months with 19 days each (and 4-5 intercalary days at the end of Feb). Each month is named after an attribute of God, and the start of the month marked with a Feast. Feasts involve a Devotional, some administrative discussion, and time for food and socialing at the end. This is one of the few things non-Baha'i's cannot attend, due to the administrative aspect that is not of much use to non-Baha'i's. That said, if one was to arrive, they would be warmly welcomed, and we would just leave out the admin part so as not to offend the visitor.
There are also 9 Holy Days and other celebratory days I can talk about more if anyone wants to know.
Do you have any particular guidelines for living, eg regarding diet/lifestyle?
We have a few obligations, but not many. Daily obligatory prayer is one, where we choose from one of 3 prayers to recite each day, you can choose whichever you like, the shortest of which is 3 lines long and said only once a day. There is a medium prayer said 3 times a day, or a long one said once a day. We wash face and hands before praying.
We read from the writings morning and night as well, this could be anything from one line or many pages, whatever you feel like at the time, or whatever passage you feel like meditating on however you choose to do that.
Fasting: This is in March, for 19 days we abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. There are a lot of exemptions from this, eg illness, pregnancy, breastfeeding, elderly people, and those under 15.
Alcohol and drugs are prohibited at all times. This was a HUGE test to me on the alcohol front and I delayed officially being recorded as a Baha'i for a long time due to being so socialised to drink it I struggled to give it up! Anyone can be involved in the Baha'i community to whatever extent they like for as long as they like and will never feel pressured to officially be recorded as a Baha'i. You declare when you are ready, however long that takes.
No dietary restrictions, but a healthy diet is encouraged.
That will do for now, otherwise it will get too long! Other things you might like to hear about are Holy Days (eg what do we celebrate, observe and when), the history of the Faith, more on Baha'u'llah, more on my involvement, how I came to be one, how someone becomes a Baha'i, Do we have Baptism etc. Whatever you like! Hope this was useful so far!