Bahá’ís of Mangaung join the Bahá’í communities all around the world to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the birth of their Faith on May 24. Joyous multicultural celebrations include prayers and reading from the Holy Writings, music and fellowship.
The Bahá’í Faith began with the mission entrusted by God to two Divine Messengers – the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. In the middle of the 19th century, The Báb announced that He was the bearer of a message destined to transform humanity’s spiritual life. His primary mission was to prepare the way for the coming of Bahá’u’lláh, who would usher in an age of peace and justice.
Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb, as in the case of the other Messengers of God, were the direct recipients of Revelation from God. Revelation, in the Bahá’í view, is the infallible and direct conveyance of God’s creative Word that is accessible only to the Messengers of God who transmit it to mankind. This innate, divinely revealed knowledge enables them to establish laws and teachings that correspond to human needs and conditions at a given time in history.
Bahá’u’lláh outlined a framework for the reconstruction of human society at all levels. His writings cover a vast range of subjects from social issues such as the oneness of humanity, racial integration, the equality of men and women, and disarmament – to those questions that affect the innermost life of the human soul.
The Bahá’í Faith was first introduced to South Africa in 1911. Its national governing body, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of South Africa, was formed in 1956. The South African, as well as the worldwide Baha’i community are composed of people from virtually every racial, ethnic and religious background.
Globally, the Bahá’í Faith, with followers in at least 233 countries and dependent territories has become the second-most widespread Faith in its geographic reach and is among the fastest growing world religions.
The teachings of the Bahá’í Faith offer spiritual guidance as well as directives for personal and social conduct. They are designed to reshape the divisive society of the present world and usher in an era of universal peace.
The conviction that we all belong to one human family is at the heart of the Bahá’í Faith. The principle of the oneness of humankind is “the pivot round which the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revolve…”
The belief in oneness of humanity does not imply uniformity. Rather, the Bahá’í Writings affirm the principle of unity in diversity. More than the mere tolerance of differences or celebration of superficial aspects of diverse cultures, the diversity of the human family, Bahá’ís believe, should be the cause of abiding love and harmony, “as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord.”
In the Bahá’í view, civilization has evolved to the point where unity of mankind has become of paramount necessity. Humanity, having passed through the ages of infancy and childhood, now stands at the threshold of its collective maturity, the hallmark of which will be the unification of the human race in a global civilization. The emergence of this civilization, prosperous in both its spiritual and material dimensions, implies that the spiritual and practical aspects of life are to advance harmoniously together.
The teachings of the Bahá’í Faith also address such essential themes as oneness of all major world religions, the inherent nobility of the human beings, the progressive revelation of religious truth, the development of spiritual qualities, the integration of worship and service, the equality of men and women, the harmony between religion and science, the centrality of justice to all human endeavours, the importance of education, and the dynamics of the relationships that are to bind together individuals, communities, and institutions as humanity advances towards its collective maturity.
An important concept in the Bahá’í teachings is that refinement of one’s inner character and service to humanity should go hand in hand. For example, Bahá’ís are not only expected to pray and reflect daily in their personal lives, but also to make effort to bring a devotional spirit to their surroundings. They are not only asked to deepen their own knowledge of the Faith, but to share this knowledge also with others. Bahá’u’lláh regards the ‘love of mankind’ and service to its interests as the worthiest and most laudable objects of human endeavour”.
Bahá’ís try to refine their inner-lives in accordance with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, while sharing a common goal of serving humanity. Their community is one of learning and action, free from any sense of superiority or claim to exclusive understanding of truth. It is a community that strives to cultivate hope for the future of humanity, to foster purposeful effort, and to celebrate the endeavours of all those in the world who work to promote unity and alleviate human suffering.
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