I asked ChatGPT to summarize some of the beliefs of the Bahá’í Faith. It did well.
Some other teachings of the Baha’i Faith are:
The unity of God, which means that there is only one God who is the source of all creation. Baha’is believe that God is unknowable in his essence, but he reveals his will and attributes through his messengers.
The unity of religion, which means that all the major religions of the world are divine in origin and share a common purpose. Baha’is believe that God sends different messengers to different peoples and times, according to their needs and capacities. These messengers include Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, the Bab, and Baha’u’llah.
The unity of humanity, which means that all human beings are created equal and belong to one family. Baha’is believe that all forms of prejudice, such as racism, sexism, nationalism, and classism, are contrary to the will of God and must be eliminated. Baha’is also strive to promote justice, peace, and harmony among all people.
The harmony of science and religion, which means that both are essential for the advancement of civilization and the discovery of truth. Baha’is believe that science and religion are complementary and not contradictory, and that they should work together to solve the problems of humanity and the environment.
The equality of men and women, which means that both genders have equal rights and responsibilities, and that they should cooperate and complement each other in all spheres of life. Baha’is believe that the empowerment of women is essential for the progress of society and the establishment of world peace.
The universal education, which means that every person has the right and duty to acquire knowledge and skills that will enable them to contribute to the well-being of themselves and others. Baha’is believe that education should be moral, spiritual, and material, and that it should foster the development of the individual and the collective.
The world federation, which means that the nations of the world should unite under a common government that will ensure the security, prosperity, and justice of all people. Baha’is believe that the current state of the world is unsustainable and that a new world order is needed to prevent war, poverty, and oppression.
This quote from Abdu’l-Baha brings up an important aspect that has seemed to have left modern society, let’s bring this back. Let’s think for ourselves please.
God has not intended man to imitate blindly his fathers and ancestors. He has endowed him with mind, or the faculty of reasoning, by the exercise of which he is to investigate and discover the truth, and that which he finds real and true he must accept. He must not be an imitator or blind follower of any soul. He must not rely implicitly upon the opinion of any man without investigation; nay, each soul must seek intelligently and independently, arriving at a real conclusion and bound only by that reality.
– Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace
I joined the Baha’i Faith in 2010. After a childhood growing up Catholic, my stint in high school as a proclaimed atheist, to a seeker after my time in the army, finally finding and falling in love with the Baha’i Faith. As I now read the history of the faith and its writings, I think back to being a soldier.
On March 20th, 2003, I crossed over the border from Kuwait to Iraq for the first time. I was a ball of fear, excitement, and wonder all rolled up in one. I spent most of the first few days in the back of a Bradley fighting vehicle. I remember seeing a sign telling us that we were atop Babylon, which all I could see was sand and some old brick walls scattered about in the region. With the occasional view of MLRS rocket systems sending volleys and feeling sorry for those on the receiving end. Other than knowing the name Babylon, it held no significance to me on that day.
One of the subsequent significant events I remember from the invasion is doing a feint to make the enemy think we would cross a particular bridge over the Euphrates. Of course, there was quite a lot happening there, and at no time did I put too much thought into the river’s name. But I remember artillery hitting buildings, lots of gunfire, and having my first opportunity to engage the enemy. That day is very much ingrained in my mind.
I saw the Tigris river for the first time a couple of days later. I didn’t give it too much thought beyond recognizing the name from various holy writings of the many faiths. I must have crossed that river a dozen times after that. It sat in my memory banks as that place I’ve heard of in the Bible, but the history never came to mind.
I then left Iraq to return yet again, not long after. I was wounded ten miles from the Tigris as I and many others fought for their lives on the bloodiest day I had ever witnessed. Again I used lethal force against other men.
Now all these years later, I sit and read holy writings and see Babylon, Euphrates, and Tigris repeated all the time. Bah’u’llah, the figurehead of the Baha’i Faith Himself, was exiled to Bahgdad and declared his message in the Ridvan garden along the Tigris river; I was wounded around six miles from that holy and historic location. Let alone, after some investigation, I discovered I was less than two miles from His home in Bahgdad, which was destroyed in 2013; I could of, or may have even seen it, chances are pretty high for that matter. I have pictures of buildings not far from its historical location.
Now that I am a Baha’i, I cannot help but think of these facts as somewhat mystical coincidences. I did more praying in Iraq than I had in the previous decade. Was I spared in battle to later become a member of the Baha’i faith? Is there some link that I won’t ever know until I move on to the next world? It’s exciting to dwell on. The entire idea I was so close to something I believe so strongly in now but had no clue then fascinates me.
Did my fighting in Iraq in consequently have any effect on my being in the Baha’i faith today? I have to wonder.
This photo shows the building I lived in for some time in relation to Karkh which is the area Baha’u’llah’s home was located