Written By: Aidan Forshaw
Baha’i is a religion based on the concept of ‘Unity’. It displays this through three manners. The first, is through the ‘Unity of God’, or the thought that there is only one God, who created everything at once, which is still unfolding. The second, it though the ‘Unity of religion’ or the fact that all religions have the Same True God no matter what he/she/it is called. The final concept, is through the ‘Unity of Humanity’, in which we are all equal as people, regardless of matters such as race, or area. In their view, the act of learning and experiencing the world brings one closer to God, through both experiencing the joy and sorrows he has created, allowing for a better person to be made. Yes, for a primarily Arabic religion, it has a very forgiving and inclusive attitude to other people and religions, an uncommon trait for that area unfortunately.
The religion itself was started by Bahá'u'lláh after being exiled from Persia to the Ottoman Empire, where he died as a prisoner. However, during his transport to the Ottoman Empire, he spread as much of his religion as he could, and managed to pass on the leadership of the religion to his son, `Abdu'l-Bahá. After the Son’s reign, the spiritual leader position was taken away from the family line system, and instead became a council of elected and appointed representatives from their respective churches. This lead to them viewing certain Saints and other such ‘holy’ men as prophets or messiah like figures for the church to follow until the next generation of religion occurred.
Now, this religion is interesting because it actually shares its religious figures from other religions. These figures consist of Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna, and Buddha among others. You see, following their advice, the members were supposed to receive ‘divine guidance’ in the form of an event happening or certain characteristics of people appearing, leading to either changes in location for the church, or actions for the church to take. In their belief, each messenger that comes gives word or motion to the next messenger, allowing for a continuous action of the church, and is supposed to mimic the ‘evolution’ that a human goes through. In other words, they wish to maintain an ever changing church, while staying to their core guidelines. The final goal of the Baha’i is to have all of humanity ‘Unite’ at the end of days, and be carried into Heaven together.
A summary was created by Shoghi Effendi, an appointed head of religion from 1921 to 1957, to show just what the religion entailed, and how it is embraced by man:
The independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition; the oneness of the entire human race, the pivotal principle and fundamental doctrine of the Faith; the basic unity of all religions; the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class or national; the harmony which must exist between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of human kind is able to soar; the introduction of compulsory education; the adoption of a universal auxiliary language; the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty; the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations; the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship; the glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations; and the establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal of all mankind—these stand out as the essential elements [which Bahá'u'lláh proclaimed]
So, while it has many similarities to a classic Christian religion, it has a remarkably open view on near everything that has to do with religion, and outside people. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that is one of THE most open religions in the world.