As one of the world’s newest religions, the basic principles of the Baha’i faith are not widely known.

The teachings of Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder, are vast in their scope, exploring as they do such themes as the nature and purpose of revelation, the inherent nobility of the human being, the cultivation of spiritual qualities, the nature of the soul and life after death and humanity’s interactions with the natural world.

The Baha’i holy writings are also full of references to universal peace ― “the supreme goal of all mankind” ― as well as explanations of the social principles with which this peace is associated.

In addition to the three core beliefs about unity ― the oneness of God, the oneness of religion and the oneness of humanity ― the basic principles of the Baha’i faith are:

The independent investigation of truth: It is each person’s responsibility to pursue an unfettered search into the truth, not blindly believing or following others.

The elimination of all forms of prejudice: Prejudice of all kinds, whether religious, racial, ethnic, patriotic or political, is destructive to the foundation of a harmonious society.

The importance of universal education: Ignorance is one of the main reasons for the decline and fall of peoples and the perpetuation of prejudice. Education must be universal and compulsory, providing for every child.

The achievement of full equality of men and women: Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavor will we create the climate for international peace to emerge. The Baha’i scriptures refer to women and men as two wings of a bird that need to be equal to enable humanity to fly.

A spiritual solution to the economic problem: Baha’u’llah envisions a compassionate society where people are not demoralized by poverty or overburdened with wealth. While allowing that wealth can be used for good, Baha’u’llah cautions the rich about extremes saying: “The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.”

The essential harmony of science and religion: The teachings assert that science without religion leads to materialism, and religion without science leads to superstition, affirming that reasoning powers are required to understand the truths of both science and religion.

The development of a universal auxiliary language: The inability to communicate is a barrier to world unity. Baha’u’llah urged that humanity choose an auxiliary language to be taught in schools in addition to one’s native language.

Universal peace: Until international peace is established, humanity will not attain composure, stability or tranquility. Baha’u’llah urged all nations and governments to create international tribunals and binding treaties with sound provisions as a sacred and noble undertaking.

Underlying these principles are core beliefs about love, community and the centrality of justice in all human endeavors. Today, as humanity faces greater challenges, these teachings to bring about the security and well-being of the peoples of the world are needed more than ever.

As to Bahá’u’lláh’s purpose in revealing his laws and principles, he writes:

“My object is none other than the betterment of the world and the tranquility of its peoples. The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.”

Marcia Berry is a member of the Carlisle Baha’i Community. Comments are welcome at carlislebahai@yahoo.com and visit at www.bahai.us.

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