In a time of religious tension and violence, the Baha'i Faith stands out as a tradition that emphasizes the essential unity of humanity.
Less than 200 years old, the Baha'i Faith has rich and beautiful traditions to offer its followers. The religion traces its inception to two primary founders -- Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad, who came to be known as the Báb (meaning “the Gate” in Arabic) and Bahá’u’lláh, who carried on the Báb's message of peace. Both men were born in the land that is now Iran and professed to bring a vision of spiritual unity to the world.
The Baha'i Faith centers around several key beliefs, including the oneness of all world religions, the inherent goodness of human beings, the fundamental equality of all sexes, and the importance of education.
Despite their dedication to this peaceful faith, Baha'is have experienced persecution in Iran, Egypt and several other countries around the world.
If you're seeking to explore the Baha'i Faith more deeply, you've come to the right place. This week, our ReligionReads series features essential books on Baha'i spirituality that both practitioners and religious seekers can use to learn more about this peaceful tradition.
This book by Kenneth E. Bowers serves as an introductory guide to the teachings and history of the Baha'i Faith. Special focus is given to the faith's founder, Bahá’u’lláh, who lived from 1817 to1892.
The Basson King
Written by actor Rainn Wilson, The Basson Kingexplores the comedian's rise to fame as Dwight Schrute on The Office. Many may not know that Wilson is a life-long practicing Baha'i, which he discusses in the book.
No Jim Crow Church
South Carolina is home to the second largest Baha'i population in the United States. The community's fascinating history is told in No Jim Crow Church by Louis Venters. Charles H. Lippy, coauthor of Religion in Contemporary America, said in a review of the book: "Carefully researched, the story told here fills a significant gap in our knowledge of South Carolina's rich and diverse religious history.”
Prison Poemsis a collection of pieces by Mahvash Sabet, who formerly worked with the Yaran, an informal council managing the affairs of the Iranian Baha'i community. In 2008 she and other members of the council were arrested and later condemned to twenty years imprisonment. Many believe the individuals have been targeted and unfairly jailed simply for practicing the Baha'i Faith.
The Basic Elements of the Baha'i Faith
This illustrated guide outlines the history, principles, teachings and practices of the Baha'i Faith. The writing is conversational and accessible, making it a great introduction for any seekers out there.
The Hidden Words
The Hidden Words is a selection of writings by Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Baha'i Faith. Practicing Baha'i Cynthia Davis said of the book in an email to The Huffington Post: "Described as a love song from God to humanity, these short, often mystical passages of Baha'i sacred writings can be perused for the right fit for you, at any given moment."
The Book of Certitude
In The Book of Certitude, Bahá’u’lláh makes an argument for the foundational unity of all the world’s religions and the universal nature of the revelations human beings have received from God's prophets.
Paris Talks contains the public addresses delivered in Paris in 1911 by `Abdu'l-Bahá, the eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh. `Abdu'l-Bahá expanded on the teachings of his father, including topics of the soul, the purpose of religion and world peace. A description of the book on Amazon states: "`Abdu'l-Bahá spoke in a profound yet simple manner that transcended all barriers."
The Promise of World Peace
First composed in 1985, The Promise of World Peace serves as a message from the Universal House of Justice and the Bahá'i Chair for World Peace at the University of Maryland to the people of the world. It has been published in ten languages and calls on people of all faiths and backgrounds to work toward establishing peace.
The Vision of Race Unity
Published by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, this book makes a case for racial unity and an end to racism from a Baha'i perspective.
This book features prayers by the three central figures of the Baha'i Faith: Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází, founder of Bábism and referred to as the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, and `Abdu'l-Bahá. Flip through and find the ones that resonate with you.
Thanks to the Office of Public Affairs for the Bahá'ís of the United States and Baha'i organizer Cynthia Davis for contributing to this list.
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