Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have a question about Bahá'ís or the Bahá'í Faith? Ask it here.
What is the purpose of life? What is the true nature of human beings and what role does religion play in our spiritual development? What is "good" and what is "evil"? What are man's responsibilities to God and what is the spiritual meaning of life?
Bahá'u'lláh described God's purpose for man in the following way: "The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence. To this most excellent aim, this supreme objective, all the heavenly Books and the divinely-revealed and weighty Scriptures unequivocally bear witness."
Also see: The Purpose of Life
Do Bahá'ís believe in Heaven and Hell?
For Bahá’ís, the concepts of Heaven and Hell are allegories for nearness and remoteness from God. When we die, the condition of our souls determines our experience of the afterlife. Heaven and Hell are not physical places, but spiritual realities.
Also see: Heaven and hell: a Bahá'í view of life after death
What is the Bahá'í view of marriage and family?
Bahá'u'lláh said marriage is "a fortress for well-being and salvation." The Bahá'í writings further state that married couples should strive to become "loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity..."
Also see: Marriage and Family Life
How can I become involved?
Bahá'ís have regular meetings for worship and social and educational activities for children, youth, and adults, open to all. Bahá’ís gather in study circles to explore in a participatory manner Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings. There are also activities for service, observances of Bahá’í holy days and other events to which all are welcome. Informal gatherings, sometimes referred to as “fireside meetings,” provide an open setting for asking questions and learning more about the Faith for oneself.
If you would like more information on the children’s classes, devotional gatherings, study circles, or information meetings that Bahá’ís offer, or to attend other Bahá’í activities in Albany, click here
How do Bahá'ís worship?
Bahá’ís worship God through prayer and meditation, by participating in devotional gatherings, and through active service to their communities. They individually recite one of three obligatory prayers each day as prescribed by Bahá’u’lláh. The Bahá’í scriptures offer much guidance on the uses of prayer and contain many prayers for various purposes and occasions. Moreover, work performed in the spirit of service is, according to the Bahá’í teachings, a form of worshipping God.
How do Bahá'ís spread their beliefs?
Bahá’u’lláh has stated that each Bahá’í has the duty to share the Faith with others but forbids the practice of proselytism. Thus, no pressure must be put on anyone to accept it, since independent investigation of truth is a fundamental right and responsibility of each individual.
Also see: Sharing the Bahá'í Teachings
Where does money come from for Bahá'í activities and projects?
All activities of the Bahá’í community are supported by the voluntary contributions of individual believers. Bahá’ís neither seek nor accept funds from others for activities that relate to the internal development of the Bahá’í community. Funds from private, national, or international agencies are sometimes received for social and humanitarian initiatives, such as schools and agricultural projects that are designed to serve the community at large.
Also see: The Bahá'í Fund
Do Bahá’ís have places of worship?
Bahá’u’lláh called for temples of great beauty to be built eventually in every locality where Bahá’ís reside, each to be surrounded by institutions of social service. To date, seven have been built, at least one on each continent. While their architectural styles differ, they share certain features, such as nine entrances on nine sides, and are set in magnificent gardens (nine being the highest digit symbolizes completeness or unity). These temples are places for personal prayer and meditation, as well as collective worship, where sacred scriptures are recited and sung.
Also see: Bahá'í Houses of Worship
and Bahá'í Houses of Worship
and Holy Places and Houses of Worship
What is the Universal House of Justice?
Founded on a set of unique electoral and consultative principles, the Bahá'í administrative order is organized around elected governing councils, operating at the local, national, and international levels. The Universal House of Justice – the supreme, international legislative authority of this system – is a nine-member body elected at five-year intervals by the entire membership of the national governing institutions of the Bahá'í world. The members of the Universal House of Justice, Bahá'u'lláh wrote, are "the Trustees of God among His servants."
Also see: The Universal House of Justice
Who is Bahá'u'lláh?
Bahá’u’lláh is recognized by millions throughout the world as the Messenger of God for this age. The Bahá’í Faith is founded on His teachings. Born in 1817 to a prominent family in Iran, He showed from childhood an unusual intellectual precocity, although unschooled in the kind of learning prevalent in 19th century Iran; He demonstrated, too, a particular devotion to relief of the condition of the poor. His given name was Mírza Husayn ‘Alí, but He identified Himself as Bahá’u’lláh, which means “Glory of God,” a title by which He was addressed by His Forerunner, the Báb. Because of His teachings, He was banished into an exile, eventually lasting forty years, that took Him to the Holy Land. It was there that He passed away in 1892.
Also see: The Life of Bahá’u’lláh
and Selections from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh
and Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892) -- Founder of the Bahá'í Faith
and Bahá'u'lláh: Manifestation of God
What is the vision for the future?
One of the most distinctive aspects of the worldwide Bahá'í community is the hopeful and yet pragmatic way in which its members face the future. Far from fearing it, Bahá'ís the world over are dedicated to creating a new and peaceful world civilization based on principles of justice, prosperity, and continuing advancement. This vision reflects not only an appreciation for humanity's historic longing for peace and collective well-being, but also our understanding that humanity as a whole has now reached a new level of maturity. That it is possible to create societies founded upon cooperation, trust, and genuine concern for others is at the heart of Bahá'í belief and action. Indeed, Bahá'ís believe that humanity is on the verge of an evolutionary leap that will carry humankind to a future where "world peace is not only possible but inevitable."
Also see: A New Vision for Humanity's Future
How do Bahá'ís relate to politics?
At first glance, one might expect to find the members of the Bahá’í community actively engaged in a wide range of political pursuits in furtherance of its universal ideals. The opposite is in fact the case.
Also see: Bahá'í Involvement in Politics
How do Bahá'ís view the environmental crisis?
Only a comprehensive vision of a global society, supported by universal values and principles, can inspire individuals to take responsibility for the long-term care and protection of the natural environment. Bahá'ís find such a world-embracing vision and system of values in the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh - teachings which herald an era of planetary justice, prosperity and unity.
Also see: Conservation and Sustainable Development in the Bahá'í Faith
What is the Bahá'í view of human rights?
The evolution of the international human rights regime, particularly the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and of subsequent Covenants and Conventions elucidating and extending the provisions of that Declaration, has been the chief determinant in shaping a normative international moral order. In the process of setting human rights standards, a moral ethos with global ramifications has been progressively articulated. This remarkable development, clearly foreseen in the Bahá'í writings, attests to the period of collective maturity which humanity is now entering. Human beings, `Abdu'l-Bahá states, "must now become imbued with new virtues and powers, new moral standards, new capacities."
Also see: The Human Rights Discourse: A Bahá'í Perspective
What is Ayyam-i-Ha?
Baha’u’llah has said of Ayyam-i-Ha: “It behoveth the people of Bahá [Bahá'ís], throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, and with joy and exultation to hail and glorify their Lord, to sing His praise and magnify His Name.”
Appropriately, Ayyam-i-Ha spiritually sets the stage for the annual Bahá’í Fast, which goes from March 2 to March 20. Naw-Rúz, the Bahá’í new year, begins on March 21, the first day of spring.
Also see: ‘Days outside of time’ festival reveres eternal essence of God
What is the Bahá'í Fast?
"The fasting period, which lasts nineteen days starting as a rule from the second of March every year and ending on the twentieth of the same month, involves complete abstention from food and drink from sunrise till sunset. It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires."
Also see: The Bahá'í Fast
What is Naw-Rúz?
The Bahá’í New Year’s Day,March 21, coincides with the spring equinox. Naw-Rúz is an ancient Persian festival celebrating the "new day" and for Bahá'ís it marks the end of the annual 19-Day Fast and is one of the nine holy days of the year when work is suspended.
Also see: The Bahá'í Calendar