Bahá’u’lláh, who is considered a messenger of God, founded the Baha'i faith in Persia. Embracing all faiths, Baha’ís believe that Bahá'u'lláh is the most recent messenger, coming after those such as Moses, Abraham, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad. They believe all of these messengers are equal and have each founded separate religions based on the needs of the civilization at the time. They believe that all names for God (Allah, Yahweh, Buddha, etc.) are correct and refer to the same god. They believe all religions are in reality one religion that is continuously evolving.
Baha’ís are required to recite one of three prayers every day. One of these prayers is: “I bear witness, O my God, that Thou has created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.” They also practice daily meditation and abstain from alcohol and gossip.
The Baha’í religion teaches that humanity is a single race, and Baha’ís practice and advocate lifestyles to help the formation of a global society. Some of these principles are the elimination of prejudice; equality between the sexes; the independent investigation of truth; universal compulsory education; the elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty; the harmony of religion and science; and unity of God, religion and humankind. They also teach that service to humanity should be one’s highest priority.
The Baha’í faith has about five million members worldwide. There are seven houses of worship, which are open to anyone. Most Baha’í communities worship out of people’s homes.
The Columbia Baha’í community meets in local homes at 7 p.m. Mondays for fireside discussions and at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays for devotionals. Both events are very informal and relaxed. Most members do not attend both events every week.
The Baha’í community of Columbia may not have a building to worship in, but its members will warmly welcome visitors into their community and homes to share their beliefs. Besides meeting every Monday and Tuesday night for fireside discussions and devotionals, the Baha’í community holds a unity feast once a month.
For more information on the fireside discussions and devotionals, go to http://comobahai.org/calendar.htm.