Laws and Beliefs
- Do the Bahá’ís have a holy book?
- What are the Bahá'í laws?
- How do Canadian Bahá’ís relate to politics and the law?
- What do Bahá'ís believe about God?
- What is the purpose of religion?
- Is there just one true religion?
- How does God reveal Himself to humanity?
- What is the relationship of the Bahá’í Faith to Islam?
- Do we have souls?
- What is the purpose of life?
- Do Bahá’ís believe in heaven and hell?
- What happens when I die?
Yes. The most holy book of the Bahá'í Faith is the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, a book of laws that Bahá'u'lláh prescribed for a future world society. It is part of the large body of scriptures that He revealed.
Comprising an estimated 100 volumes, these writings cover a wide range of topics, including laws and principles for personal conduct and the governance of society, as well as mystical writings dealing with the progress of the soul and its journey towards God. The many writings of the Báb and those of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are also a sacred source of reference for Bahá’ís. Moreover, Bahá’ís recognize the divine origins of the Bible, the Qur’an, and the holy texts of the world’s other revealed religions.
What are the Bahá'í laws?
The Bahá'í teachings include laws and prescriptions for the spiritual and moral life of the individual and for the governance and development of society. The laws for one’s personal life include, among others, daily prayer, observance of an annual period of fasting, the education of children, abstention from partisan politics, and the obligation to engage in a trade or profession. Other moral and ethical principles include prohibitions against backbiting, gambling, and the non-medical use of alcohol and drugs, and an imperative to lead a chaste and holy life.
How do Canadian Bahá’ís relate to politics and the law?
Canadian Bahá'ís uphold the authority of the federal, provincial and municipal governments through loyalty and obedience to their laws. Although Bahá'ís participate in civil elections, they refrain from partisanship and do not join political parties or factions. Bahá'ís may occupy federal and provincial administrative posts but do not accept political appointments or run for elected office.
God is the ultimate Reality, Creator of the universe, Whose nature is unknowable and inaccessible to humankind. Such designations as God, Allah, Yahweh, and Brahma all refer to the One Divine Being. We learn about God through His Messengers, Who mirror His attributes and guide humanity.
Through Divine Messengers, God has revealed His laws and teachings to humanity in order that the individual soul can draw near to Him, and so that society can advance spiritually and materially. Throughout history, the Revelations of the Messengers of God have renewed religion so that humanity can come to understand its true purpose.
The Baha’i writings describe all world religions as chapters in the ongoing revelation of a single book. They come from the same Source and have the same essential purpose: to guide and educate humanity. Their spiritual core is one, but they differ in their secondary aspects, such as their social teachings, which change according to humanity’s evolving requirements.
Throughout history, God has revealed Himself through a succession of Divine Messengers, Whose teachings — moral, spiritual, and social — have renewed man’s relationship to God and provided the basis for the advancement of human society. Among these Messengers have been Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb, and Bahá'u'lláh. This succession reflects God’s plan for educating humanity, a process that will continue indefinitely.
The Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh, was born into a Muslim family and society. Thus, in much the same way as Christianity came out of Judaism, or Buddhism followed Hinduism, the Bahá’í Faith emerged from an Islamic context. However, as with these other examples, the Bahá’í Faith is an independent religion with its own laws, teachings, and institutions.
The essential identity of each person is a rational and immortal soul. Although our existence on earth depends on our physical bodies, the nature of the human being is fundamentally spiritual.
According to the Bahá’í teachings, the purpose of human existence is essentially spiritual: to gain knowledge of our inmost selves by developing a relationship with God, and to develop our spiritual and intellectual potential by contributing to the progress of an ever-advancing civilization.
For Bahá’ís, the concepts of heaven and hell are metaphors for nearness and remoteness from God. Heaven and hell are not physical places, but spiritual conditions representing our nearness to or remoteness from God, whether in this world or in the spiritual worlds after this life.
The soul is a spiritual mystery, whose purpose is to progress eternally towards its Creator. After its separation from the physical body, the soul continues to progress through the spiritual worlds of God. Its progress depends, in part, on the preparation one has made to cultivate spiritual attributes and qualities in accord with the teachings of God’s Messengers.