A Brief Introduction to the Baha’i Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a revealed religion, founded by Bahá'u'llah (who Bahá'í's believe brought the message from God intended for this day and age). Bahá'u'llah was born in Iran (Persia) in 1817 but was successfully exiled and eventually died in 1892 in the Mansion of Bají, Israel. During his lifetime, he revealed hundreds of books on the teachings which the Bahá'í's are progressively learning, applying in their lives, and sharing with others.
Bahá'í's believe in three main principles: The "Oneness of God", the "Oneness of Religion" and "the Oneness of Mankind".
Let's look at the first principle, "the Oneness of God". You may have heard people use the expressions "your God" and "my God"; you may also have heard the members of different religions refer to God by different names, but Bahá'í's don't believe that there are different Gods for different people, or different religions. Bahá'í's believe, that no matter what name He is called, He is still the same one God who listens to all of us, no matter what religion we belong to.
The second principle, "the Oneness of Religion", is based upon the concept that all revealed religions have come as part of a divinely ordained plan from God to assist in the spiritual and social development of mankind as well as to infuse a new life force into humanity just as springtime does for the earth that has become dark and cold during the winter period. Bahá'í's believe that the Holy Writings of each revealed religion contain both spiritual and social teachings to guide mankind. The Manifestations or Prophet-founders of each religion came at particular times in humanity's history to guide mankind towards God and also to deal with society's needs at that respective time in its history. As time passes, human society develops and changes (and some move away from the spiritual path) - just like children grow from infancy through childhood, youth and adolescence to adulthood - and at each stage it needs appropriate guidance. This is why it appears that there are different religions existing in the world today. They all in fact came from the same God. To understand the unity of religion, we need only to look at the spiritual teachings of each religion and we will find the universal values of trustworthiness, love, justice, etc. because we are all essentially spiritual beings and these godly qualities are what we all need to develop. The spiritual teachings have remained the same throughout the history of religion on earth. These teachings help us to progress both in this world and for our spiritual life beyond death. When these qualities are applied in our daily lives, they bring solidarity, harmony, trust and security to society. The spiritual teachings, therefore, underpin the social teachings, but the social teachings are important to bring about positive change in society.
The third principle, the Oneness of Mankind, is based upon the understanding that we are one race - the human race, and the belief that God loves us all equally, regardless of our physical differences, and that He would like us to do likewise. For many centuries hatred and warfare have reigned throughout the world simply because people of particular races, nations or social classes thought that they were better than the others, when this was not necessarily so. When we look at a beautiful garden, what we see are flowers and trees and other plants of all different sizes, shapes and colors. If there was too much of one flower, plant or tree, the garden would probably not look so beautiful. Likewise with humanity, mankind is like a beautiful garden because of all the physical differences, and just like the gardener (who works in that beautiful garden) loves all his flowers and trees equally, regardless of their differences, Bahá'í's believe that God (The Almighty Gardener), loves us all equally and wants us all to love and respect each other in the same way, so that this Godly garden could continue to look beautiful and thereby fulfill it's potential.
Trinidad and Tobago is a Republic consisting of the two islands at the southernmost end of the Caribbean chain, close to the South American continent (just 6 miles to Venezuela at its closest point). It lies at latitude 10.6 of the equator, and longitude 61.3 west, and therefore enjoys a tropical climate and vegetation. The human population (religion & culture) is very diverse also - as a result of immigration (forced & unforced) from Europe, Africa, Syria & Lebanon, India, China and South America. The language spoken is English. The main religions found here are Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Bahá'í. There are also several other religions some originating from Africa and those of the Amerindians (there is a small community of Caribs). For the most part, people of all races, creeds and religions freely associate with one another & often intermarry.
The Bahá'í's are guided and nurtured by Local Spiritual Assemblies which consist of nine members, elected annually on the first day of the Most Holy Festival, Ridvan (pronounced as rez-wan), April 21st - the date when Bahá'u'llah declared his mission as God's Manifestation for today. There are presently 21 elected Local Spiritual Assemblies (L.S.A.'s) in Trinidad and Tobago. In Trinidad their areas of jurisdiction follow the lines of local government boundaries and in Tobago; they follow the lines of the parish boundaries.
Within the Ridván period (April 21st - May 2nd) the National Spiritual Assembly, the governing body for the Baha’is in a country, is annually elected, but in this case there is a two step process of election. First, we elect thirty-eight (38) delegates (whose are elected by proportionate representation and at district conventions). These delegates then attend a National Convention, where they will elect the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'í's of Trinidad and Tobago, which also consists of nine members.
There is no electioneering in the Bahá'í election process. The process involves, first praying to God for guidance, and then searching your heart and mind for those Bahá'í's aged 21 and over from within the community, "who can best combine the necessary qualities of unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience" or those who, after prayer, meditation and reflection, are considered faithful, sincere, experienced, capable and competent, without regard to personalities, race or nationality. In this way the Assembly should represent some of the most dedicated and capable individuals in the Bahá'í community.
For information on the History of the Bahá'í Faith in Trinidad and Tobago, click on the History Page.
For information on the Community Activities, click on the News or Cluster pages.
To find out more about the Bahá'í Faith, contact The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'í's of Trinidad and Tobago.