One of the things we often get asked about as Baha’is is our conviction of the principle of the oneness of religion. As it is one of the central teachings laid down by Baha’u’llah, it is of great importance that we are able to understand the implications of seeing all religions, in essence, as being as one. This way we are able to answer common questions we are asked, such as, “How can all religions be true when they appear to disagree in the ways they are practised?” or, “Sure, different religions can get along, but clearly they advocate for different things, no?”
A response to these questions will be inherently based upon the concept of Progressive Revelation, a core concept that suggests that religious truth is, in essence, one, and that it is progressively revealed by God through a series of divine Messengers. Christ, Muhammad, Moses, Krishna, Baha’u’llah and the Bab are some examples of these Messengers that are like perfect mirrors that reflect and manifest the perfections and attributes of God and reveal His Word. Through the lens of Progressive Revelation we are able to clearly see how all the great religions of the world are divine in origin and regard their founders as divine Manifestations of God. Continue reading
Over the past week, Christians have been commemorating Easter (which fell on 8 April this year) and Jews have been commemorating Passover (which goes from 6 to 14 April this year). Just as Easter is of great theological significance to Christians, Passover is of deep spiritual and historical significance to Jews. Passover commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery. For Christians, Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus three days after his crucifixion.
The repeated overlap of Easter and Passover, however, has historically been a source of tension among some Christians and Jews. Interfaith Family calls this the “Passover Predicament”:
For Jews, Easter crystallizes the religious differences between them and Christians. The week leading up to Easter is filled with important historical events from Jesus’ life. From the commemoration of the Last Supper on Thursday, through observance of the crucifixion on Good Friday, to celebration of the resurrection on Easter Sunday, Christians reflect on the foundation of their beliefs — beliefs that separate them from Jews. Moreover, the legacy of anti-Semitism, rooted in beliefs of some Christians that Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death, can make Easter a particularly difficult holiday for Jews.
While people very often do prefer to focus on the beliefs that distinguish them from followers of other religions, the truth is that these religions have an incredible amount in common – more than most people realise!
Additionally, a careful study of the various traditions and commemorations which seemingly serve to highlight differences in beliefs – such as in the case of Passover and Easter – can actually, in my opinion, be a starting point to reflect on the shared heritage that all religions share.
Every year Baha’is from all over the world and of all cultural backgrounds celebrate Naw-Ruz on the day of the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, with Tihran, the birthplace of Baha’u’llah, as its standard.
Naw Ruz has its origins as a Zoroastrian observance in ancient Iran and, to this day, is celebrated as a cultural festival by Iranians of all religious backgrounds. In addition to being celebrated by Iranians and members of the Iranian diaspora, the observance of Naw Ruz has also spread to many other parts of the world, and is celebrated a a cultural holiday in India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iraqi Kurdistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Naw-Ruz, which means “New Day”, is celebrated at the vernal equinox, on the first day of spring. It is a time of joy and celebration, with the darkness of winter coming to an end and the reappearance of light, warmth and the beauty of spring’s flowers. It is a day of new beginnings – of change and hope.
However, for Baha’is, Naw Ruz also has deep spiritual significance. Naw Ruz marks the end of the 19-day Baha’i Fast, which is a period of reflection and profound spiritual reinvigoration for Baha’is. Naw-Ruz was ordained by Baha’u’llah as a celebration of humanity’s “spiritual springtime”: the Baha’i dispensation.