Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Ready Soul

In Memorials of the Faithful, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells the moving story of a man named Hájí ‘Abdu’r-Raḥím-i-Yazdí, whom He described as “a precious soul, from his earliest years virtuous and God-fearing, and known among the people as a holy man, peerless in observing his religious duties, mindful as to his acts.” The Master continued:
His strong religious faith was an indisputable fact. He served and worshiped God by day and night, was sound, mild, compassionate, a loyal friend.
Because he was fully prepared, at the very moment when he heard the summons from the Supreme Horizon—heard the drumbeats of “Am I not your Lord?”—he instantly cried out, “Yea, verily!” With his whole being, he became enamored of the splendors shed by the Light of the World. Openly and boldly he began to confirm his family and friends.
The following story from a Bahá’í in Colorado Springs illustrates how some people are “fully prepared” to accept Bahá’u’lláh and are moved to declare their Faith very quickly after hearing His blessed name, and arise to serve Him:
Two Sundays ago, hardly anyone showed up for Sunday Devotions at the Bahá’í Center, and only three of us were there when Robert (Bob) walked in and said, “I’m here to attend your service!” He had been filling gas at the Shamrock station across the street when he noticed the Bahá’í Center sign for devotions, and decided to walk in.
After the devotional meeting, Bob stayed to listen to the usual introduction to the Faith followed by a brief discussion, and we answered his questions to the best of our ability. Bob is from Florida, and was in Colorado Springs on business. He said he had been searching for a while after giving up on his Baptist church, and it was in a Unitarian church where he heard about the Bahá’í Faith for the first time. Bob was very touched by what he heard during our discussion and asked, “What are you doing to get your wonderful message across to the world? It all just makes so much sense!” We answered, “We’re really trying our best; we’re even going door to door!” We gave him a standard welcome package containing an introductory CD.
Last Sunday Bob came back to the Center and said he had gone through all the materials thoroughly. This time he met more Bahá’ís and seemed even more impressed with the Faith.
Tonight, my husband and I invited him to dinner, and had a wonderful time with him. In the course of our visit I mentioned casually that when he goes home he should look up the Bahá’ís in his town and keep in touch with them. He surprised us by saying, “Oh! I didn’t tell you! I went online and registered as a Bahá’í! I looked up the Bahá’ís back in Florida, contacted them, and one of them welcomed me. It was so nice, and we made arrangements for me to meet them upon my return home.” Bob explained that after his last visit to the Bahá’í Center, he went online from his hotel room, further investigated the Faith, and  declared exactly nine days after hearing about Bahá’u’lláh! And he’s going home in two weeks to teach the Faith to his wife and seven year-old son!
Ya Bahá’u’l-Abhá!


Anonymous said...

"going door to door"? I thought baha'is aren't supposed to prosylitze.

Teaching blog said...

Indeed, Baha’is are strictly forbidden to proselytize their Faith. At the same time, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah, asks the members of our community to joyfully share our message of unity and service as widely as possible, with people open to hearing about it.

So what is proselytizing? The National Assembly of the Baha’is in the U.S. writes that proselytizing “implies bringing undue pressure to bear upon someone to change his Faith. It is also usually understood to imply the making of threats or the offering of material benefits as an inducement to conversion.”

Simply put, Baha’is should not only stop talking about the teachings of our Faith once a person has indicated they do not wish to hear about it, but are obligated to do so. Every individual has an inherent right to choose his or her set of beliefs, consciously and independently.

About “going door to door,” this is a means open to the Baha’i community, provided we do so with tact and wisdom and observe people’s right to privacy. A lot depends on the culture of a particular region, that is, whether people are open to meeting visitors to their homes or not. Going to door to door is not the only way, or even the primary way, to share the Baha’i message.

Most of all, Baha’is are called on to actively and sincerely work to serve humankind. As Abdu'l-Bahá says: "To be a Bahá'í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood."