The Soul & the Next World
According to Bahá’í belief, the soul becomes associated with the body at the point of conception. While in this life, it acquires virtues, such as honesty, love, truthfulness, kindness, etc. These qualities are needed in the next world, which is “as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother”. At the point of death, the soul separates from the body. Souls continue to progress “throughout the worlds of God”.
The Bahá’í Faith has few rituals. Parents may choose to have a naming ceremony, but this is not a religious requirement. Bahá’u’lláh fixed 15 years as the age of spiritual maturity, and therefore “obligatory prayer” and fasting commence from that age. No pressure can be put upon the young person to become a Bahá’í if they choose not to.
A Bahá’í has complete freedom of choice when looking for a husband or wife. But when a couple wish to marry, both sets of (natural) parents must then agree to the wedding. Bahá’ís believe that the main purpose of marriage is to rear children in a happy, secure environment, and the active support of both families makes this more likely. If a couple are spiritually united, they will progress together in the next world. During the marriage ceremony, the bride and groom each repeat the sentence, “We will all, verily, abide by the will of God”. This has to take place in front of two reliable witnesses. In addition, the bride and groom will add prayers, readings and music of their choice.
When a person dies, the body must be treated with respect and there is a special prayer which is said when a Bahá’í is buried. We should be happy for the soul who is progressing to the next world. Bahá’u’lláh says: “I have made death a messenger of joy unto thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve?” In addition to the “obligatory” Prayer for the Dead there are a number of others which can be used at will. The body should be wrapped in cloth and placed in a coffin made from a substantial material, and a ring, engraved with a specific sentence, placed on one of the fingers. In Bahá’í understanding, life after death is neither cyclical (as in reincarnation theories) nor static, as progress is without end.