7. How do you commit to your faith? How does your faith affect your everyday life?
It is first and foremost a commitment to Almighty God, a matter of the heart and soul of the individual. However, if someone wishes to ‘become a Bahá’i’ and join the community they can register their commitment with the National Assembly of whichever country they live in. This is known as ‘declaring’ one’s faith and desire to be a Bahá’i.
The first step is recognising the Founder of the Bahá’i Faith, Bahá’u’lláh, as the Messenger of God for this day. Accepting Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings and way of life is the next, and for most people involves linking up with their nearest community. There are Bahá’is in almost every part of the world, and in the UK and Eire there are several communities in cities, towns and villages.
Being a Bahá’i is a lifelong process and commitment: there are ways of living and common beliefs which are an important part of committing to the Faith. For example, the Bahá’i teachings hold that unity is very important, and that finding common ground with all people of all beliefs and backgrounds is essential. Backbiting (gossiping) is seen as one of the worst things people can do, and we try very hard to avoid it- even though it may be a struggle for people not to join in when others see it as acceptable.
There are lots of ways of finding out about the Bahá’i Faith including books, websites and talking to other Bahá’is, and part of committing to being a Bahá’i is deciding to find out as much as possible. We are not supposed to follow blindly, but to make a decision based on knowledge.
On a day-to-day level, committing to the Faith also involves: saying a daily obligatory prayer; trying to live a life which serves mankind; not drinking alcohol; avoiding gossip and trying to be the best person you can possibly be.
As to How my faith affects my everyday life, It actually informs everything I do! If we are to live up to the standards of the Bahá’i Faith, we should be honest, caring, kind, trustworthy, uphold justice, and work for the good of mankind. There are many passages in the Bahá’i writings which talk about the importance of good character: that backbiting is one of the worst things a person can do, that unity and fellowship should be our goal. Humility (being humble) is regarded as an important virtue, but so is the strength to defend others who may be weak or vulnerable. I think that this passage from Bahá’u’lláh is my kind of ideal of what a human should be:
Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbour and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgement and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.