Bahai News -

Members of the Baha'i faith to sponsor open house: Session to educate public about laws, history, principals

DAILY MAIL STAFF

There is one God who progressively reveals his will to humanity.

God's messengers have included Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus, Muhammad, The Bab, and Baha'u'llah, who wrote about equality, peace and unity. These are elements of the Baha'i faith, founded by Baha'u'llah, who wrote more than 100 manuscripts addressing topics ranging from the equality of men and women to the elimination of poverty and prejudice.

"The fundamental principals of the faith are the oneness of God, the oneness of religion, and the oneness of humanity," said Dr. Azita Misaghi, a dentist, mother, wife and member of the Baha'i faith.

Local members of the Baha'i faith will present the fourth in an ongoing monthly series geared to educate the public on the various religious communities throughout the valley. Sessions so far have included Islam, Hinduism and Judaism.

The Baha'i session will be held 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday in the University of Charleston Appalachian Room, located on the second floor of Geary Student Union.

The free series, sponsored by the Kanawha Valley Interfaith Council, is entitled "Interfaith Growing - Growing in Unity by Understanding Diversity." Attendance has grown at the sessions as people learn about the faiths of their neighbors in a relaxed atmosphere that welcomes questions.

Misaghi said the sessions "help to promote understanding, build tolerance and promote open-mindedness."

Most sessions have been held at the respective houses of worship, but the Baha'i community is small and there was concern the building would not offer adequate space, Misaghi said. The Baha'i Center, 166 Sunset Drive in Charleston, is a small white building that has previously been everything from a church to a day care center.

"It sat vacant five years before we purchased it," Misaghi said. "Up until last year, we met in homes. This was our opportunity to have a public place. Locally we are small, 50 to 60 people in Charleston and surrounding areas. In West Virginia, there are probably 200, and worldwide 6 million."

Baha'i houses of worship are located throughout the world. The headquarters of the National Spiritual Assembly, the administrative body in the United States, is located in Wilmette, Ill.

The public is invited to the local Baha'i Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday for a program of music, prayer and meditation. While this day will be a special open house, the public is always welcome to attend the regular 11 a.m. Sunday session.

The religion has no set ritual for prayer and no clergy. The faith stresses monog- amy and prohibits the use of drugs or alcohol except for medicinal purposes. Gossip is forbidden. Work should be performed in the spirit of service. Individuals are encouraged to pursue the truth for themselves.

"We believe in one God just as most people do; it is the same God we all call by different names," Misaghi said. "All messengers of the past such as Abraham, Krishna, Moses and Buddha came from God. Our mission is to let people know there is such a man as Baha'u'llah."

The difference among messengers is the information they offered was geared to fit the time, she said.

The Bab (Arabic for gate) prepared the way for the coming of Baha'u'llah (Glory of God) who was born in Persia (now Iran) in 1817 to a wealthy family but gave up a life of luxury to help the poor.

During his life, he experienced support as well as conflict as he proclaimed God had entrusted him with a revelation addressing humanity's current needs. The government suppressed him and he was banished from Persia to Iraq. He was later held in a prison in Akka, Israel. He died in 1892 leaving behind an abundance of writings that are treasured as scriptures.

Those who attend the session on Tuesday evening will see a handful of these books. One hour will be devoted to three speakers who will touch upon the topics of history, laws and principals.

The second hour is for questions, mingling and refreshments.

Religious leaders who are interested in sponsoring an evening explaining their faith may send a written request on letterhead to Dr. Linda Geronilla, 92 Cook Drive, Charleston, WV 25314.

Writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith can be reached at 348-1246 or by e-mail at charlotte@dailymail.com


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