Bahai News - Baha'is gather to celebrate birth of prophet, founder
Baha'is gather to celebrate birth of prophet, founder
November 10, 2000
BY CATHLEEN FALSANI RELIGION REPORTER
Hundreds of followers of the Baha'i religion from across the region are
expected to gather in their grand house of worship in Wilmette Saturday
evening to mark the Birth of Baha'u'llah, one of the most important
celebrations on their religious calendar.
Baha'u'llah, the founder of Baha'i, was born in Persia (now Iran) 183
years ago Sunday.
Saturday's services will be a mix of reflection and celebration with
prayers, Scripture readings and song, much like Christmas Eve vigils in
the Christian tradition.
Baha'i is a monotheistic religion that worships Allah. Baha'u'llah, who
is not worshipped, is its prophet, but the religion teaches that eternal
truths have been revealed through many prophets, including Jesus Christ,
explained Lorelei McClure, spokeswoman for the National Spiritual Assembly
of the Baha'is of the United States in Evanston.
"We don't demean, denegrate or deny other religions," McClure said. "We
believe in oneness: one god that we know by these different names."
Passages from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Christian New Testament, the
Muslim Quran and various Baha'i Scriptures will be read at the Birth of
Baha'u'llah, who was born a Muslim, lived much of his life in exile after
straying from traditional Islam to follow the short-lived Babi mystics. He
then started his own faith tradition, Baha'i, which means "followers of
the glory." He died in what is now Israel in 1892.
Baha'i, still considered a heretical religion in the Muslim world, has an
estimated 5 million followers worldwide, with about 150,000 in the United
States, McClure said.
In the Chicago area, Baha'is number about 1,400.
The Baha'i house of worship in Wilmette is a North Shore architectural
touchstone that was built over a span of years from the 1920s to the 1950s.
It is the only one in North America. It was built by followers who were
introduced to Baha'i at the 1893 Parliament of World Religions at
Chicago's Columbian Exposition. The Parliament is credited with
introducing several Eastern religions to the West, including Hinduism.
©Copyright 2000, Chicago Sun-Times
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