a few questions

Discussion in 'Baha'i' started by paul, Sep 25, 2007.

  1. paul

    paul recovering sinner

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    Do you chant prayers in the Bahia faith?

    Or have any sort of singing?

    Is there a certain way funerals are done, if so why.
    As to cremation or burial?

    Are there any services or customs to remember the dead?

    Do you have a building like a church, mosque?

    And who pays for it?

    Do you have a certain way of praying, if so what are the reasons?

    Is there like one leader of the area, in like one building?

    Is there like a counsellor?

    And what happens at the time if someone is dying of cancer or something?

    Is there more than one sort of leader role in the one building?

    Does the sort of leader have to be a man and if so why?

    Thanks.
    Paul
     
  2. Popeyesays

    Popeyesays New Member

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    1) We recite or chant as we please. We usually ask someone who is pleased to chant to do a prayer in worship gatherings as a chant, but it will be one of several. Of course, any individual can chant, recite or read a prayer.

    2) Yes music is allowed and encouraged. In the Houses of Worship (of which there are just seven) choral music acapella is allowed. But in celebrations or gatherings in homes, and Baha`i Centers around the world musicis always appreciated.

    3 & 4) Burial is the custom. Cremation is greatly discouraged. We gather at the gravesite to perform a particular prayer during the service. Again there may be other prayers and remembrances. We are also prone to hold memorial services after the burial.

    5) Some communities large enough and affluent enough may have Baha`i Centers, other communities gather in homes.

    6) No one but Baha`i's may contribute to ANY Baha`i Fund. Whether those funds are earmakred for construction, administrative costs or whatever only Baha`i may give to Baha`i Funds. Outside contributions are returned to the giver. If the gift was cash and we cannot be certain it came from a Baha`i we give those funds to charities rather than keep it for our fund.

    7) We have many forms of prayer. Prayers for holy days and gatherings are read, recited or chanted by individuals. We have no communal prayer other than the Prayer for the Dead at the Graveside and even that is recited by ONE individual, not in parts. Daily Obligatory Prayer has forms and prostrations but those are done only in private never in groups.

    8) We have no clergy whatsoever. The only authority in the faith is in elected groups who have no authority individually. These groups are known as Spiritual Assemblies and occur on the local, regional national and international level without nomination or discussion of candidates and in secret ballot. The international Assembly is known as the Universal House of Justice. It is electeed every five years.

    9) Members of the Universal House of Justice are men. Members of National, Regional, and Local Spiritual Assemblies can be either men or women.

    Any other questions or clarifications, just ask.

    Regards,
    Scot
     
  3. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Unit conventions will be held soon:

    Hi Paul!

    Welcome to the Baha'i Forum and great to see your questions.. I think Scott answered them well...

    I just wanted to stress that all our administrative institutions from the local to National and the international level are elective and this next month we're holding unit conventions to elect representatives to our National Convention in April of next year. Some posts are appointive but are limited to a certain purpose.. We have Counselors who are appointed a certain task and area .. and they serve the Faith in their capacities. These counselors can be men or women.

    - Art
     
  4. paul

    paul recovering sinner

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    Do you chant in english?

    Is there a theological or some reason why burial?

    What are the Daily Obligatory Prayers?

    Are you encouraged or taught to pray a certain numbers of times and at
    certain times of the day?

    What are the forms and prostrations, and purpose for them?

    Do you have like memorial traditions for those departed?
    And is there certain ways they are kept in rememberence by their families?
    Are there certain prayers, or customs?

    How do you view reincarnation?

    Thanks for your replies.
    Paul
     
  5. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Hello Paul again! Great questions...!!!

    I'll post your questions and then give my comments:

    Do you chant in english?

    Baha'i prayers are translated into a hundred languages...so you can chant in English... Most of our prayers are recitded from memory or read..some like to chant them. There are no restrictions. Chinese, Spanish, German, Russian, Farsi, Arabic, Amharic ...and the list goes on...

    Is there a theological or some reason why burial?

    Baha'i burial is for adult believers and requires that the body not be cremated or embalmed... The burial should be within an hour's journey from the place of death. The Baha'i prayer for burial is one of few times a prayer is said in congregation in our Faith. So Baha'i burial follows what was revealed for us Baha'is through Baha'u'llah.

    What are the Daily Obligatory Prayers?

    There are three obligatory prayers we can choose from... One is a long one said every twenty four hours... Another is quite brief and should be said around noon... another can be said three times a day in the morning, noon and evening. You can see these prayers at

    Bahá'í Reference Library - Bahá’í Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Pages 3-4

    Be sure to go to the next page to see them...and to see the requirements.

    Are you encouraged or taught to pray a certain numbers of times and at
    certain times of the day?

    Check into the site I gave you where it explains... We are also supposed to read the Writings in the morning nad evening. Baha'i prayers are a personal obligation of every Baha'i and are recited alone... Other prayers can be said in devotional meetings but the obligatory prayers are recited alone in private.

    What are the forms and prostrations, and purpose for them?

    Again check the site above... The purpose is to instill humility so that the body is in tune with the words. We prostrate before God..

    Do you have like memorial traditions for those departed?

    People are free to have memorial services and compose them..

    And is there certain ways they are kept in rememberence by their families?

    There are no "certain" ways.. We can remember the departed and pray for them and ask them to intercede for us.

    Are there certain prayers, or customs?

    When we go on pilgrimage ...and some day we will hopefully be able to go to pilgrimage in Iraq and Iran there are certain prayers and so on... The Obligatory daily prayers and the prayer for the dead mentioned above are used...also there is a brief prayer said in the Baha'i marriage ceremony which is very simple.

    How do you view reincarnation?

    Baha'is do not believe in reincarnation. We believe the physical characteristics can return but the soul after life in this world ascends to the spiritual worlds of God.

    Thanks for your replies.

    Anytime! :)

    - Art
    Paul
     
  6. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Baha'i

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    Hi, Paul; welcome to the neighborhood! :)


    I see others have alreay answered most of your questions very well, so I'll just add this (from the Baha'i scriptures) to amplify the answer about reincarnation.


    Best regards, and do keep the questions coming: we LOVE 'em! :)


    Bruce


    - - - - -

    “CHAPTER 81

    “Question. - What is the truth of the question of reincarnation, which is believed by some people?

    “Answer. - The object of what we are about to say is to explain the reality - not to deride the beliefs of other people; it is only to explain the facts; that is all. We do not oppose anyone's ideas, nor do we approve of criticism.

    “Know, then, that those who believe in reincarnation are of two classes: one class does not believe in the spiritual punishments and rewards of the other world, and they suppose that man by reincarnation and return to this world gains rewards and recompenses; they consider heaven and hell to be restricted to this world and do not speak of the existence of the other world. Among these there are two further divisions. One division thinks that man sometimes returns to this world in the form of an animal in order to undergo severe punishment and that, after enduring this painful torment, he will be released from the animal world and will come again into the human world; this is called transmigration. The other division thinks that from the human world one again returns to the human world, and that by this return rewards and punishments for a former life are obtained; this is called reincarnation. Neither of these classes speak of any other world besides this one.

    “The second sort of believers in reincarnation affirm the existence of the other world, and they consider reincarnation the means of becoming perfect - that is, they think that man, by going from and coming again to this world, will gradually acquire perfections, until he reaches the inmost perfection. In other words, that men are composed of matter and force: matter in the beginning - that is to say, in the first cycle - is imperfect, but on coming repeatedly to this world it progresses and acquires refinement and delicacy, until it becomes like a polished mirror; and force, which is no other than spirit, is realized in it with all the perfections.

    “This is the presentation of the subject by those who believe in reincarnation and transmigration. We have condensed it; if we entered into the details, it would take much time. This summary is sufficient. No logical arguments and proofs of this question are brought forward; they are only suppositions and inferences from conjectures, and not conclusive arguments. Proofs must be asked for from the believers in reincarnation, and not conjectures, suppositions and imaginations.

    “But you have asked for arguments of the impossibility of reincarnation. This is what we must now explain. The first argument for its impossibility is that the outward is the expression of the inward; the earth is the mirror of the Kingdom; the material world corresponds to the spiritual world. Now observe that in the sensible world appearances are not repeated, for no being in any respect is identical with, nor the same as, another being. The sign of singleness is visible and apparent in all things. If all the granaries of the world were full of grain, you would not find two grains absolutely alike, the same and identical without any distinction. It is certain that there will be differences and distinctions between them. As the proof of uniqueness exists in all things, and the Oneness and Unity of God is apparent in the reality of all things, the repetition of the same appearance is absolutely impossible. Therefore, reincarnation, which is the repeated appearance of the same spirit with its former essence and condition in this same world of appearance, is impossible and unrealizable. As the repetition of the same appearance is impossible and interdicted for each of the material beings, so for spiritual beings also, a return to the same condition, whether in the arc of descent or in the arc of ascent, is interdicted and impossible, for the material corresponds to the spiritual.

    “Nevertheless, the return of material beings with regard to species is evident; so the trees which during former years brought forth leaves, blossoms and fruits in the coming years will bring forth exactly the same leaves, blossoms and fruits. This is called the repetition of species. If anyone makes an objection saying that the leaf, the blossom and the fruit have been decomposed, and have descended from the vegetable world to the mineral world, and again have come back from the mineral world to the
    vegetable world, and, therefore, there has been a repetition - the answer is that the blossom, the leaf and the fruit of last year were decomposed, and these combined elements were disintegrated and were dispersed in space, and that the particles of the leaf and fruit of last year, after decomposition, have not again become combined, and have not returned. On the contrary, by the composition of new elements, the species has returned. It is the same with the human body, which after decomposition becomes disintegrated, and the elements which composed it are dispersed. If, in like manner, this body should again return from the mineral or vegetable world, it would not have exactly the same composition of elements as the former man. Those elements have been decomposed and dispersed; they are dissipated in this vast space. Afterward, other particles of elements have been combined, and a second body has been formed; it may be that one of the particles of the former individual has entered into the composition of the succeeding individual, but these particles have not been conserved and kept, exactly and completely, without addition or diminution, so that they may be combined again, and from that composition and mingling another individual may come into existence. So it cannot be proved that this body with all its particles has returned; that the former man has become the latter; and that, consequently, there has been repetition; that the spirit also, like the body, has returned; and that after death its essence has come back to this world.

    “If we say that this reincarnation is for acquiring perfections so that matter may become refined and delicate, and that the light of the spirit may be manifest in it with the greatest perfection, this also is mere imagination. For, even supposing we believe in this argument, still change of nature is impossible through renewal and return. The essence of imperfection, by returning, does not become the reality of perfection; complete darkness, by returning, does not become the source of light; the essence of weakness is not transformed into power and might by returning, and an earthly nature does not become a heavenly reality. The tree of Zaqqum,(1) no matter how frequently it may come back, will not bring forth sweet fruit, and the good tree, no matter how often it may return, will not bear a bitter fruit. Therefore, it is evident that returning and coming back to the material world does not become the cause of perfection. This theory has no proofs nor evidences; it is simply an idea. No, in reality the cause of acquiring perfections is the bounty of God.

    “The Theosophists believe that man on the arc of ascent(2) will return many times until he reaches the Supreme Center; in that condition matter becomes a clear mirror, the light of the spirit will shine upon it with its full power, and essential perfection will be acquired. Now, this is an established and deep theological proposition, that the material worlds are terminated at the end of the arc of descent, and that the condition of man is at the end of the arc of descent, and at the beginning of the arc of ascent, which is opposite to the Supreme Center. Also, from the beginning to the end of the arc of ascent, there are numerous spiritual degrees. The arc of descent is called beginning,(3) and that of ascent is called progress.(4) The arc of descent ends in materialities, and the arc of ascent ends in spiritualities. The point of the compass in describing a circle makes no retrograde motion, for this would be contrary to the natural movement and the divine order; otherwise, the symmetry of the circle would be spoiled.

    “Moreover, this material world has not such value or such excellence that man, after having escaped from this cage, will desire a second time to fall into this snare. No, through the Eternal Bounty the worth and true ability of man becomes apparent and visible by traversing the degrees of existence, and not by returning. When the shell is once opened, it will be apparent and evident whether it contains a pearl or worthless matter. When once the plant has grown it will bring forth either thorns or flowers; there is no need for it to grow up again. Besides, advancing and moving in the worlds in a direct order according to the natural law is the cause of existence, and a movement contrary to the system and law of nature is the cause of nonexistence. The return of the soul after death is contrary to the natural movement, and opposed to the divine system.

    “Therefore, by returning, it is absolutely impossible to obtain existence; it is as if man, after being freed from the womb, should return to it a second time. Consider what a puerile imagination this is which is implied by the belief in reincarnation and transmigration. Believers in it consider the body as a vessel in which the spirit is contained, as water is contained in a cup; this water has been taken from one cup and poured into another. This is child's play. They do not realize that the spirit is an incorporeal being, and does not enter and come forth, but is only connected with the body as the sun is with the mirror. If it were thus, and the spirit by returning to this material world could pass through the degrees and attain to essential perfection, it would be better if God prolonged the life of the spirit in the material world until it had acquired perfections and graces; it then would not be necessary for it to taste of the cup of death, or to acquire a second life.

    “The idea that existence is restricted to this perishable world, and the denial of the existence of divine worlds, originally proceeded from the imaginations of certain believers in reincarnation; but the divine worlds are infinite. If the divine worlds culminated in this material world, creation would be futile: nay, existence would be pure child's play. The result of these endless beings, which is the noble existence of man, would come and go for a few days in this perishable dwelling, and after receiving punishments and rewards, at last all would become perfect. The divine creation and the infinite existing beings would be perfected and completed, and then the Divinity of the Lord, and the names and qualities of God, on behalf of these spiritual beings, would, as regards their effect, result in laziness and inaction! "Glory to thy Lord, the Lord Who is sanctified from all their descriptions."(5)

    “Such were the limited minds of the former philosophers, like Ptolemy and the others who believed and imagined that the world, life and existence were restricted to this terrestrial globe, and that this boundless space was confined within the nine spheres of heaven, and that all were empty and void. Consider how greatly their thoughts were limited and how weak their minds. Those who believe in reincarnation think that the spiritual worlds are restricted to the worlds of human imagination. Moreover, some of them, like the Druzes and the Nusayris, think that existence is restricted to this physical world. What an ignorant supposition! For in this universe of God, which appears in the most complete perfection, beauty and grandeur, the luminous stars of the material universe are innumerable! Then we must reflect how limitless and infinite are the spiritual worlds, which are the essential foundation. "Take heed ye who are endued with discernment."(6)
    [continues]
     
  7. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Baha'i

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    [continued]
    “But let us return to our subject. In the Divine Scriptures and Holy Books "return" is spoken of, but the ignorant have not understood the meaning, and those who believed in reincarnation have made conjectures on the subject. For what the divine Prophets meant by "return" is not the return of the essence, but that of the qualities; it is not the return of the Manifestation, but that of the perfections. In the Gospel it says that John, the son of Zacharias, is Elias. These words do not mean the return of the rational soul and personality of Elias in the body of John, but rather that the perfections and qualities of Elias were manifested and appeared in John.

    “A lamp shone in this room last night, and when tonight another lamp shines, we say the light of last night is again shining. Water flows from a fountain; then it ceases; and when it begins to flow a second time, we say this water is the same water flowing again; or we say this light is identical with the former light. It is the same with the spring of last year, when blossoms, flowers and sweet-scented herbs bloomed, and delicious fruits were brought forth; next year we say that those delicious fruits have come back, and those blossoms, flowers and blooms have returned and come again. This does not mean that exactly the same particles composing the flowers of last year have, after decomposition, been again combined and have then come back and returned. On the contrary, the meaning is that the delicacy, freshness, delicious perfume and wonderful color of the flowers of last year are visible and apparent in exactly the same manner in the flowers of this year. Briefly, this expression refers only to the resemblance and likeness which exist between the former and latter flowers. The "return" which is mentioned in the Divine Scriptures is this: it is fully explained by the Supreme Pen(7) in the Kitab-i-Iqan. Refer to it, so that you may be informed of the truth of the divine mysteries.

    "Upon you be greetings and praise.”

    [Footnotes:]
    1. The infernal tree mentioned in the Qur’án.
    2. i.e., of the Circle of Existence.
    3. Lit., bringing forth.
    4. Lit., producing something new.
    5. Cf. Qur’án 37:180.
    6. Qur’án 59:2.
    7. Bahá’u’lláh [Founder of the Baha’i Faith].

    --(Some Answered Questions, pp. 282-289)
     

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