The Bahá’í faith is one of the youngest of the world’s major religions. It was founded by Bahá’u’lláh in Iran in 1863.
Iran was then mainly a Muslim country, and the faith was proclaimed by a young Iranian, who called himself The Báb. He said that a messenger would soon arrive from God, who would be the latest in a line of prophets including Moses, Muhammad and Jesus Christ.
~Bahá’u’lláh, which means the Glory of God in Arabic, was born Mirza Husayn Ali in 1817 ~Bahá’ís believe that Bahá’u’lláh is the most recent Manifestation of God ~Bahá’u’lláh himself stated that he is not God’s final messenger ~The Bahá’í faith accepts all religions as having true and valid origins ~The idea of progressive revelation is of central significance for the Bahá’í faith ~Bahá’u’lláh taught that God intervenes throughout human history at different times to reveal more of himself through his messengers (called Divine Messengers, or Manifestations of God) ~The central idea of the faith is that of unity. They believe that people should work together for the common benefit of humanity ~The followers of Bahá’u’lláh were descended from the Bábis – believers in the Báb who foretold the mission of Bahá’u’lláh.
There are 6 million Bahá’ís in the world, in 235 countries and around 6,000 live in Britain.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith is a mental attitude, so inwardly embodied that the mind can no longer deny it. This is in accord with the teachings of Jesus: that when we pray, we must believe we already have the answer to our prayer.
The essence of Shinto is the Japanese devotion to invisible spiritual beings and powers called kami, to shrines, and to various rituals.
Shinto is not a way of explaining the world. What matters are rituals that enable human beings to communicate with kami.
Kami are not God or gods. They are spirits that are concerned with human beings – they appreciate our interest in them and want us to be happy – and if they are treated properly they will intervene in our lives to bring benefits like health, business success, and good exam results.
Shinto is a very local religion, in which devotees are likely to be concerned with their local shrine rather than the religion as a whole. Many Japanese will have a tiny shrine-altar in their homes.
However, it is also an unofficial national religion with shrines that draw visitors from across the country. Because ritual rather than belief is at the heart of Shinto, Japanese people don’t usually think of Shinto specifically as a religion – it’s simply an aspect of Japanese life. This has enabled Shinto to coexist happily with Buddhism for centuries.
~The name Shinto comes from Chinese characters for Shen (‘divine being’), and Tao (‘way’) and means ‘Way of the Spirits’. ~Shrine visiting and taking part in festivals play a great part in binding local communities together. ~Shrine visiting at New Year is the most popular shared national event in Japan. ~Because Shinto is focused on the land of Japan it is clearly an ethnic religion. Therefore Shinto is little interested in missionary work, and rarely practised outside its country of origin. ~Shinto sees human beings as basically good and has no concept of original sin, or of humanity as ‘fallen’. ~Everything, including the spiritual, is experienced as part of this world. ~Shinto has no place for any transcendental other world. ~Shinto has no canonical scriptures. ~Shinto teaches important ethical principles but has no commandments. ~Shinto has no founder. ~Shinto has no God. ~Shinto does not require adherents to follow it as their only religion.