What We Do
From a Bahá’í perspective, the efforts to transform both one’s own character and to transform society are inseparable. Life is meant to be lived in harmony with other human beings, not in isolation.
Bahá’í community life is one of collective devotion, mutual support and group effort in advancing the causes of justice, peace and unity.
Our community life revolves around 19-day cycles that include feasts, devotional gatherings, holy day commemorations and community service. But it also revolves around the daily efforts to improve one's character and to effect meaningful change in the world.
This two-fold purpose – to become better people and contribute to an ever-advancing civilization – informs the personal and social lives of Bahá’ís.
Every day, Bahá’ís pray and reflect, but they also strive to turn prayer and reflection into action.
For example, they reflect upon Bahá’u’lláh’s injunction to “breathe not the sins of others” and make an effort to avoid backbiting. They reflect and seek to act upon the teaching that work is worship when carried out in a spirit of service. In these and a multitude of other ways, Bahá’ís aspire to make themselves and the world better - little by little, day by day.
In striving for transformation, Bahá’ís make no claim that their community is perfect. We are all learning to put Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings into practice.
The Universal House of Justice, the elected governing body of the Bahá’í Faith, describes the worldwide community in the following way:
"The community to which (Bahá’ís) belong is one of learning and action, free from any sense of superiority or claim to exclusive understanding of truth. It is a community that strives to cultivate hope for the future of humanity, to foster purposeful effort, and to celebrate the endeavours of all those in the world who work to promote unity and alleviate human suffering.”
Bahá’ís work to promote unity and alleviate human suffering in many different ways throughout the world. High-profile examples include the formation of NGOs that advance the education of girls or defend the rights of immigrants.
The Baha’i International Community registered with the UN as an non-governmental organization in 1948. Its main focus areas on the international stage are
- the equality of women and men
- human rights
- religion in society
- the situation of the Baha’is in Iran
The BIC has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social council (ECOSOC) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Social Action in the Community
In the past decade, at the community level, Bahá’ís have concentrated on four core activities designed to improve their own capacity to serve and also to advance the wider communities in which they live:
Devotional Gatherings, which bring together people of all faiths in common worship, underscoring the essential unity of peoples and religions;
Study Circles, in which Bahá’ís and others learn to apply spiritual principles to the tasks of fostering justice, prosperity, peace and unity;
Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Programs, which help young people between the ages of 11 and 15 develop their powers of expression, their ability to solve problems and their capacity to be of service to humanity;
Children's classes, which help children develop their capacity to make sound moral choices and prepare them to eventually assume responsibility for their own spiritual development.
A Bahá’í from Nova Scotia and a child from St. John's at the Newfoundland Bahá’í Summer School. The education of children is one of the main priorities of the Bahá’í community