- Baha’is believe in the power of prayer and you’ll find Baha’is and their friends, throughout the world, getting together to pray. This is often referred to as a ‘devotional gathering’ or ‘devotional meeting’, and they happen in diverse settings, whether in cities or villages.
As a content creator, I’ve always been fascinated by human behaviour and the way our minds works. Boy, do our idiosyncrasies make great storylines!
In addition to my content work, I graduated as a solution-focused coach a few months ago. Purpose-oriented coaching concentrates on what is possible and helps people identify creative solutions to reach goals. It offers tools for better interactions with ourselves and the people around us–be it a colleague, a family member, or a future spouse.
With all this in mind, when the Ruhi Institute released the first unit of Book 12, which is titled “The Institution of Marriage”, I searched for a study circle to join and our lovely group is about halfway through the material.
The book’s various topics have sparked new ideas for my content creation, coaching, and upcoming courtship(s). We are living in a confusing era of endless swiping on dating apps, being ghosted without much explanation, and a selection of random “situationships”. I have found that the book’s insights act as a North Star.
Time to Get Curious
Here are some aspects that stand out for me in the Baha’i approach to love, dating, and marriage skills. The first has to do with knowing yourself. For me personally, it’s the cornerstone of any relationship work–I mean, you’re stuck with yourself throughout your entire life!
According to Baha’u’llah:
“The first Taraz and the first effulgence which hath dawned from the horizon of the Mother Book is that man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty.” 1
“True loss is for him whose days have been spent in utter ignorance of his self.” 2
Getting to know yourself and working on your personal development is an asset everyone benefits from. Becoming aware of your behavioral patterns, tendencies, personality traits and perhaps past traumas and childhood events enhances any relationship in your life. I think that learning about self-management and how to cope with our emotions and stress is so important that it should be taught in schools! Until such a day, I’m just really happy that knowledge of self is part of this Ruhi book.
Of course, the Baha’i Teachings also emphasize getting to know your potential partner’s character as well.
“Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity.” 3Abdu’l-Baha
The Moral Duty to Consider
In one of the most referred to quotations on marriage, Baha’u’llah says:
“And when He desired to manifest grace and beneficence to men, and to set the world in order, He revealed observances and created laws; among them He established the law of marriage, made it as a fortress for well-being and salvation, and enjoined it upon us in that which was sent down out of the heaven of sanctity in His Most Holy Book. He saith, great is His glory: ‘Enter into wedlock, O people, that ye may bring forth one who will make mention of Me amid My servants. This is My bidding unto you; hold fast to it as an assistance to yourselves.’” 4
Although Baha’u’llah’s counsel to enter into wedlock is directed at the individual, it has far-reaching implications for society-building. In my mind, this is the most revolutionary aspect of the Baha’i method of navigating romantic relationships: realizing that marriage and courtship aren’t just personal choices. Instead, they affect our communities.
How? Shoghi Effendi explains this in two letters written on his behalf:
“For Baha’u’llah explicitly reveals in His Book of Laws that the very purpose of marriage is the procreation of children who, when grown up, will be able to know God and to recognize and observe His Commandments and Laws as revealed through His Messengers. Marriage is thus, according to the Baha’i Teachings, primarily a social and moral act.” 5
“The Baha’i Teachings do not only encourage marital life […] but raise marriage to the status of a divine institution, its chief and sacred purpose being the perpetuation of the human race—which is the very flower of the entire creation—and its elevation to the true station destined for it by God.” 6
In light of the Baha’i teachings, marriage is highly recommended, but it’s not an obligation nor the central purpose of anyone’s life. According to my understanding, it’s each person’s moral duty to consider this fortress of well-being. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual to decide for themselves if they want to give it a go or not.
My biggest takeaway from studying the first unit of Book 12 is that healthy marriages and family life are the bedrock of society. They are the pillars of community life. In the words of Abdu’l-Baha:
“This is in truth a Baha’i house. Every time such a house . . . is founded it becomes one of the greatest aids to the general development of the town and country to which it belongs. It encourages the growth of learning and science and is known for its intense spirituality and for the love it spreads among the peoples.” 7
- Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah Revealed After the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 34–35
- Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 156
- Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, no. 86.1, p. 167
- Baha’u’llah, in Baha’i Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Baha’u’llah, the Bab, and Abdu’l- Baha (Wilmette: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 2002, 2017 printing), p. 116
- From a letter dated 14 October 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, published in Lights of Guidance: A Baha’i Reference File (New Delhi: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1988, 2010 printing), no. 1160, p. 346; also in Family Life: A Compilation of Extracts from the Baha’i Writings and from Letters Written by and on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice (Wilmette: Baha’i Publishing, 2008, 2018 printing), no. 21, p. 9
- From a letter dated 15 April 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, published in Lights of Guidance, no. 950, p. 283 and no. 1262, p. 378; also in “Selections from Baha’i Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters”, published in The Compilation of Compilations (Maryborough: Baha’i Publications Australia, 1991), vol. 1, no. 1068, p. 479; and also in “Preserving Baha’i Marriages”, published in The Compilation of Compilations (Maryborough: Baha’i Publications Australia, 1991), vol. 2, no. 2316, p. 446
- From a talk given by Abdu’l-Baha on 6 November 1911, published in Paris Talks, no. 24.1, p. 83
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