“All that is in heaven and earth I have ordained for thee, except the human heart, which I have made the habitation of My beauty and glory…”1
With the passage of time, more and more people are discovering in the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh a compelling vision of a better world and a source of profound insights into the principles that must guide efforts aiming at its realization. Many decide to go further and examine the Bahá’í Faith as a religion. In so doing, they explore its explanation of issues related to human nature, its description of the way God guides humanity, its statements on the purpose of life in this plane of existence and on the nature of life after death, and its precepts related to individual and collective devotional life. And, of course, they also acquaint themselves with its sacred texts and laws, and the principles and rules governing its administration. Acceptance of these and similar elements opens the way for them to participate in a dynamic community life that is dedicated to translating Bahá’u’lláh’s Teachings into reality.
It is natural that Bahá’ís would wish to share their religious beliefs with others and, should any person feel within his or her heart the spark of faith, he or she is welcome—indeed, is invited—to become an active member of the Bahá’í community, contributing to its continuing growth and vibrancy. However, common conceptions of words such as “conversion” do not apply to this process and proselytization is forbidden in the Bahá’í Faith.
In this light, when a Bahá’í shares his or her beliefs with another, the act is not an attempt to convince or otherwise prove a particular point. It is an expression of a sincere desire to engage in meaningful conversation about fundamental issues of existence, to seek truth, and to remove misconceptions. “If ye be aware of a certain truth”, Bahá’u’lláh has stated, “if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and goodwill. If it be accepted, if it fulfill its purpose, your object is attained. If anyone should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him.”2
Expressions of belief alone, however, are not sufficient for building a better world—focused action is also needed. Bahá’u’lláh writes: “It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action”.3 Therefore, Bahá’ís strive to participate fully in the life of society, working shoulder to shoulder with diverse groups in a wide variety of settings to contribute to the social, material, and spiritual advancement of civilization. Whatever the particular form that these efforts take, the participation of Bahá’ís is motivated by concern for the common good and a spirit of disinterested and humble service to humanity.