Baha’i activities, Baha’i friendship for what?

Hi, I’m new to this but I wanted to speak about my recent experiences with the local Baha’i cluster, their activities and how I lost most of my friends after I decided to stop participating in their events.

Firstly, I wanted to mention that I’m an atheist, I always have been and I imagine I always will be. I’m not sure if any of them knew that then, and I wonder if that played a role in how they treat me now. Although I dislike religion and what my friends did over the past year, I was never traumatised or severely upset by anything that happened and I can’t say I dislike any of these friends even if I disagree with them now.

At the start of 2016, my close friend invited me to a youth gathering which she described was for “community building activities” and “empowering youth,” with absolutely no mention of any religious component. I attended, we only discussed the societal potential of young people and by the end of the day some older youth I met had already signed me up to start the Ruhi Institute books despite the fact that I’d never heard of them and they didn’t show them to us or tell us what they were about.

I continued meeting with my new friends throughout the year because I enjoyed their company and learning about their work, but each time our conversations about community and youth would become slightly less secular and eventually all we talked about was in context of the Baha’i faith. Nobody was forcing me to participate, but there was a LOT of manipulation and pressuring on their behalf from the beginning, which sadly I chose to overlook.

Amongst the possibly hundreds of people I met in the year, there were about 10 people around my age who I became particularly close to. We often had meals together, met outside of school and on weekends just to hang out together as we enjoyed each other’s company. I had a lot of fun with these people and I was frequently invited to join them whenever they met, which I appreciated because it made me feel included and important for once.

At different stages in 2016, but particularly towards the end of the year, we (the non-Bahai’s who were a part of the cluster) were expected to attend several Ruhi study circles and devotionals a week, go to regular Institute camps, have our own Junior Youth groups or Baha’i Children’s Classes, regularly doorknock and attempt to involve our friends, classmates and any strangers we encountered in our activities. Although I wasn’t bothered by the frequency of these things, as someone who is strongly against religious proselytizing I decided it was time for me to withdraw once and for all. I told my friend (also a non-Baha’i in the group, who is one of the 1 or 2 who I think genuinely cares for me) I didn’t want to be a part of cluster activities anymore. She said she’d let the others know, and that marked the end of my year working with the Baha’is in my city.

Since then, December of last year, I barely socialise in groups outside of school. I’m not particularly bothered by this since I like to be alone, but it feels strange after a year filled with things to do every week. I’ve been invited to one or two casual catch-ups since, but recently I’ve tried to organise my own with four individual people from this group and every single time I was told they were busy, not available, etc., and even though I know they don’t owe me their time, it’s very clear to me that they are making an active choice to not see me. I think they see me as an apostate and somehow threatening to them, or at the very least they have realised that I’m not receptive to their religion and I refuse to spread it for them, so they don’t have a use for me anymore. I love my friends, but I have to say their behaviour could be quite pathetic at times and I’ve always just felt sorry for them when they talk about the Baha’i faith. I’m sure they must have been furious when I left abruptly since they used up so much of their time and resources on me, but the only thing I feel bad about is allowing myself to be manipulated for an entire year.

That’s all. I’m not sure if many people frequent this subreddit, but I’d appreciate some feedback, opinions, any commentary really. There’s nobody I can really speak to about this since nobody I know in person can relate. Have any of you experienced something similar to this? What do you think?

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About imranshaykh
I am a student of comparative religion with a special interest in Islam and The Bahai Faith

10 Responses to Baha’i activities, Baha’i friendship for what?

  1. Mandy Jennings says:

    is there a link to the original source of this article?

  2. Lisa says:

    I think the only way you will know is to ask. The Baha’is who are active in the Faith are often extremely busy with Baha’i related activities, so that may be a legitimate reason. They also might feel your rejection of the Faith as a personal rejection of them. When your religion becomes an integral part of your identity it’s often difficult to separate the two. I hope that helps. Good luck to you.

    • imranshaykh says:

      Dear Lisa:

      I would have bought that argument except that the shunning is a legitimate activity which has legal sanctity from the UHJ. The edict to shun and ostracise individuals has the blessings of the UHJ. Dont believe otherwise.

      Regards
      Imran

  3. LIsa Johnson says:

    I am a Baha’i and very proud to be for 36 years and at 11 years old it was my own choice to accept the teachings of Baha’ullah. It’s the people that haven’t matured to a level of what it means to be a Baha’i. Just as in Christianity, Islam and in many other world religions there are people that don’t practice or know how to practice the teachings of their faith and how many people use religion to fuel their own hatred; Mankind is still behind in it’s maturity. Love everyone like God does.

    • imranshaykh says:

      Dear Lisa:

      Thank you for your response to my article. Religion is a personal choice, no doubt. However it should be based on some rationale and wisdom, else it becomes blind faith which is condemned by all including the Bahai Faith.

      Bahai Faith should ask what maturity is required to understand the teachings of the Bahai Faith. If it is a Universal Religion as it claims and it is 200 years old why are there so many contradictions between the teachings of the Faith and behaviour of the Founders. The Faith talks about Unity, yet we find that Abdul Baha and Shoghi were unable to keep their own family together. Everyone without exceptions was disowned. What maturity does one need to understand this anomaly?

      Or at another place, we find that while the Faith talks about having no clergy. Yet the UHJ is no less than a Big Brother who is trigger happy to issue edicts to label anyone as a covenant breaker, who decides what people should read, not read, do , not do etc.

      Dear Lisa, it is very easy to label anyone as immature. It is very difficult to defend the Bahai Faith. The gaps and omissions are very obvious.

      I am happy to discuss anytime.

      Warm regards
      Imran

  4. habib says:

    There is no god but Allah, and prophet Mohammad is his messenger. I m a muslim, and the same situation I faced. One of my bahai friend invited me to their weekly gathering, telling me that the gathering is about social welfare. I visited bahai house, thrice. People there were very cooperative. In their gathering I noticed some touch of religious discussion. Some of their discussion was criticizing the teachings of Islam. I realised that something is going wrong. Actually they were exercising their faith teachings from printed pages, given to us for reading. In the third visit I saw a poster, a message of bahaullah was written on it. The name of bahaullah was also mentioned there. I asked my bahai friend, ‘who is bahaullah’. He told me that I will tell u later, but he didn’t. After coming home I searched the name bahaullah on internet. Then I realised there tricks. Then I stopped meeting my bahai friend. The bahais invited me many times, but I rejected. I believe in one Allah and the teachings of prophet Mohammad, and there is no need to accept other religions, because Islam is not just a religion but a code of living peace ful life. Many people are defaming Islam, but who want to know about Islam, I request them to study Quran by their own.

  5. AK says:

    They are not your friends duh lol

  6. yokwerx says:

    Bit of a late response – but here goes:
    People can be kept so busy in the Baha’i Faith. Especially if you are involved in teaching – and by that I mean the devotionals/children’s classes/junior youth/study circles etc. Always pressure (much from oneself) to do more. Many Baha’is see this as adhering to the teachings and it takes a savvy mind (or tiredness) to say “enough”. Additionally, it’s very hard, when you know of Baha’is – possibly friends or family members – that have unjustly suffered or are suffering because of their beliefs. “Crisis and Victory” is a much used motto.
    I think it’s so easy (and too easy) for young Baha’is to get caught up in all of this – to want to do more and, in effect, hand over their lives to the cause. Everything else becomes secondary. But it shouldn’t.
    I would say try to remain in contact. Some of these “souls” are, one day, going to realise that the faith is not a beautiful flower. They will see it for what it really is: an authoritarian movement devoted to a god that doesn’t exist. Took me 20 years. My advice is to try and stay in contact. They will probably need someone like you to turn to one of these days…

  7. Carol says:

    I’m so sorry that your experience was like this. One of the most essential aspects of the Baha’I Faith is independent investigation of the truth. If the Baha’i Faith didn’t ring true to you, then that is that. The teachings of the Faith exhort its followers to consort freely with people of all backgrounds, without any hint of bias. Like any faith, there can be disparities between a believer’s actions and the actual teachings of their faith. All good wishes to you on your journey. If you ever wish to learn more, but feel negative about reconnecting with the youth you interfaced with, you might consider contacting the local spiritual assembly for your locality to consult with them. These assemblies do not just serve the Baha’I community of their locality, but have as their task service to all who live there.

    • imranshaykh says:

      Dear Carol:

      I feel for you. You have obviously been exposed to the “sweet” visible side of the Bahai Faith with little or no exposure to Bahai scriptures. Please do take some time to read the notes on my web site on the 12 Principles – this is available on the homepage pf http://www.bahaiawareness.com. The direct link to the section on Independent Investigation of Truth is available on: http://www.bahaiawareness.com/independent-investigation-of-truth.html

      Do read the entire site.

      Thanks,
      Imran

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