Frequently Asked Questions

How does our Office approach our work? What do we mean when we talk about 'prevalent social discourses'?  How do Baha'is think about social issues, such as the environment? Why are Baha'is persecuted in places like Iran and Yemen? Find the answers here.

General Questions & Answers

What is a Bahá’í understanding of discourses?

Over the years, the Bahá’í community has come to refer to one aspect of its efforts to contribute to the advancement of civilization as participation in the discourses of society. At any given moment, and in social spaces at all levels of society, there are a range of ongoing discourses concerned with various aspects of humanity’s wellbeing and progress: discourses on such subjects as the equality of women and men, peace, governance, public health, and development, to name but a few. Bahá’ís—whether through their involvement in the life of the local community, their efforts of social action, or in the course of their studies, occupations, or professional activities—strive to participate fruitfully in such discourses, learning with and from others and offering their personal insights, informed by the Bahá’í teachings, to the unfolding discussions. Our Office of Public Affairs strives to contribute through various avenues to the promotion of ideas conducive to public welfare. At the international level, the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) is similarly engaged. The BIC is an international non-governmental organization, accredited with consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which represents all the National Spiritual Assemblies in the world. It is an active participant in many of the United Nation’s major conferences and commissions, frequently presenting papers and statements on such diverse subjects as minority rights, the status of women, crime prevention, and the welfare of children and the family. With offices in New York and Geneva, the BIC participates on a daily basis in the constant stream of forums, seminars and small group discussions taking place in those locations. The BIC is also coming to play a more active part in discussions at the regional level and, to this end, it is in the process of establishing new offices in cities throughout the world. One such office was opened in Brussels in 2012 to coordinate the efforts of Bahá’ís to work with and support European organizations including the European Union and Council of Europe.

What is the approach of your Office?

At whatever level, Bahá’ís strive to adopt a posture of learning and engage in genuine conversation and in a range of settings around the world are eager to share what they are learning in their efforts to apply Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings towards the advancement of civilization. Learning with and from other like-minded individuals and groups, the purpose of Bahá’í participation in discourses is not to persuade others to accept a Bahá’í position on this or that subject. Nor is effort in this area of endeavor pursued as a public relations activity or an academic exercise. As such, they do not set out to offer any specific solutions to the problems that face humanity such as climate change, women’s health, food production and poverty alleviation.

What is the Bahá’í Faith?

Bahá’ís believe the crucial need facing humanity is to find a unifying vision of the future of society and of the nature and purpose of life. Such a vision unfolds in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Bahá’u’lláh, the most recent of these Divine Educators, teaches that humanity is on a path to maturity, much like an individual who progresses through various stages of development. The current turmoil in the world can be viewed as humanity experiencing the turbulence of adolescence.

The writings of Bahá'u'lláh provide a wealth of spiritual teachings that assist us in progressing on this path towards maturity, and in building a peaceful and unified world.

Where can I find out more about the UK Bahá’í Community?

You can learn more about the UK Bahá’í Community on the Official National Page. The Offical Website of the Worldwide Baha'i Community can be found here.

How do you choose your focus areas?

Our Focus Areas represent discourses that we see to be particularly urgent and timely within British society. A regular and wide reading of social forces, societal issues and exigiencies across the UK allows us to discern areas of thought we can best contribute to over-time.

Based on Baha'i principles as well as the collective experience of the national UK Baha'i community, our Office chooses focus areas based on what we feel we can make a constructive contribution towards.

How can we collaborate and connect?

If you, or an organisation you work with, would like to collaborate with our Office, we encourage you to reach out. Central to our approach, is to learn alongside other individuals and groups across the UK to better respond to the needs of our time.

There are many ways we can work together, and we look forward to hearing from you!

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Persecution of the Bahá’ís

Why are Bahá’ís being persecuted in Iran?

Bahá’ís everywhere work for the betterment of society. In Iran, too, Bahá’ís strive to contribute to the peaceful development of their country. Unfortunately, the Iranian government has blocked them at every turn, solely because of their religious beliefs. Bahá’ís, who are Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, are routinely arrested, detained, and imprisoned. They are barred from holding government jobs, and their shops and other enterprises are routinely closed or discriminated against by officials at all levels. Young Bahá’ís are prevented from attending university, and those volunteer Bahá’í educators who have sought to fill that gap have been arrested and imprisoned. Why? The Bahá’í Faith began in 1844, post-dating Islam. Most members of the clergy in Iran therefore view the Bahá’í Faith as heresy, with many instigating and promoting hatred and persecution of the Bahá’ís since the Faith's inception. Some of the social teachings of the Bahá’í Faith are also seen as threatening to the clerical establishment in Iran- such as the tenet of full equality of women and men.. With no clergy, Bahá’ís believe each individual has the responsibility to investigate spiritual truth for themselves. Furthermore, the treatment of Bahá’ís in Iran is an example of scapegoating, a phenomenon that has occurred in many societies, in which ethnic or religious minorities are targeted in times of societal difficulties and are irrationally blamed for all manner of political, economic, and social problems. Find out more in this archival website, a repository for thousands of official documents, reports, testimonials, and audio-visual material, which reveal evidence of decades of relentless oppression and persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran.

What is the current situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran?

Following the Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979, members of the Bahá’í Faith—the largest religious minority in the country—have been subjected to a relentless campaign of persecution. This persecution has impacted the lives of generations, from young infants to the frail elderly.
In the words of the former-United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, Iranian Bahá’ís experience persecution “from the cradle to the grave, and beyond.” To find out more about the situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran, head to the Official Website of the Bahá’í International Community representative offices at the United Nations.

How do the Bahá’ís in Iran respond?

“Iranian Bahá’ís deeply love their homeland, despite all the suffering they have endured. Regardless of the restrictions imposed on them, they fulfil their spiritual and social responsibilities. Through participation in constructive discourse with neighbours, co-workers, friends and acquaintances, they nonetheless continue to contribute to the advancement of their nation and its people.” Read more about the way Bahá’ís in Iran are combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatisation, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief here.

What is the response of the Bahá’í International Community?

Because Iranian Bahá’ís are unable to speak out internationally, the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) acts as the official outlet for information on the situation of Iranian Bahá’ís. They seek to use all available international mechanisms to call attention to their plight. Such efforts include advocacy and support of resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council and in the General Assembly, cooperation with other human rights NGOs, and outreach to the international news media, along with the coordination of various campaigns to raise awareness about the ongoing human rights violations against Iran’s peaceful and nonviolent Bahá’í community.

What is happening to the Bahá’ís in Qatar?

Concerned by systematic attempts over many years by Qatari authorities to blacklist and deport Bahá’ís from Qatar, the Bahá’í Interantioanl Community(BIC) raised the matter before the Human Rights Council on 15 March 2021 to end the pattern of discrmination and uphold its human rights committments. “This pattern of deportation is tantamount to religious cleansing—if it continues, an entire religious community could be erased in a few years,” said Bani Dugal, the BIC's Principal Representative to the United Nations. The Bahá’í community of Qatar and the BIC have previously raised these cases with Qatari officials and Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee. The authorities have alleged without evidence to UN Special Rapporteurs and diplomats, who had raised concerns, that these cases are unrelated to each other and had each been a national security concern.

Why are Bahá’ís being persecuted in Yemen?

In recent years, the Bahá’í community of Yemen has been facing persecution by the authorities in Sana’a, Yemen. Incidents have included arrests, arbitrary detentions, and imprisonments. The Yemeni Bahá’í community traces its roots to the inception of the Bahá’í Faith in the mid-nineteenth century. In recent decades, the number of Bahá’ís has grown as various segments of Yemeni society have learned about and become attracted to the Bahá’í teachings. For official reports, recent updates and related documents and articles click here Read more of the historical background of the persecutions in Yemen here

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