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Religion Library: Baha'i

Sacred Time

Written by: Moojan Momen

The most important period of sacred time in the annual calendar is the Festival of Ridvan (pronounced "Rezvaan"), which is a twelve-day period (April 21 - May 2) commemorating Baha'u'llah's declaration of his mission  in Baghdad in 1863. The first, ninth, and twelfth day of this period are among the nine holy days. All Baha'i elections, at the local, national, and international level are usually held in this period.

All those Baha'is who have the financial means and are not barred in any other way are obliged to perform a pilgrimage. Pilgrimage is a sacred time to be used for spiritual renewal. Another period that is of particular significance as a time for spiritual renewal is the nineteen days of the Baha'i Fast (March 2-20). For each Baha'i, the day also has certain periods marked out as sacred time: the time set aside for the obligatory prayers, for meditation, and for reading the scriptures.

In a sense, however, the Bab and Baha'u'llah wanted their followers to transform as much of their time as possible into sacred time. For example, Baha'u'llah states that some activities usually considered secular, such as parenting and one's occupation, should be consecrated to God and be performed in service to humanity, thus transforming them into acts of worship and bringing them into sacred time. With spiritual discipline and training, it becomes possible to spend more and more of one's life in that spiritual world which is the divine presence, thus transforming secular or profane time into sacred time. This can be done without isolating oneself in monastic or ascetic environments and without neglecting one's social and family responsibilities; indeed those very activities assist individual human beings in their spiritual progress.

Study Questions:
     1.    How do Baha'is look at humanity’s history?
     2.    What gathering is the foundation of Baha'i community life and what happens at this gathering?
     3.    How many Baha'i holy days are there and which are the most important?
     4.    In what way does secular time become sacred time for a Baha’i?


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