Serving Communities

Our South African Bahá’í community, like many other communities across the world, is diverse, bringing together people of different ages and experiences, cultures and religions, various family backgrounds, living in villages and urban centres. Regardless of our varied circumstances, we aspire in collaboration with our like-minded friends and neighbours, to contribute to a materially and spiritually prosperous community, based on principles such as justice and the oneness of mankind.

Every South African has both the right and duty to contribute to the progress of our society. By selflessly helping others we realize the possibility for both personal growth and the development of our community. The Bahá’í Writings say “Service to humanity is service to God”. Infusing a spirit of service in our education, work, family, leisure and spiritual life, allows us to avoid a fragmented approach to living, and helps us work towards a life in which these aspects compliment one another.

We recognize that our efforts in transforming our community are influenced by various social forces. Some cause the destruction of society, while others contribute towards building it. Negative forces such as materialism, prejudice and apathy impede individual and collective growth, while positive forces such as the desire for knowledge, aspiring for change, and strong belief in the importance of family, significantly advance our community. In our efforts to contribute to the transformation of our community we draw on the spiritual and constructive social forces that help to build our society.

Knowledge is the greatest key to unlocking human potential. Baha'is and their friends, inspired by the teachings of Baha’u’llah, engage in an educational process that is proving to be a powerful tool for building vibrant and prosperous communities around the world.

Education and Community Building

As South Africans we place significant value on the importance of education as the means for growth and prosperity. Each of us is like “a mine rich in gems of inestimable value” and to reveal our unique treasures, we need to acquire three types of education: material, human and spiritual education. Material education is concerned with our physical development and human education is about civilization and progress. These have predominantly received attention in our society. Essential to our progress is giving more focus to our spiritual education that helps us attain divine perfections and fully contribute to shaping the fortunes of our community.

The Bahá’í writings say “Material civilization is like unto a lamp, while the spiritual civilization is the light in that lamp. If the spiritual and material civilizations become united, then we will have the light and the lamp together, and the outcome will be perfect”.

Bahá’ís along with friends and neighbours hold gatherings that strengthen the spiritual life of our community, engage in classes that nurture the hearts and minds of children, facilitate activities that channel the energies of our younger youth towards participating meaningfully in the affairs of our community and join circles of study that enable people from varied backgrounds to advance on equal footing and explore the implications of the Holy Writings in our lives. Examples of actions that the Baha'is of South Africa together with their friends and neighbours have taken in their homes, neighborhoods and community spaces contributing to the spiritual and material progress of our community are shared in the stories titled: Themba teaches the children; Advancing our neighbourhood; and Patricia and Julia walk together on a path of service.