In neighbourhoods across Toronto, Bahá’ís and their friends are striving to build a community that weaves together both the material and spiritual necessities of life. Their efforts are inspired by Bahá’u’lláh, whose teachings assert that, regardless of race, gender, class or creed, all humans are noble beings and have been created to contribute to the progress of society.
Bahá’í central figures
Who is Bahá’u’lláh?
Bahá’u’lláh was born in 1817 into an aristocratic family in Persia. Early in His life, He rejected the fortunes that awaited Him, stating, “I have never aspired after worldly leadership. My sole purpose hath been to hand down unto men that which I was bidden to deliver by God…”
In 1863, He declared that He had a new, divinely inspired message, one that would lay the foundation of prosperity for mankind. This foundation was gradually expressed in thousands of His verses, letters and books, all of which provide a framework for the development of a global civilization that accounts for both the spiritual and material dimensions of human life.
A space to study, reflect and consult
The process of building a community into a vibrant, spiritually enriched environment requires multiple spaces in which residents can study together and contribute their ideas and experience. One such space offered by Bahá’ís to the residents of Toronto is a reflection meeting. A reflection meeting is an opportunity for a group of people in a small geographic area to discuss the progress of the community-building activities that Bahá’ís and their friends have initiated, form a united vision and identify immediate steps forward.
Children and youth
The urge to make a difference
“I was sitting on the couch… about to watch my favorite movie. Then I heard the knocking on the door,” These are the words of 21-year-old Tristan, who has recently begun assisting with a junior youth group in Rowntree, a neighbourhood in Toronto close to Kipling and Finch Avenues.
When two people approached him and asked if he’d be interested in assisting with the program, he had some reservations. “At first, I saw them as the people who interrupted my movie,” he said. But they went on to explain that if he helped out, he could make a difference and be a role model. At the end of their conversation, Tristan agreed to meet them at 6 pm the next evening to check it out.
Children and youth
Integration of newcomer youth in society
The period of youth is a critical time in the life of an individual, during which one is undergoing tremendous change and taking on more responsibility. Many youth in Canada experience this stage of life as newcomers to this country. Young newcomers, in addition to the challenges faced by other youth, have the added task of learning the ways of a new country and culture. Individual Canadians, communities and social institutions have responsibilities to support the efforts of these youth to integrate into and participate in Canadian society.