The Baha’i faith is a complex and rich one, despite being one of the most recent to be revealed. It was founded in the mid-1800s by Bahá’u’lláh, who was born in Persia. Local government did not like his message to the world, and he was imprisoned for most of his adult life, being moved around from place to place until his death in Bahji, Israel in 1892. His son, Abdu’l-Bahá, was appointed his successor and the authorized interpreter of Bahá’u’lláh. Abdu’l-Bahá travelled over the world, unifying the Baha’i faithful, and in 1912 he visited and stayed at the Dublin Inn in Dublin, New Hampshire.
The Baha’i faith centers around prayer and personal devotion. There is an expectation that daily prayers will be said, at least once per day and sometimes three or more times. The main doctrines are simple and were plainly set out by Bahá’u’lláh before his death. Baha’is:
- are expected to give up prejudices,
- believe firmly in the equality of all people regardless of gender, skin color, age, etc.
- have a personal understanding that religious truth is not a hard and unyielding thing, but instead that it has been revealed in parts by a series of Messengers from God, among whom Bahá’u’lláh is the most recent,
- desire to see the elimination of poverty and the universality of education,
- require their members to work dilligently to explore the truth for themselves,
- wish to establish a commonwealth of nations that work together in unity, and
- recognize that true religion is in harmony with science and scientific research.
The Dublin Inn is owned by the Baha’i Historical Society and is currently maintained by Ruthie and Phil Gammons. They have worked to restore parts of the building itself, as well as bringing in period furniture and modern Baha’i artwork. One of the rooms contains a beautiful hand-sewn quilt that bears the emobroidered names of martyred Baha’i women in the Middle East who died in the cause of their religion as well as for educating young women in their country.
The room in which Abdu’l-Baha is believed to have stayed when visiting the Inn is on the top floor. It is a quiet place, containing a couch and chair, some sedate images on the wall, and a few examples of Bahá’u’lláh’s writing. Down the hall is a small library containing many religious books, including those of Bahá’u’lláh.
The community of Baha’is in Dublin, New Hampshire, is close knit and friendly. They welcome anyone and everyone to join in their religious celebrations. The devotional gatherings are quiet, filled with both silent and spoken prayer. Baha’is do not have clergy, but there are faciliatators for the various events that happen throughout their liturgical year. They do not take collection, because only Baha’is are permitted to contribute to their fund. As Ruthie Gammons put it, “Our devotional gatherings tend to be informal, with a sense of reverence but no rituals. There is often music, we provide some readings, we encourage others to read from the holy scriptures of their own religious traditions, but no testifying or proselytizing is allowed.” (e-mail communication, Feb. 11, 2012)
Those interested in learning more about the Baha’i faith are encouraged to look at the following websites, which also provide links to much accurate information.
If you’d like to talk directly to Ruthie or Phil Gammons, you may reach them at (603) 563-8809 most days between 9:00 a. m. and 6:00 p. m.
If you’re interested in learning more about prayer, or reading about local prayer events in Keene and the surrounding area, subscribe to this column by clicking the “subscribe” button above. If you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below, or by e-mailing Rev. Allyson at email@example.com.