A Bahá’í Open Day was held on Saturday, 10th September 2011, at the Michaelhouse Centre, Trinity Street, Cambridge. The theme of the event was Unity reflecting the teaching of the Baha’i Faith that ‘The Earth is One Country and Mankind its Citizens.’ The event included an exhibition, short talk, live music and a children’s peace project. The Mayor and Mayoress of Cambridge attended at 11 am.
The Bahá’ís of Cambridge are part of a worldwide community of around five million Bahá’ís, representative of almost all of the races and cultures on earth; and the Bahá’í Faith holds NGO status at the United Nations.
The purpose of the Bahá’í Faith is to bring together in unity people of diverse nations, races, cultures, religions, and schools of thought. The spiritual teachings which can bring about this unity-of-hearts were brought by the Founders of all the major world religions, but the need for world unity was particularly emphasised by Bahá’u’llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith. At his short address to the participants at the Open Day, the Mayor commended the work that the Baha’i community was doing in help bringing this about.
Bahá’u’lláh was born in 1817 in Persia, or modern-day Iran. As He started to teach His message He was imprisoned, and exiled from country to country, eventually arriving as a prisoner in the city of Akká – now in Israel – where He remained until His death in 1892. Bahá’u’lláh suffered for most of his life. Yet from his prison-cell he sought to eliminate religious and racial prejudice and to uplift the banner of the oneness of humanity.
Bahá’u’lláh’s son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who had been imprisoned with his father from the age of nine, was finally released in old age and allowed to travel and visited the UK in 1911. His first ever public address was on Sunday September 10th 1911, exactly one hundred years to the day before the event in Cambridge. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá delivered an address at the City Temple Church in London. These were some of his words:
‘This is a new cycle of human power… It is the hour of unity of the sons of men and of the drawing together of all races and all classes. You are loosed from ancient superstitions which have kept men ignorant, destroying the foundation of true humanity…. The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion.’
Of interest to Cambridge residents, a screening of the film ‘An encounter with Bahá’u’lláh’, relating the meeting in 1890 between Cambridge Professor and Orientalist E.G. Browne and Bahá’u’lláh was also screened at the Open Day.