New architecture and new music for a new audience
Tomorrow's post features a contemporary Requiem that replaces the Catholc liturgy with an eclectic selection of syncretic texts including one by Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í faith. The photo above was taken by me when I visited the Bahá'í Lotus Temple in New Delhi, which was designed by the Iranian-American architect Fariborz Sahba. The Bahá'í faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions; it is monotheistic and based on Revelations delivered by Bahá'u'lláh who was born in Tehran in 1817. Baha’i was the world's fastest-growing religion between 1910 and 2010; however the number of followers is still very small compared with the other great traditions. No definitive figures are available, but the total number of Bahá'í followers worldwide is estimated at 8 million. Because the Bahá'ís are considered heretical by orthodox Islam, members of the faith have suffered widespread persecution, particularly in Iran.
Sacred art is prized and music encouraged within the Bahá'í faith, and Bahá'u'lláh taught that 'We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high'. Among notable Bahá'í followers is the contemporary Norwegian composer Lasse Thoresen who has set Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, although he is not the composer of tomorrow's featured Requiem. Given the inclusive and unitarian nature of the religion it is surprising there are not more settings of the Bahá'í scriptures. Personally, I favour Krishnamurti's view that: "A belief is purely an individual matter, and you cannot and must not organize it. If you do, it becomes dead, crystallized; it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, to be imposed on others". However, when it comes to organised religions, the following Bahá'í beliefs make a lot of sense:
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All humanity is one family
Women and men are equal
All major religions come from God
Science and religion are in harmony
The independent investigation of truth
The family and its unity are very important
World peace is the crying need of our time
Our economic problems are linked to spiritual problems
All prejudice – racial, religious, national or economic – is destructive and must be overcome