Did you know the Baha’i faith has no clergy? That although it came from Islam, its members are not Muslims? And that you can’t be born a Baha’i?
Those are all common misconceptions about the faith, says Payam Towfigh, a member of the local Baha’i community.
"We are not a well-known faith here in Winnipeg," Towfigh said of the roughly 300 Baha’is in the city.
Winnipeggers who want to know more about the faith will have an opportunity Jan. 22, 7 p.m., at the Baha’i Centre at 521 McMillan Ave.
The event, sponsored by the Manitoba Multifaith Council, is one of three education evenings being held to introduce some of the lesser-known faith groups in Winnipeg.
The second event will be held Feb. 12 and explore the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. The third will be about Sikhism (date to be announced).
For Ruth Ashrafi of the Multifaith Council, the events are an effort to "help people of different faiths to get to know each other."
"It’s so easy to live on our own religious islands," she added. "This is an opportunity to get off our islands, to visit other islands."
Afrashi, a member of Shaarey Zedek synagogue, hopes as a result of the events — which are being planned as conversations, not lectures — people will "learn more about the history and beliefs of different faiths, and how they shape the daily life of their members."
As well, she hopes people will "make new friends."
"We all have stake in building the kind of community we want to live in," she said.
"One way to do that is learn more about each other."
Towfigh feels the same way.
"This is a good opportunity for us not only to share about our faith, but to make new connections in the city," he said.
Events like this are very much in keeping with the spirit of the Baha’i faith to be "world-embracing," he shared, adding: "It will be great to connect with people from other faiths to see what we can learn about each other and how we can collaborate to serve the community."
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
The Free Press acknowledges the financial support it receives from members of the city’s faith community, which makes our coverage of religion possible.