The Irfan Forum is an agency of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States dedicated to the comprehensive study of Baha’i history, Baha’i authoritative texts, the Baha’i understanding of other religions, and Baha’i theological and philosophical topics. The Forum fosters scholarship on the same topics via online courses, seminars, webinars, conferences, and web publications. The programs are designed to facilitate reflection, consultation, and action leading to deeper understanding, personal transformation, and collective action for the common good.
- The Baha’i Faith’s authoritative texts (the revelations of Baha’u’llah and of His predecessor, the Bab; the divinely inspired interpretations of His son, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and of the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, Shoghi Effendi; and the divinely guided messages of the Universal House of Justice) collectively form a unified and complementary whole. Study of them should be an ongoing focus of daily life and the subject of continuous and increasingly sophisticated investigation by everyone.
- Baha’i history is an important context for understanding the Baha’i authoritative texts and must be studied in its own right.
- Exploration of Baha’i history and authoritative texts are dependent on the “first and foremost gift” of God to humanity, the “gift of understanding,” i.e., that humans are rational beings. One implication of this is that all races, ethnic groups, and genders are equally capable of advancement and are equally worthy of respect, inclusion, and participation in building a common understanding of the Baha’i Faith and the civilization it seeks to create.
- Both religion and the natural world are rationally ordered and therefore science and religion are ultimately in harmony; both can be examined comparatively, critically, and analytically; both are essential for building an ever-advancing civilization.
- Religion exists to connect individuals to their Creator, improve their spiritual and ethical life, and to guide human development positively and progressively over time.
- Human civilization, through its crises and struggles, is moving toward the creation of ever larger and more sophisticated communities, and today humanity needs to build a global society based on principles capable of creating a just and prosperous world civilization.
The Forum seeks to promote study, research, and scholarship on the Baha’i Faith and on world religions through courses, seminars, webinars, video and in-person conferences, and publications. It particularly seeks to foster scholarship by persons of color and young people.
Learning Outcomes of our courses (in general; some emphasize one more than another)
- To explore and analyze the nature and purpose of Baha’i authoritative texts and the meaning of Baha’i history.
- To explore the nature and purpose of religion, its understanding of physical and spiritual creation, the nature of human beings both individually and collectively, the role of religion in individual and collective transformation, and its development over time.
- To examine religious phenomena, scriptural themes, and ethical principles comparatively in the larger context of religion, and the ways the phenomena, themes, and principles are expressed in different religious traditions, including the Baha’i Faith.
- To develop the ability to relate to our Creator and creation more deeply, to analyze more critically, participate in discourse more effectively, consult with others more wisely, and seek involvement in the life of society more actively.