Saturday, 14 May 2011

Ruhi Books : A failed Idea

Despite repeated assurances by UHJ that “entry by troops” was just around the corner, the numbers of Baha’is worldwide declined drastically.The glaring example is of India where the claim of 2.2 millions Bahais is in fact only 11,324. In the United States and other parts of the world, the number of Baha’is have also gone down drastically.

Evidence for this partly comes from the numbers of Local Spiritual Assemblies, which is arguably the best way to evaluate the presence of a functioning community. As it turns out, LSA numbers have actually dropped in Africa, Asia, South America since the 1980s. Infact in India where the Bahais always claim to be the largest Baha’i community, there the condition is miserable and pathetic. The number of LSAs from 10,000 in 1984 came down to only 500 in 2009, which is just 0nly 5% of LSAs.

A few reasons for this sudden collapse are :
  • The claims of Baha’i Administration was highly exaggerated if not fraudulent.
  • Many of these new Baha’is did not remain active, and drifted back to their traditional religious and cultural belief systems.
  • Excessive control of the Persian Bahais over the Baha’i Administration including UHJ which antagonized the non Persian Bahais.This control also gave the idea of Hidden Persian Imperialism agenda behind Ruhi Book courses and Baha’i Faith.
In response to this situation of low growth and poor community development, the Universal House of Justice requested all national communities to develop their human resources through systems of systematic training and group study. The intention was to enthuse Baha’is to teach more and develop their community life, which would in turn attract new converts to the religion. And importantly, it provided new converts with a system of learning, so they would not drift away from the religion after their initial enthusiasm.

So since 1996, the House of Justice has requested all national communities set up “training institutes.” These institutes use a decentralized system of locally based group learning, “study circles”, which are led by a trained tutor. Study circles are supposed to develop the “spiritual insights, knowledge, and skills” that are needed for the large-scale growth of the Baha’i community. Baha’i communities, encouraged by institutions such as the International Teaching Centre, have used the “Ruhi” books as the curriculum for these study circles. Currently, there are eight such books: “Reflections on the life of the spirit,” “Arising to serve,” “Teaching children’s grade 1,” “The Twin Manifestations,” “Teaching children’s grade 2,” “Teaching the Cause,” “Walking together on a path of service,” “Covenant” and Baha’is are encouraged to complete them all in a consecutive fashion.

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