No man should follow blindly his ancestors and forefathers. Nay, each must see with his own eyes, hear with his own ears and investigate independently in order that he may find the truth. The religion of forefathers and ancestors is based upon blind imitation. Man should investigate reality.
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 25.
A child can indeed become a member of the Bahá’í Faith, but this decision is not taken lightly either by the Faith or by the family involved. The Bahá’í teachings emphasize understanding and conscious acceptance of the Faith’s principles. Therefore, a child or youth must demonstrate a sufficient level of comprehension regarding the significance of such a spiritual commitment. This ensures that the decision to join is based on personal belief and recognition of the Faith’s tenets rather than merely following family tradition or peer influence.
Parental consent also plays a crucial role in a child’s declaration of faith in the Bahá’í community. The unity of the family unit is highly valued, and as such, the Faith encourages harmony within the family. If parents are supportive of their child’s choice, it can foster a nurturing environment for the child’s spiritual growth. Conversely, if there is parental objection, the Bahá’í institutions generally advise the child to respect their parents’ wishes. This guidance is in keeping with the Bahá’í principles of family unity and obedience to parental authority.
Upon reaching the age of maturity, defined in the Bahá’í Faith as 15 years, an individual is considered spiritually responsible for their own decisions, including religious affiliation. At this juncture, a youth is entitled to make an independent decision to join the Bahá’í community, even if their earlier interest faced parental opposition. This age is recognized within the Bahá’í administrative order as the point at which an individual can exercise full administrative rights and responsibilities, such as participating in the election of Bahá’í institutions. However, this assumes that the age of religious consent recognized by civil law does not conflict with this practice. The Bahá’í Faith respects the laws of the land, and where there is a discrepancy, adherence to legal stipulations takes precedence.
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