…Onaiyekan preaches peace, unity
By Obi Okwe
It was celebration galore as Baha’is religion marked the 200th anniversary of its founder in Abuja. The event attracted notable religions leaders and representatives of religious organizations including the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan.
The colourful garbs of the religious leaders coupled with the ceremonials of the birthday cake, collectively created a beautiful scenario.
In the opening remarks, an eminent faithful of Bahau’llah in Nigeria, Lawrence Alobi, who spoke on the theme of the celebrations, “the proclamation of world peace and unity” called on all and sundry to embrace peace and unity, saying the represent the core value of human existence.
Distinguishing the Bahau’llah and other religion, the retired Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command, said: “Bahau’llah believes that God is one. And in His infinite mercy and grace reveals to mankind progressively; based on man’s capacity and need.”
He further stated that as a Baha’is, the religion does not limit the teachings of Bahau’llah but goes beyond to the teachings of Christianity, Islam and other religions inasmuch as they preach peace and unity.
“We ask questions about God. No religion is final. So, every religion should strive to foster peace. To every discerning and illuminated heart, it is evident that God, the unknowable essence, the divine being is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute,” he added.
On how the world can benefit from the teachings of Bahau’llah, Alobi admonished everybody to abide by the teachings of the religion, noting that “man by nature is selfish, brutish and nasty. The only way to correct such abnormality is for man to take to heart the teachings of Bahau’llah.”
According to him, the independent investigation of reality also forms one of the fulcrums of the teachings of the religion, since if people are allowed to investigate truth, they will come to see the oneness of humanity.
“Prejudices of all kinds- races, class, colour, creed, nation, gender and degree of material civilization- are causes of strife.
“If we accept to investigate reality rather than blindly imitate the beliefs of the past, we will arise to abolish every form of prejudice.”
He maintained that disunity is a danger that the nations and people of the earth could no longer endure because, according to him, the consequences were too terrible to contemplate, too obvious to require any demonstration.
Corroborating the essence of the celebration, John Cardinal Onaiyekan charged Christians to key into the preaching of universal peace and unity, adding that it was only through such that the world could enjoy development.
“I know so many people would be surprised seeing me here. Don’t be surprised. The campaign for peace should be taken seriously. For Christians who are here, do not be scared that I have seen you. Let us join the campaign of peace and unity.
“The Buhau’llah religion is not well known in Nigeria. As such, we must join hands together to champion a common course.
“The four pillars of religion which are Christianity, Islam, Hindu and Buddhists must work for the attainment of world peace,” the Archbishop advised.
Historically, the founder of the religion, Buhau’llah was born in 1817 in Tehran, the capital of Persia (Iran) and devoted himself to the upliftment and education of the people. He proclaimed the oneness of the world of humanity and taught that all are created and nourished by the one loving and merciful God.
However, Buhau’llah had his own share of persecution. The kings of the East and the priesthood of Persia rose against him, for they did not find their personal interest advanced by his teachings.
He was persecuted, mocked, and put in chains. In Persia, his properties and possessions were taken away.
First, there was banishment from Persia to Baghdad, then to Constantinople, then to Adrianople, and finally to the prison-fortress of Akka.
Meanwhile, some guests at the occasion confessed that they had not heard of such religion before but agreed to key in to the peace and unity campaign since the central message of the religion bordered on “one God”.