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The Bahá'ís of Ottawa come from a variety of backgrounds, brought together by a common belief in the oneness of humanity and the unity of religion. We work alongside others to become a force of positive change by applying insights from the Bahá'í teachings to bring about a more just, peaceful and unified community.
    Behold the disturbances which, for many a long year, have afflicted the earth, and the perturbation that hath seized its peoples. It hath either been ravaged by war or tormented by sudden and unforeseen calamities. Though the world is encompassed with misery and distress, yet no man hath paused to reflect what the cause or source of that may be. The Great Being saith: O well-beloved ones! The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.

In addition to personal prayer and meditation, Bahá'í communities hold regular devotional gatherings for collective worship. These gatherings unite people in prayer and awaken their spiritual susceptibilities. more...

Study circles bring groups of people together to deepen their understanding of the Bahá'í teachings through systematic study. This involves structured group discussion of passages from the Bahá'í writings that encourage reflection on one’s moral purpose and capacities for service. more...

Bahá'í children’s classes are offered to all children between 6 and 10 years old for their spiritual education and moral development. The aim of these classes is to inspire in each child a love for our diverse human family and to cultivate a praiseworthy character. They are guided by the Bahá'í belief that children are noble beings with great potential to develop into upright and active participants in their community. more...

Junior youth – or those between 11 and 14 years – are at a crucial stage in their lives when they are defining their identity and values. Junior youth groups offered by the Bahá'í community address the needs of these young people by helping them to develop a strong moral identity and to empower them to contribute to the well-being of their communities. more...

May 30, 2020


Between 2011 and 2013, Jack McLean[1] served as the Bahá’í contributor to the Ask a Religion Expert in the Ottawa Citizen, which also included Christian, Muslim, Jewish and humanist contributors. In these times when the entire world is battling a pandemic, we thought that many of these universal questions and answers from a Bahá’í point of view would be of interest to our readers.

Question: How should we deal with spiritual doubts?

Answer: The answer depends on what the questioner intends by “spiritual doubts.” It is possible to doubt persons, including ourselves. But what would it profit us to doubt ourselves? We may doubt certain beliefs or teachings. If doubt becomes systematic, it will have a deleterious effect on the life of faith, which is based on affirmation and belief. Doubt is an insidious thing in the life of faith because faith is a type of conscious knowledge that is based on firmly held beliefs, which, in turn, orient our actions.

It is probably for this reason that Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, has revealed in one of his most well-known and powerful prayers, the Tablet of Ahmad, “Be not of those who doubt.” If we doubt God’s promises, they can never be realized. Belief assists in their realization. If we choose to doubt, then, we have to be very selective in the object of our doubts because it could cause serious unravelling of the entire fabric. If we doubt, then, it should be only to deepen our faith.

Another consideration arises. God never compels belief. Our divine endowment includes reason and free-will. In the Bahá’í view, faith and reason should be in accord. In certain instances, the rejection that follows doubt will be a good thing. If, for example, I have been taught that members of all other religions are followers of the devil, it would be commendable to doubt and reject such a belief. If I have been taught that the white race is superior to all other races, it would be praiseworthy to condemn such a teaching. It would be good to doubt a belief that says my religion is superior to all others, or that I should not associate with followers of other faiths because they are unclean.

When we enter the more complex world of theological beliefs, the same principle applies: examine the evidence and come to our own conclusions, either accepting or rejecting the teaching in question. This process of inquiry forms part of the “independent investigation of the truth,” one of the fundamental teachings of the Bahá’í Faith. - Jack McLean

[1]Scholar and poet J.A. (Jack) McLean received a BA in French literature and history at the Sorbonne (University of Paris), a BA in French and Religious Studies at the University of Toronto, and later graduated with distinction with an M.A. in the History of Religions from the University of Ottawa. His books include: Dimensions in Spirituality: Reflections on Spiritual Life and Transformation in Light of the Bahá’í Faith; Under the Divine Lote Tree: Essays and Reflections, and; A Celestial Burning: A Selective Study of the Writings of Shoghi Effendi, for which he won the distinguished scholarship award in the book category from the Association of Bahá’í Studies North America. He also won the annual award for creative writing in poetry (1995). His poetry, academic and newspaper articles, book reviews and essays are available at www.jack-mclean.com

May 5, 2020


Question: What role should charity play in our lives?

Answer: “O CHILDREN OF DUST! Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth. To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with Myvirtues.” (Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith)

The answer to this question will naturally depend on our definition of charity. In modern English, charity is usually synonymous with generosity, giving to the poor and helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves, either morally or monetarily.

In the Christian tradition, the word has subtler shades of meaning, which tie the meaning of charity (caritas) to divine love.

Bahá’ís would certainly agree with this view, or with equivalent views of charity (generosity, compassion, loving-kindness, etc.) in the scriptures of any of the world’s great religions. The world’s religions are one when it comes to their ethical teachings, but their theologies are another story.

For Bahá’ís, the word ‘charity’ is synonymous with generosity, goodness and the love of God, the latter being the foundation of all divine teachings.

Charity takes many forms. It would involve all of feeding and serving the poor, aiding the destitute, relieving their suffering, volunteerism, offering hospitality to the homeless, listening to the plight of the downtrodden, giving in cash or in kind to those in need.

In Western society, particularly within the upper echelons of the corporate world, greed has become shamelessly touted as a virtue. That we have come to such a perverse inversion of generosity and greed is one of the many symptoms of a widespread social and spiritual sickness.

If charity were practised universally, we would not be witnessing the scandalous extremes of wealth and poverty. Such inequalities should both voluntarily and legislatively find their way to extinction.

The charitable heart cannot but be associated with the compassionate heart. The charitable heart is afflicted by the sight of suffering humanity and does what it can to relieve such suffering. - Jack McLean

Dawn of the Light portrays several individuals from different continents as they relate their own personal search after truth and meaning. They share their discovery that God has sent two Divine Manifestations —the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. Watch or download the film here.

The Bahá'í world eagerly anticipated the second historic bicentenary in Bahá'í history. October 2019 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Báb, the forerunner and herald of the Bahá'í Faith. Visit the website here.

There is a story unfolding. It is a story of humanity’s progress through history, propelled by the teachings of Messengers of God Who have guided humanity through its stages of development, and now to the dawn of its maturity. Watch or download the film here.

The Bahá'í world eagerly anticipated the second historic bicentenary in Bahá'í history. October 2019 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Báb, the forerunner and herald of the Bahá'í Faith. Follow our special series on the "Life of the Báb Cameo Series". Start the eleven part series here.

 Ottawa Bahá’í Centre
211 McArthur Ave. K1L 6P6
TEL: 613-742-8250

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