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Bahai Center to Open in May

The Bahá’í community is made up of a diverse group of people throughout the world and in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

“There are 3,000 Bahá’ís in the metropolitan area and 6 million followers throughout the world," said Michael Izadi, a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Loudoun County.

“There are over 300 Bahá’ís in Loudoun County,” he said.

Izadi is also the project coordinator of the Northern Virginia Bahá’í Center.

The center will be the first of its kind in Northern Virginia, is scheduled to open this May.

RIGHT NOW, the Bahá’í Center is a circular skeleton of what will be a meeting place, located off Route 7, for the small community.

The three-level building will be complete with classrooms, office space and an auditorium.

The center will serve as a community meeting place for those who live in Loudoun and Fairfax County and throughout the D.C.-metropolitan area.

The process began in 1989, when 19 Bahá’í organizations located throughout Northern Virginia combined their efforts to purchase land to build a center. The groups hired a Bahá’í architect company, Amanat Art Design International, based out of Canada, to create their place of worship. They began site work in 2005.

“This has been a long time coming,” Izadi said.

SHIRLEY GANAO teaches interfaith virtues classes from the basement of her Ashburn home. Her class is made up of children that range from 4 years old to 15 years old. They come from Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

Ganao compared her makeshift classroom to that of a one-room schoolhouse.

A Bahá’í Center, for Ganao, would allow her to teach several virtues classes tailored to different age groups.

“A center would allow us to organize a bit better,” she said. "Separate the students.”

Ryan Nour, 12, attends virtues classes once a month. “We learn how to be virtuous, how to be honest. To do what’s right,” he said.

Nour, an eighth-grader at Seneca Ridge Middle School, takes virtues class with his 9-year-old brother.

Nour said he looks forward to a Bahá’í Center.

“It will be a good place for all the Bahá’ís to get together,” he said. “To have feasts and to bring friends.”

The center will also house a children’s theater group, Izadi said.

“All children are welcome to participate,” he said.

THE CENTER’S open-door policy reflects the essential message of the faith’s founder, Bahá’u’lláh.

“The fundamental principle is the unity of mankind,” he said.

Bahá’ís believe in one God, who is the source of all the world's religions.

"We don't believe we're right or they're wrong," Izadi said.

Bahá’ís believe that humanity is one race and it is their goal to unite mankind by breaking down traditional barriers, like race and class, Izadi said.

“One planet, one people, one God.”