About Bahai Religion
The Bahä’i Faith began in 1844.
The Bahä’i Faith was founded in Persia (Iran) by Mirza Husayn Ali
Nuri (1817-1892) known as Bahäulläh, the “Glory of God.” The
word Bahä’i is derived from Bähe (“glory” or “splendor”) and
means follower of Bahäulläh.
The Bahä’i Faith began in 1844 in Shiraz, Persia (now Iran), when
a young merchant named Sayyid Ali Muhammad, also known as
the Bäb (the Gate of God), proclaimed himself to be the Promised
One of Islam, the Qaim, and said that the mission of his
dispensation was to alert the people that another prophet would
soon come to unite the world and bring universal peace to all. The
Bäb was executed in 1850 at the age of 31. Over 20,000 followers
of the Bäb died as martyrs for his cause.
In 1863, Bahäulläh announced that he was the messenger foretold
by the Bäb, sent by God to establish a universal faith. He endured
a series of exiles and imprisonments and finally was banished to
the prison city of Acre, Palestine. He died in 1892 while still under
The Bahä’i writings include numerous works by Bahäulläh, the
Prophet-Founder, and interpretations by his son, ‘Abdul-Bahä, and
great-grandson, Shoghi Effendi. Bahä’i literature can be read
today in over 750 languages and dialects.
The writings of Bahäullah include 100 volumes of Arabic and
Persian text in many literary styles, which is considered to be
revelation from God. Some of the major texts include:
• Kitab-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book): which describes the
details of a new World Order
• Kitab-i-Iqan (The Book of Certitude): which describes the
• The Hidden Words: which describes the ethical teachings
• The Seven Valleys: poetic and mystical writings
The writings of Abdul Bahä and Shoghi Effendi (who translated
most of the Bahä’i scripture into English) also have special
In addition, Bahä’is acknowledge the sacredness of and make use
of the scriptures of the world’s other religions.
There are no formal sects within Bahä’i.
The Bahä’i world community includes almost all nationalities,
classes, trades and professions. There are over 5 million Bahä’is
living in many countries around the world.
The central principles of the Bahä’i Faith are the oneness of God,
the oneness of Religion, and the oneness of Mankind. Bahä’is
believe that humanity is one family created by God.
The purpose of human life is to know and to worship God and to
carry forward an ever advancing civilization. The Bahä’is strive to
bring about the unity of mankind, world peace, and world order.
Path of Attainment
The fostering of good character and the development of spiritual
qualities such as honesty, trustworthiness, compassion, and
justice is the primary path of the faith.
Prayer, meditation, and work done in the spirit of service to
humanity are important Bahä’i disciplines.
Bahä’is are obligated to practice chastity and monogamy;
marriage requires consent of both parties and their parents.
Use of alcohol and drugs is prohibited except when prescribed by
The eradication of prejudice of race, creed, class, nationality, and
sex is the primary motto of the faith.
Bahä’is observe a fast between sunrise and sundown during the
last month of their calendar (March 2 - 20).
The Bahä’i Faith is an independent world religion with adherents in
virtually every country.
The Prophet Bahäulläh taught that divine Revelation is a
Continuous and Progressive process and that the mission of the
Messengers of God represent successive stages in the spiritual
evolution of human society.
Bahäulläh’s eldest son, Abbäs Effendi (1844 – 1921) known as
Abdul Bahä (Servant of Bahä), led the community as the perfect
exemplar and infallible interpreter of his teachings.
Abdul Bahä’s grandson, Shoghi Effendi Rabbäni (1896 – 1957),
was appointed to be the Guardian of the Bahä Faith. He
established the Bahä’i administrative order and supervised the
spread of the Faith to all parts of the globe.
The international governing body is called the Universal House of
Justice which is the supreme administrative body of the Bahä’i
Faith following the death of Shoghi Effendi. Its members are
elected once every five years in Haifa, Israel at an international
convention. All Bahä’i elections are by secret ballot, with no
nominations or electioneering.
The Bahä’i Administrative Order is free from any form of
ecclesiasticism, having neither priesthood nor man-made rituals,
and forbids asceticism, monasticism, and mendicancy. The clearly
defined administration has protected the unity of the Bahä Faith
There are currently over 25,000 local assemblies and over 145
National Assemblies throughout the world.
The affairs of the local Bahä’i community are administered by a
Spiritual Assembly consisting of nine-members elected annually.
Nationally, a nine-member body is elected each year by the
delegates of local assemblies.
Bahä’i meetings include devotional services, readings from Bahä’i
and other religious scriptures, study classes, discussions, social
events, and the observance of holy days.
Bahä’is do not enroll in political parties, but are encouraged to vote
and be active in community affairs.
The eradication of prejudice of race, creed, class, nationality, and
sex is the primary motto of the faith. Racism retards the
unfoldment of the boundless potentialities of its victims, corrupts
its perpetrators, and blights human progress. Recognition of the
oneness of mankind, implemented by appropriate legal measures,
must be universally upheld if this problem is to be overcome.
Belief in the equality of women and men. The denial of such
equality perpetrates an injustice against one half of the world’s
population and promotes harmful attitudes in men that are carried
from the family to the workplace, to political life, and ultimately to
Bahä’i World Center
The spiritual and administrative center of the Faith has been
established in the Holy Land of Akka and Haifa. The Bahä’i holy
places in Israel consist of the shrines of Bahäulläh and the Bäb
and historic sites associated with them. The Universal House of
Justice is located on Mt. Carmel in Haifa.
Houses of Worship (Bahä’i Temple)
Throughout the world Bahä’is have built several Houses of
Worship for prayer and meditation. Services of worship consist of
the recitation of Bahä’i scriptures and scriptures of the other
divinely revealed religions. Sometimes “a Capella” music is
Bahä’is believe the number nine symbolizes completeness and
hence Bahä’i temples are designed with nine sides, with a door on
each side. At present, seven Bahä’i temples exist in the following
location: Wilmette (Chicago) Illinois, USA; Frankfurt-am-Main,
West Germany; Kampala, Uganda; Sidney, Australia; Panama
City, Panama; New Delhi, India; and Apia, Western Samoa.
Eventually, each locality will have its own house of worship, which
will serve as the point around which the scientific, educational,
humanitarian, and administrative institutions of the Bahä’i
Social and Economic Development
Due to the progress of civilization, social laws change in the
society at large. Hence from time to time each new revelation
(religion) reflects such change to further enhance the spirituality of
the people. Thus the principles of Bahä’i Faith calls for racial unity,
elimination of all prejudice, promotion of gender equality,
economic justice, universal compulsory education, global
patriotism, and ecological sensitivity.
Bahä’i communities throughout the world are involved in social
and economic development activities that serve the needs of local
populations. The institutions and programs are mostly supported
by voluntary contributions from members.
Activities in health and social services, communications,
agriculture and forestry, and community development are done in
the spirit of service to mankind. Social and economic development
projects worldwide include medical centers, programs for women,
cooperative savings programs, building renovations, communal
farms and homes for refugees and for the aged. The majority of
the projects is the result of grass root efforts operating with little or
no outside support.
The Bahä’i Faith calls for the establishment of a universal auxiliary
language to facilitate global communication, and a world federal
system through which all nations may work for the good of
Ignorance is indisputably the principal reason for the decline and
fall of people and the perpetuation of prejudice. No nation can
achieve success unless education is accorded in all its citizens.
This belief has inspired the establishment of learning centers
which include tutorial schools in fifteen African countries and more
than 300 training schools and centers in Asia. Seven educational
radio stations currently operate in Liberia, Panama, Chile, Peru,
Bolivia, Ecuador and the United States to serve the local
population. Programs in native languages offer advice on health
care, crop management, and child development.
United Nations Activity
The Bahä’i International Community is affiliated with the United
Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), with the United
Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and with the United Nations
Environment Program (UNEP). Local Bahä’i communities are
encouraged to support UN’s various humanitarian projects. The
Bahä’i International Community participates in meetings of UN
agencies concerned with human rights, social development, the
status of women, the environment, human settlement, food,
science and technology, population, the law of the sea, crime
prevention, substance abuse, disarmament, and the United
The Bahä’i Faith stresses unity. The central principles are the
Oneness of God, the Oneness of Religion, and the Oneness of
Mankind. God sent the prophets and key figures of all the world
religions to further the continuing advancement of civilization. This
means that all the world’s great religions are successive stages in
God’s revelation. Bahä’i faith provides the divine guidance
necessary for this Age.
Believe in the equality of men and women. All humans have a
common origin and hence all people deserve to be treated equally.
Bahä’i’s purpose is to foster love, unity, and peace.
The sacred writings of all world religions teach the same spiritual
truth. Hence it encourages inter religious dialogue and marriage
across racial, ethnic, or religious lines. Thus its membership
represents every culture and ethnic group promoting unity while
preserving cultural diversity.
Bahä’i principles include the essential harmony of science and
religion and independent investigation of truth.
Bahä’i believe the number nine has special significance. It is the
highest single digit, which symbolizes completeness. Bahä’is have
faith in the covenant made by Bahäulläh that a Promised One will
appear after one thousand years.
Three horizontal lines represent God, His Messengers, and
humanity. The vertical line represents the Message linking all
Two stars represent God’s Twin Messengers; the Bäb and
The Bahä’i Faith began in 1844. The Bahä’i calendar divides the
year into nineteen months of nineteen days each. Four days (five
in the leap year) are added between the eighteenth and
nineteenth months to keep it synchronized with the solar calendar.
The Bahä’i year includes nine holy days and a period of fasting
near the end of the year. On holidays, work is suspended and a
celebration includes family time, worship, and festive foods.
• The Ridvän Festival - commemorates Bahäulläh’s
proclamation that he is the Messenger of God for this day
an event which took place in Baghdad’s Garden of
Ridvän (Persian for paradise) - (April 21 - May 2, with
abstention from work or school on April 21, April 29, and
• Declaration of the Bäb - celebrates the event with which
the Bahä’i faith marks its beginning (May 23)
• Ascension of Bahäulläh - the anniversary of Bahäulläh’s
passing (May 29)
• Martyrdom of the Bäb - marks the Bäb’s execution (July
• Birth of the Bäb (October 20)
• Birth of Bahäulläh (November 12)
• Naw Ruz (Persian for “New Day”) - celebrates the end of
the Bahä’i nineteen day fast and the beginning of the
Bahä’i New Year (March 21)
Other annual Bahä’i observances do not require abstinence from
work or school.
The mystic was back from the desert. “Tell us,” people said, “what
God is like.” But how could he ever tell them what he had
experienced in his heart? Can God be put into words?
He finally gave them a formula – inaccurate, inadequate – in the
hope that some might be tempted to experience it for themselves.
They seized upon the formula. They made it sacred text. They
imposed it on others as a holy belief. They went to great pains to
spread it in foreign lands. Some even gave their lives for it.
The mystic was sad. It might have been better if he had said
The Zen Master says: “The one who knows does not say. The one
who says does not know.”