About Bahai Religion

Religion

About Bahai Religion

Bahai

Founded

The Bahä’i Faith began in 1844.

Founder

 

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

house arrest.

Major Scriptures

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

doctrinal writings

• 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

significance.

In addition, Bahä’is acknowledge the sacredness of and make use

of the scriptures of the world’s other religions.

Sects

There are no formal sects within Bahä’i.

Adherents

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.

Goals

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

a physician.

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).

Synopsis

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

from schism.

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

international relations.

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

played.

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

community revolve.

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

humanity.

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

Nations University.

Beliefs

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.

Symbol

Three horizontal lines represent God, His Messengers, and

humanity. The vertical line represents the Message linking all

three.

Two stars represent God’s Twin Messengers; the Bäb and

Bahäulläh.

Holidays

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

May 2)

• 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

9)

• 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 Formula

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

nothing.

The Zen Master says: “The one who knows does not say. The one

who says does not know.”

 

 

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