What is the Baha’i faith?

Hi friends and welcome to my post here in a series of the worlds’ major religions. This series is primarily aimed at those that are exploring or consider the spiritual aspect of their lives to be important as a part of their personal development. In this article, we will be looking at the “youngest” of these religions, the Baha’i faith. I hope by reading this article the reader is given more insight into questions that they may have in relation to this faith. So, just what is the Baha’i faith all about? In this article, we will look into the past, present, and future of this faith and this will be done under the following sections :

  • Where did this faith originate?
  • What are the core beliefs of the faith?
  • Other prominent figures of the faith.
  • Baha’i’s in the world today.
  • Baha’i persecution.
  • Where can I find out more about the faith?
  • My view on the Baha’i faith.

I have also added some of my favorite Baha’i prayers amongst the text for your perusal.

Please do enjoy this read courtesy of myself and don’t forget to add any questions/thoughts /comments below when you are done :))

Where did this faith originate?

The Baha’i faith can be said to have its original roots in Ba’bism, the leader of which was a man known as the Ba’b (Arabic word for gateway)The Ba’b also known as Ali Muhammad Shirazi(October 20, 1819 – July 9, 1850),was a merchant from Shiraz in Qajar, Iran. At the age of 24 in 1844, he proclaimed himself to be a messenger sent from God. His followers at the time then became know as Ba’bi’s.To Baha’i’s, the Ba’b has come to be likened to the Christian prophets, Elijah or John the Baptist from the new testament of the Chrisitan faith. He is basically recognized as not the actual manifestation of God on earth but the one who was sent beforehand to deliver the message to people at the time, that the actual manifestation or messianic figure would be following very soon.

The messianic figure that the Ba’b referred to was found in Bahá’u’lláh who was born as Mírzá Ḥusayn-`Alí Núrí(  12 November 1817 – 29 May 1892) in Tehran, the capital of Persia or now modern-day Iran.

Bahá’u’lláh first encountered the Báb when he was 27 years old after the Ba’b sent him a visitor informing him of the Ba’b and his claims.Bahá’u’lláh then became a follower of the Ba’b, then known as a Bábí, and helped to spread the news of this movement. After the Ba’b was executed in 1850 by the government of the day, this led to a failed uprising by Bab’i’s at the time and the eventual execution of those involved as well as imprisonment of others including Bahá’u’lláh in the Síyáh-Chál (“black pit”), an infamous underground dungeon of Tehran. According to Bahá’u’lláhs’ writings, it was during his imprisonment in the Síyáh-Chál that he had several spiritual experiences and received a vision from a maiden from God, through whom he received his purpose as a messenger of God and thereby confirmation as the messianic figure whose arrival the Báb had prophesied.

On 21 April 1863, Bahá’u’lláh and his companions visited the Najibiyyih gardens (also known to Bahá’ís as the Garden of Ridván). Bahá’u’lláh and his companions stayed in the garden for twelve days before departing for Constantinople. During this time in the garden, Bahá’u’lláh declared to a small group of his companions, his calling as a Messenger of God.Bahá’u’lláh declared himself “He whom God shall make manifest”, a messianic figure in the Bábi’ religion.

Bahá’u’lláh based this announcement on his previous spiritual experience while incarcerated in the Síyáh-Chál in Tehran where he is said to have had a vision of the Maid of Heaven. Bahá’ís regard this period with significant reverance and celebrate the twelve days that Bahá’u’lláh spent in this Garden as the festival of Ridván. The declaration in the Garden of Ridván was the beginning of a new chapter in the Bábí community which then led to the emergence of the Bahá’í Faith as a distinctive religion separate from Bábísm

” Blessed is the spot, and the house, and the place, and the city, and the heart, and the mountain, and the refuge, and the cave, and the valley, and the land, and the sea, and the island, and the meadow where mention of God hath been made, and His praise glorified.” —Bahá’u’lláh

What are the core beliefs of the faith?

Bahai House of justice,Haifa,Israel.

The core beliefs of the Bahai’i faith are :

  • the oneness of God and religion
  • the oneness of humanity and freedom from prejudice
  • the inherent nobility of the human being
  • the progressive revelation of religious truth
  • development of spiritual qualities
  • integration of worship and service
  • the equality of the sexes
  • the harmony between religion and science
  • the centrality of justice in all human endeavors
  • the importance of education

Bahai’s attempt to live their lives according to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and this is translated into a community that places emphasis on ongoing learning and applied practical action in the world around them. This faith is free from any hierarchy structure and does not claim to have an exclusive understanding of any religious truth. All Baha’i’s share a common goal of serving humanity and the promotion of unity amongst mankind.

” O, God! Educate these children. These children are the plants of Thine orchard, the flowers of Thy meadow, the roses of Thy garden. Let Thy rain fall upon them; let the Sun of Reality shine upon them with Thy love. Let Thy breeze refresh them in order that they may be trained, grow and develop, and appear in the utmost beauty. Thou art the Giver. Thou art the Compassionate.” – Abdu’l-Bahá”

Other prominent figures of the faith.

Abdu'l-Baha' at age 24(image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Apart from the Bab’ and Bahá’u’lláh as discussed above, the other prominent figures in this faith are :

Abdu’l-Bahá’ – ( 23 May 1844 – 28 November 1921) Known as Abbás at birth, he was the eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh and head of the Bahá’í Faith from 1892 until 1921. `Abdu’l-Bahá was later recognized as the last of three “central figures” of the faith, along with the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh .His writings and talks are regarded as a sacred source of Bahá’í literature. He is commonly referred to in Bahá’í texts as “The Master”.

Shogi Effendi,Haifa,1921(image courtesy Wikipedia)

Shoghí Effendí Rabbání (1 March 1897 – 4 November 1957), more commonly known as Shoghi Effendi, was the Guardian and appointed the head of the Bahá’í Faith from 1921 until his death in 1957. Shoghi Effendi spent his early life in ʿAkkā (Acre). His education was directed to serving as secretary and translator to his grandfather, `Abdu’l-Bahá, then leader of the Bahá’í Faith and son of the religion’s founder, Bahá’u’lláh.

After `Abdu’l-Bahás’ death in 1921, the Bahá’í community leadership changed from that of a single individual to an administrative order with executive and legislative branches. Shoghi Effendi was then referred to as the Guardian and had the authority to interpret the writings of the three central figures of the religion and define the sphere of legislative authority.Shoghi Effendi was the first and last person regarded as Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith.

I am, O my God, but a tiny seed which Thou hast sown in the soil of Thy love, and caused to spring forth by the hand of Thy bounty. This seed craveth, therefore, in its inmost being, for the waters of Thy mercy and the living fountain of Thy grace. Send down upon it, from the heaven of Thy loving-kindness, that which will enable it to flourish beneath Thy shadow and within the borders of Thy court. Thou art He Who watereth the hearts of all that have recognized Thee from Thy plenteous stream and the fountain of Thy living waters.

Praised be God, the Lord of the worlds – Bahá’u’lláh

Bahai’s in the world today.

At present, the number of Bahai’s in the world exceeds 5,000,000. The Bahá’í Faith is established in almost every country and their dependent territories. Bahá’ís live in excess of 100,000 localities. Numerous indigenous tribes, races, and ethnic groups are represented in the Bahá’í community. The following facts are a testament to the presence and societal impact the Bahai Faith is having globally today :

  • There are currently 188 councils at a national level that oversee the work and programs with communities.
  • An existing global network of over 300 training institutes that offer formal programs of Bahá’í education.
  • At present, there are 10 Bahá’í Houses of Worship – in the U.S, Cambodia, Germany, Uganda, Australia, Colombia, Panama, Cambodia, Chile, India and Samoa,
  • At the local community level, meetings for worship and connecting with the community, in general, are held regularly in the homes of believers and Bahá’í centers all over the world.
  • The Bahá’í International Community has been registered as an N.G.O.(nongovernmental organization) with the United Nations since 1948.
  • It currently has consultative status with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and
  • It also holds accreditation with the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) and the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). The Baha’i International Community also works closely with the UN and its agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations, member states, practitioners and academia. It has Representative Offices in Brussels, Addis Ababa, New York, Geneva and Jakarta.
  • Bahá’í writings and associated literature have been translated into more than 800 languages.
  • Around one million people visit the Bahá’í Shrine, gardens and terraces on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel annually.
  • In Iran, the birthplace of the Bahá’í Faith, there are now approximately 300,000 Bahá’ís, making up the largest religious minority in that country

“Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise” – Bahá’u’lláh

Baha’i Persecution.

Persecution

It is probably safe to say that since the inception of Babism’, that Baha’i’s have faced and continue to face real and at times violent persecution from different sections of the community, the world over, in which they live. The origins of persecution stem from a variety of Bahá’í teachings that were and still are inconsistent with the traditional Islamic beliefs and teachings of this Muslim majority population. In short Bahai’s have come to be viewed as apostates from Islam and in the extreme been threatened with death and even killed over this conflict in beliefs.[This persecution is still particularly practiced in Iran today as it was at the time of birth of this faith in this country. Past and present methods of persecution include :

  • confiscation and destruction of property owned by individuals and the Bahá’í community
  • employment discrimination
  • denial of access to government benefits
  • false arrests
  • false imprisonment
  • beatings
  • torture
  • executions
  • civil rights and liberties abuse
  • denial of access to higher education.

Various current instances of this ongoing persecution can be read at the supplied links below:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2018/07/24/discrimination-or-a-subtle-and-slow-but-steady-persecution-of-bahais-in-iran/#5a3930e94000

https://www.mei.edu/publications/iran-backed-houthi-rebels-step-persecution-bahai-minority-yemen

“Thou Whose face is the object of my adoration, Whose beauty is my sanctuary, Whose habitation is my goal, Whose praise is my hope, Whose providence is my companion, Whose love is the cause of my being, Whose mention is my solace, Whose nearness is my desire, Whose presence is my dearest wish and highest aspiration, I entreat Thee not to withhold from me the things Thou didst ordain for the chosen ones among Thy servants. Supply me, then, with the good of this world and of the next. Thou, truly, art the King of all men. There is no God but Thee, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous” – Bahá’u’lláh

Where can I found out more about the faith?

There are a number of ways that you can find out more about the Baha’i faith. In today’s age, the most obvious suggestion is to go online and start your search there. Undoubtedly, all across the world, you will not be far from a Baha’i group in your local area. Another great way is to attend what is known the Bahai’ world over as a “fireside”.These are warm, informal gatherings at a local Bahai’ persons’ home or at a beach/park where non-Bahai’s can learn about the faith. The discussion at these is usually guided by a well versed practicing Bahai’.If nothing else, these are a great way to meet and make new friends !! Other than that, start by asking friends, family, work colleagues or community contacts where you might get to meet Bahai’s in your local area.

” O my God! O my God! Unite the hearts of Thy servants, and reveal to them Thy great purpose. May they follow Thy commandments and abide in Thy law. Help them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength to serve Thee. O, God! Leave them not to themselves, but guide their steps by the light of Thy knowledge, and cheer their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper and their Lord “-Bahá’u’lláha

My view on the Baha’i faith.

Although I come from a traditional Chrisitan background, there are things I truly love about the Bahai faith and its members and these are :

  • I have made true friends and a second “family” for life
  • the practice of equality of the sexes
  • the focus on ongoing education and learning
  • their acceptance and belief of all past messianic figures e.g. Christ, Muhammad, Krishna, The Buhhda, Moses etc.
  • their commitment to real practical change and outreach at the local community level
  • their belief in the merging of science and religion

 

“The whole universe testifieth to Thy generosity. Have mercy, then, upon me by Thy graciousness, and deal bountifully with me through the power of Thy sovereignty, and suffer me to enjoy near access to Thee by Thy manifold favors. Thou, truly, art the Great Giver, the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Bountiful” – Bahá’u’lláh

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Today, we have examined the Baha’i faith in the following sections :

  • Where did this faith originate?
  • What are the core beliefs of the faith?
  • Other prominent figures of the faith.
  • Bahai’s in the world today.
  • Baha’i persecution.
  • Where can I find out more about the faith?
  • My view on the Baha’i faith.

I personally learned more about this faith during the creation of this article and truly enjoyed the process in doing so. As stated before it was written in the hope of providing more information about the Bahai’ faith and in doing so helping any readers who might wish to explore this further as part of their own spiritual journey.

I truly hope that this article was able to assist somebody, somewhere !!

If you have any questions or thoughts on how this article was able to assist you, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment below as I look forward to hearing about your reflections on the Baha’i faith. I will reply as soon as I can!”

Peace and blessings !!

Billy :))

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11 Comments on “What is the Baha’i faith?”

  1. I am a religious person and enjoys reading all sorts of teachings. However, never once have I come across this religion (i.e. Baha’i faith). It’s seems the way this religion started and how the leader ended up dying is similar to most religions. One thing that blows my mind about this religion is how it has a huge followers around the world and yet have never come across one. 

    One question I have though is, are there any requirements needed for you to join this religion? I am really curious to hear what the answer will be. Thanks in advance. 

    1. Hi Kuu,thanks heaps for your comment here !! I think you might have come across some Baha’i’s before but you probably didn’t know who they were at the time.I am not even sure how to become a Baha’i but you may be able to find more information here.

  2. Wow, the Baha’i faith is everything I want from a religion. I love their values and beliefs!Although I am not religious, should I one day become religious, the Baha’i faith will certainly be my top choice.

    Do you know of any Baha’i music or songs? It would be interesting to learn the music, if there is.

    1. Hi Panda,thanks for your feedback here!! I have noticed that often they put their spoken prayers to music and sing them rather than the “traditional” view that prayers are spoken.At most meetings I have been to with my friends I really enjoy this style :)) More Baha’i music can be found here.

  3. Billy, 

    Fascinating article, I have to admit I had never heard of the Baha’i faith before reading your article.  

    My question is how hard is it to find other practitioners of the Baha’i faith?  It seems like it would be fairly difficult to get a firsthand experience of this faith, especially if you live in a small out of the way town or something along those lines.  

    How difficult was it for you to find other members when preparing this article?  Are they wary of new people, especially given the persecution they have to face in some areas?  Thanks for the article and keep up the good work.

    1. Hi Mike,thanks for your feedback here !! Looking to meet some Baha’i folk?Just “google”it and I bet you will come up with a solution :))

      It was quite easy for me to find some Baha’i folk as some are good friends of our family and I regularly attend our inter-faith get togethers and no they are not wary at all here in Australia where I live.In a Muslim majority country though,that could prove to be a different case .

  4. Thanks Billy, you have been busy to compile all that, it’s 18 pages, I had it printed out to peruse at leisure at home. By the way Q of 1 of the comments how to become a Bahai, I guess you aks any of it’s members, there is a form to fill in & it will be registered at the Universal House of Justice in Haifa / Israel & in Sydney Temple – the national spiritual assembly & the local spiritual assembly in Cairns, those are the steps to join

  5. Thanks a lot for this post, Billy! Very nicely put together. And I love the prayers you shared too.

    I decided to join the Baha’i community myself in 2003 in New York City, more than 15 years ago. I am French and now living in Belgium. This is the most meaningful decision I ever made in my entire life… and I have had quite a fulfilled life. My Faith in God and Baha’u’llah as the Messenger of God for this day and age is the most precious “thing” I have. It has guided me through dark moments of my life, like a lighthouse in a tempest.

    One of the things I love about being a Baha’i is that I do not need to try to convince anyone to believe the same as me… I love and respect everyone and everyone’s choice as to which Messenger of God they decide to follow, or not follow… I believe everyone has very good reasons to believe what they believe. The best we can do is be there for each other. Baha’is work with all people, because we are all members of the same human family and living on the same planet.

    I strongly encourage anyone who shares Baha’i values of unity in diversity, and love for humanity, to come to one of our events to make new friends. You do not need to change anything. Come as you are, and you shall be welcome as you are. <3 If you are in Belgium, do come and see me and I shall introduce you to our beautiful community here. 🙂

    Thanks again for a great read, Billy! May you be blessed beyond your imagination.

    Nathalie

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