Baháʼí Faith

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This article is about the global religious community. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_0

For other related uses, see Bahai (disambiguation). Baháʼí Faith_sentence_1

The Baháʼí Faith (/bəˈhɑːiː, bəˈhaɪ/; Persian: بهائی‎ Bahāʼi) is a new religion teaching the essential worth of all religions and the unity of all people. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_2

Established by Baháʼu'lláh in the 19th century, it initially developed in Persia and parts of the Middle East, where it has faced ongoing persecution since its inception. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_3

The religion is estimated to have over five million adherents, known as Baháʼís, spread throughout most of the world's countries and territories. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_4

The religion has three central figures: the Báb (1819–1850), considered a herald who taught that God would soon send a prophet, in the same way of Jesus or Muhammad, and was executed by Iranian authorities in 1850; Baháʼu'lláh (1817–1892), who claimed to be that prophet in 1863 and faced exile and imprisonment for most of his life; and his son, ʻAbdu'l-Bahá (1844–1921), who was released from confinement in 1908 and made teaching trips to Europe and the United States. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_5

After ʻAbdu'l-Bahá's death in 1921, leadership of the religion fell to his grandson Shoghi Effendi (1897–1957). Baháʼí Faith_sentence_6

Baháʼís annually elect local, regional, and national Spiritual Assemblies that govern the religion's affairs. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_7

Every five years the members of all National Spiritual Assemblies elect the Universal House of Justice, the nine-member supreme governing institution of the worldwide Baháʼí community that is located in Haifa, Israel, near the Shrine of the Báb. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_8

Baháʼí teachings are in some ways similar to other monotheistic faiths: e.g., God is considered single and all-powerful. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_9

But Baháʼu'lláh taught that religion is orderly and progressively revealed by Manifestations of God, who are the founders of major world religions throughout history: Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad are noted as the most recent before the Báb and Baháʼu'lláh. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_10

Baháʼís regard the major religions as fundamentally unified in purpose, though varied in social practices and interpretations. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_11

The Baháʼí Faith stresses the unity of all people, openly rejecting notions of racism and nationalism. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_12

At the heart of Baháʼí teachings is the goal of a unified world order that ensures the prosperity of all nations, races, creeds, and classes. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_13

Letters written by Baháʼu'lláh to various people, including some heads of state, have been collected and assembled into a canon of Baháʼí scripture. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_14

This includes works by his son ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, and the Báb, who is regarded as Baháʼu'lláh's forerunner. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_15

Prominent among Baháʼí literature are the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Kitáb-i-Íqán, Some Answered Questions, and The Dawn-Breakers. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_16

Etymology Baháʼí Faith_section_0

In English, the word Baháʼí is used either as an adjective to refer to the Baháʼí Faith or as a term for a follower of Baháʼu'lláh. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_17

It is derived from the Arabic Baháʼ (بهاء), meaning "glory" or "splendor". Baháʼí Faith_sentence_18

The older term "Bahaʼism" (or "Bahaism") is still used, for example as a variant of "Bahai Faith" by the US Library of Congress, but it is now less common and the Baháʼí community prefers "Baháʼí Faith". Baháʼí Faith_sentence_19

Beliefs Baháʼí Faith_section_1

Main article: Baháʼí teachings Baháʼí Faith_sentence_20

The teachings of Baháʼu'lláh form the foundation of Baháʼí belief. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_21

Three principles are central to these teachings: the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_22

Baha'is believe that God periodically reveals his will through divine messengers, whose purpose is to transform the character of humankind and to develop, within those who respond, moral and spiritual qualities. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_23

Religion is thus seen as orderly, unified, and progressive from age to age. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_24

God Baháʼí Faith_section_2

Main article: God in the Baháʼí Faith Baháʼí Faith_sentence_25

The Baháʼí writings describe a single, personal, inaccessible, omniscient, omnipresent, imperishable, and almighty God who is the creator of all things in the universe. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_26

The existence of God and the universe is thought to be eternal, without a beginning or end. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_27

Though inaccessible directly, God is nevertheless seen as conscious of creation, with a will and purpose expressed through messengers called Manifestations of God. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_28

Baháʼí teachings state that God is too great for humans to fully comprehend, or to create a complete and accurate image of by themselves. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_29

Therefore, human understanding of God is achieved through his revelations via his Manifestations. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_30

In the Baháʼí religion, God is often referred to by titles and attributes (for example, the All-Powerful, or the All-Loving), and there is a substantial emphasis on monotheism. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_31

Baháʼí teachings state that the attributes applied to God are used to translate Godliness into human terms and to help people concentrate on their own attributes in worshipping God to develop their potentialities on their spiritual path. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_32

According to the Baháʼí teachings the human purpose is to learn to know and love God through such methods as prayer, reflection, and being of service to others. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_33

Religion Baháʼí Faith_section_3

Main article: Baháʼí Faith and the unity of religion Baháʼí Faith_sentence_34

See also: Progressive revelation (Baháʼí) Baháʼí Faith_sentence_35

Baháʼí notions of progressive religious revelation result in their accepting the validity of the well known religions of the world, whose founders and central figures are seen as Manifestations of God. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_36

Religious history is interpreted as a series of dispensations, where each manifestation brings a somewhat broader and more advanced revelation that is rendered as a text of scripture and passed on through history with greater or lesser reliability but at least true in substance, suited for the time and place in which it was expressed. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_37

Specific religious social teachings (for example, the direction of prayer, or dietary restrictions) may be revoked by a subsequent manifestation so that a more appropriate requirement for the time and place may be established. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_38

Conversely, certain general principles (for example, neighbourliness, or charity) are seen to be universal and consistent. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_39

In Baháʼí belief, this process of progressive revelation will not end; it is, however, believed to be cyclical. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_40

Baháʼís do not expect a new manifestation of God to appear within 1000 years of Baháʼu'lláh's revelation. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_41

Baháʼí beliefs are sometimes described as syncretic combinations of earlier religious beliefs. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_42

Baháʼís, however, assert that their religion is a distinct tradition with its own scriptures, teachings, laws, and history. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_43

The religion was initially seen as a sect of Islam because of its belief in the prophethood of Muhammad and in the authenticity and veracity of the Qur’an. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_44

Most religious specialists now see it as an independent religion, with its religious background in Shiʻa Islam being seen as analogous to the Jewish context in which Christianity was established. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_45

Muslim institutions and clergy, both Sunni and Shi'a, consider Baháʼís to be deserters or apostates from Islam, which has led to Baháʼís being persecuted. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_46

Baháʼís describe their faith as an independent world religion, differing from the other traditions in its relative age and in the appropriateness of Baháʼu'lláh's teachings to the modern context. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_47

Baháʼu'lláh is believed to have fulfilled the messianic expectations of these precursor faiths. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_48

Human beings Baháʼí Faith_section_4

See also: Baháʼí Faith and the unity of humanity and Baháʼí Faith on life after death Baháʼí Faith_sentence_49

The Baháʼí writings state that human beings have a "rational soul", and that this provides the species with a unique capacity to recognize God's status and humanity's relationship with its creator. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_50

Every human is seen to have a duty to recognize God through his messengers, and to conform to their teachings. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_51

Through recognition and obedience, service to humanity and regular prayer and spiritual practice, the Baháʼí writings state that the soul becomes closer to God, the spiritual ideal in Baháʼí belief. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_52

According to Baháʼí belief when a human dies the soul is permanently separated from the body and carries on in the next world where it is judged based on the person's actions in the physical world. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_53

Heaven and Hell are taught to be spiritual states of nearness or distance from God that describe relationships in this world and the next, and not physical places of reward and punishment achieved after death. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_54

The Baháʼí writings emphasize the essential equality of human beings, and the abolition of prejudice. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_55

Humanity is seen as essentially one, though highly varied; its diversity of race and culture are seen as worthy of appreciation and acceptance. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_56

Doctrines of racism, nationalism, caste, social class, and gender-based hierarchy are seen as artificial impediments to unity. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_57

The Baháʼí teachings state that the unification of humanity is the paramount issue in the religious and political conditions of the present world. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_58

Summary Baháʼí Faith_section_5

Shoghi Effendi, the head of the religion from 1921 to 1957, wrote the following summary of what he considered to be the distinguishing principles of Baháʼu'lláh's teachings, which, he said, together with the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas constitute the bedrock of the Baháʼí Faith: Baháʼí Faith_sentence_59

Social principles Baháʼí Faith_section_6

The following principles are frequently listed as a quick summary of the Baháʼí teachings. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_60

They are derived from transcripts of speeches given by ʻAbdu'l-Bahá during his tour of Europe and North America in 1912. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_61

The list is not authoritative and a variety of such lists circulate. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_62

Baháʼí Faith_unordered_list_0

With specific regard to the pursuit of world peace, Baháʼu'lláh prescribed a world-embracing collective security arrangement for the establishment of a temporary era of peace referred to in the Baha'i teachings as the Lesser Peace. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_63

For the establishment of a lasting peace (The Most Great Peace) and the purging of the "overwhelming Corruptions" it is necessary that all the people of the world universally unite under a universal Faith. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_64

Covenant Baháʼí Faith_section_7

Main article: Covenant of Baháʼu'lláh Baháʼí Faith_sentence_65

The Baháʼí teachings speak of a "Greater Covenant", being universal and endless, and a "Lesser Covenant", being unique to each religious dispensation. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_66

The Lesser Covenant is viewed as an agreement between a Messenger of God and his followers and includes social practices and the continuation of authority in the religion. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_67

At this time Baháʼís view Baháʼu'lláh's revelation as a binding lesser covenant for his followers; in the Baháʼí writings being firm in the covenant is considered a virtue to work toward. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_68

The Greater Covenant is viewed as a more enduring agreement between God and humanity, where a Manifestation of God is expected to come to humanity about every thousand years, at times of turmoil and uncertainty. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_69

With unity as an essential teaching of the religion, Baháʼís follow an administration they believe is divinely ordained, and therefore see attempts to create schisms and divisions as efforts that are contrary to the teachings of Baháʼu'lláh. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_70

Schisms have occurred over the succession of authority, but any Baháʼí divisions have had relatively little success and have failed to attract a sizeable following. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_71

The followers of such divisions are regarded as Covenant-breakers and shunned, essentially excommunicated. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_72

Canonical texts Baháʼí Faith_section_8

Main article: Baháʼí literature Baháʼí Faith_sentence_73

The canonical texts are the writings of the Báb, Baháʼu'lláh, ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice, and the authenticated talks of ʻAbdu'l-Bahá. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_74

The writings of the Báb and Baháʼu'lláh are considered as divine revelation, the writings and talks of ʻAbdu'l-Bahá and the writings of Shoghi Effendi as authoritative interpretation, and those of the Universal House of Justice as authoritative legislation and elucidation. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_75

Some measure of divine guidance is assumed for all of these texts. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_76

Some of Baháʼu'lláh's most important writings include the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, literally the Most Holy Book, which defines many laws and practices for individuals and society, the Kitáb-i-Íqán, literally the Book of Certitude, which became the foundation of much of Baháʼí belief, the Gems of Divine Mysteries, which includes further doctrinal foundations, and the Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys which are mystical treatises. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_77

Mystical writings Baháʼí Faith_section_9

Although the Baháʼí teachings have a strong emphasis on social and ethical issues, a number of foundational texts have been described as mystical. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_78

The Seven Valleys is considered Baháʼu'lláh's "greatest mystical composition." Baháʼí Faith_sentence_79

It was written to a follower of Sufism, in the style of ʻAttar, the Persian Muslim poet, and sets forth the stages of the soul's journey towards God. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_80

It was first translated into English in 1906, becoming one of the earliest available books of Baháʼu'lláh to the West. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_81

The Hidden Words is another book written by Baháʼu'lláh during the same period, containing 153 short passages in which Baháʼu'lláh claims to have taken the basic essence of certain spiritual truths and written them in brief form. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_82

History Baháʼí Faith_section_10

Main article: History of the Baháʼí Faith Baháʼí Faith_sentence_83

The Baháʼí Faith formed from the Iranian religion of the Báb, a merchant who began preaching a new interpretation of Shia Islam in 1844. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_84

The Báb's claim to divine revelation was rejected by the generality of Islamic clergy in Iran, ending in his public execution by authorities in 1850. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_85

The Báb taught that God would soon send a new messenger, and Baháʼís consider Baháʼu'lláh to be that person. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_86

Although they are distinct movements, the Báb is so interwoven into Baháʼí theology and history that Baháʼís celebrate his birth, death, and declaration as holy days, consider him one of their three central figures (along with Baháʼu'lláh and ʻAbdu'l-Bahá), and a historical account of the Bábí movement (The Dawn-Breakers) is considered one of three books that every Baháʼí should "master" and read "over and over again". Baháʼí Faith_sentence_87

The Baháʼí community was mostly confined to the Iranian and Ottoman empires until after the death of Baháʼu'lláh in 1892, at which time he had followers in 13 countries of Asia and Africa. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_88

Under the leadership of his son, ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, the religion gained a footing in Europe and America, and was consolidated in Iran, where it still suffers intense persecution. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_89

ʻAbdu'l-Bahá's death in 1921 marks the end of what Baháʼís call the "heroic age" of the religion. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_90

The Báb Baháʼí Faith_section_11

Main article: Báb Baháʼí Faith_sentence_91

On the evening of 22 May 1844, Siyyid ʻAlí-Muhammad of Shiraz gained his first convert and took on the title of "the Báb" (الباب "the Gate"), referring to his later claim to the status of Mahdi of Shiʻa Islam. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_92

His followers were therefore known as Bábís. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_93

As the Báb's teachings spread, which the Islamic clergy saw as blasphemous, his followers came under increased persecution and torture. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_94

The conflicts escalated in several places to military sieges by the Shah's army. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_95

The Báb himself was imprisoned and eventually executed in 1850. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_96

Baháʼís see the Báb as the forerunner of the Baháʼí Faith, because the Báb's writings introduced the concept of "He whom God shall make manifest", a Messianic figure whose coming, according to Baháʼís, was announced in the scriptures of all of the world's great religions, and whom Baháʼu'lláh, the founder of the Baháʼí Faith, claimed to be. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_97

The Báb's tomb, located in Haifa, Israel, is an important place of pilgrimage for Baháʼís. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_98

The remains of the Báb were brought secretly from Iran to the Holy Land and eventually interred in the tomb built for them in a spot specifically designated by Baháʼu'lláh. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_99

The main written works translated into English of the Báb's are collected in Selections from the Writings of the Báb out of the estimated 135 works. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_100

Baháʼu'lláh Baháʼí Faith_section_12

Main article: Baháʼu'lláh Baháʼí Faith_sentence_101

Mírzá Husayn ʻAlí Núrí was one of the early followers of the Báb, and later took the title of Baháʼu'lláh. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_102

Bábís faced a period of persecution that peaked in 1852–53 after a few individual Bábis made a failed attempt to assassinate the Shah. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_103

Although they acted alone, the government responded with collective punishment, killing many Bábís. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_104

Baháʼu'lláh was put in prison. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_105

Shortly thereafter he was expelled from Iran and traveled to Baghdad, in the Ottoman Empire. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_106

In Baghdad, his leadership revived the persecuted followers of the Báb in Iran, so Iranian authorities requested his removal, which instigated a summons to Constantinople (now Istanbul) from the Ottoman Sultan. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_107

In 1863, at the time of his removal from Baghdad, Baháʼu'lláh first announced his claim of prophethood to his family and followers, which he said came to him years earlier while in a dungeon of Tehran. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_108

From the time of the initial exile from Iran, tensions grew between him and Subh-i-Azal, the appointed leader of the Bábís, who did not recognize Baháʼu'lláh's claim. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_109

Throughout the rest of his life Baháʼu'lláh gained the allegiance of most of the Bábís, who came to be known as Baháʼís. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_110

He spent less than four months in Constantinople. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_111

After receiving chastising letters from Baháʼu'lláh, Ottoman authorities turned against him and put him under house arrest in Adrianople (now Edirne), where he remained for four years, until a royal decree of 1868 banished all Bábís to either Cyprus or ʻAkká. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_112

It was in or near the Ottoman penal colony of ʻAkká, in present-day Israel, that Baháʼu'lláh spent the remainder of his life. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_113

After initially strict and harsh confinement, he was allowed to live in a home near ʻAkká, while still officially a prisoner of that city. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_114

He died there in 1892. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_115

Baháʼís regard his resting place at Bahjí as the Qiblih to which they turn in prayer each day. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_116

He produced over 18,000 works in his lifetime, in both Arabic and Persian, of which only 8% have been translated into English. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_117

During the period in Adrianople, he began declaring his mission as a Messenger of God in letters to the world's religious and secular rulers, including Pope Pius IX, Napoleon III, and Queen Victoria. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_118

ʻAbdu'l-Bahá Baháʼí Faith_section_13

Main article: ʻAbdu'l-Bahá Baháʼí Faith_sentence_119

ʻAbbás Effendi was Baháʼu'lláh's eldest son, known by the title of ʻAbdu'l-Bahá (Servant of Bahá). Baháʼí Faith_sentence_120

His father left a will that appointed ʻAbdu'l-Bahá as the leader of the Baháʼí community, and designated him as the "Centre of the Covenant", "Head of the Faith", and the sole authoritative interpreter of Baháʼu'lláh's writings. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_121

ʻAbdu'l-Bahá had shared his father's long exile and imprisonment, which continued until ʻAbdu'l-Bahá's own release as a result of the Young Turk Revolution in 1908. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_122

Following his release he led a life of travelling, speaking, teaching, and maintaining correspondence with communities of believers and individuals, expounding the principles of the Baháʼí Faith. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_123

There are over 27,000 extant documents by ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, mostly letters, of which only a fraction have been translated into English. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_124

Among the more well known are The Secret of Divine Civilization, the Tablet to Auguste-Henri Forel, and Some Answered Questions. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_125

Additionally notes taken of a number of his talks were published in various volumes like Paris Talks during his journeys to the West. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_126

Shoghi Effendi Baháʼí Faith_section_14

Main article: Shoghi Effendi Baháʼí Faith_sentence_127

Baháʼu'lláh's Kitáb-i-Aqdas and The Will and Testament of ʻAbdu'l-Bahá are foundational documents of the Baháʼí administrative order. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_128

Baháʼu'lláh established the elected Universal House of Justice, and ʻAbdu'l-Bahá established the appointed hereditary Guardianship and clarified the relationship between the two institutions. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_129

In his Will, ʻAbdu'l-Bahá appointed Shoghi Effendi, his eldest grandson, as the first Guardian of the Baháʼí Faith. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_130

Shoghi Effendi served for 36 years as the head of the religion until his death. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_131

Shoghi Effendi throughout his lifetime translated Baháʼí texts; developed global plans for the expansion of the Baháʼí community; developed the Baháʼí World Centre; carried on a voluminous correspondence with communities and individuals around the world; and built the administrative structure of the religion, preparing the community for the election of the Universal House of Justice. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_132

He unexpectedly died after a brief illness on 4 November 1957, in London, England, under conditions that did not allow for a successor to be appointed. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_133

In 1937, Shoghi Effendi launched a seven-year plan for the Baháʼís of North America, followed by another in 1946. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_134

In 1953, he launched the first international plan, the Ten Year World Crusade. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_135

This plan included extremely ambitious goals for the expansion of Baháʼí communities and institutions, the translation of Baháʼí texts into several new languages, and the sending of Baháʼí pioneers into previously unreached nations. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_136

He announced in letters during the Ten Year Crusade that it would be followed by other plans under the direction of the Universal House of Justice, which was elected in 1963 at the culmination of the Crusade. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_137

The House of Justice then launched a nine-year plan in 1964, and a series of subsequent multi-year plans of varying length and goals followed, guiding the direction of the international Baháʼí community. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_138

Universal House of Justice Baháʼí Faith_section_15

Main article: Universal House of Justice Baháʼí Faith_sentence_139

Since 1963, the Universal House of Justice has been the elected head of the Baháʼí Faith. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_140

The general functions of this body are defined through the writings of Baháʼu'lláh and clarified in the writings of Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_141

These functions include teaching and education, implementing Baháʼí laws, addressing social issues, and caring for the weak and the poor. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_142

The House of Justice directs the work of the Baháʼí community through a series of multi-year international plans that began with a nine-year plan in 1964. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_143

In the current plan, the House of Justice encourages the Baháʼís around the world to focus on capacity building through children's classes, junior youth groups, devotional gatherings, and study circles. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_144

Additional lines of action include social action and participation in the prevalent discourses of society. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_145

The years from 2001 until 2021 represent four successive five-year plans, culminating in the centennial anniversary of the passing of ʻAbdu'l-Bahá. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_146

Annually, on 21 April, the Universal House of Justice sends a 'Ridván' message to the worldwide Baháʼí community, that updates Baháʼís on current developments and provides further guidance for the year to come. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_147

At local, regional, and national levels, Baháʼís elect members to nine-person Spiritual Assemblies, which run the affairs of the religion. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_148

There are also appointed individuals working at various levels, including locally and internationally, which perform the function of propagating the teachings and protecting the community. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_149

The latter do not serve as clergy, which the Baháʼí Faith does not have. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_150

The Universal House of Justice remains the supreme governing body of the Baháʼí Faith, and its 9 members are elected every five years by the members of all National Spiritual Assemblies. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_151

Any male Baháʼí, 21 years or older, is eligible to be elected to the Universal House of Justice; all other positions are open to male and female Baháʼís. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_152

Demographics Baháʼí Faith_section_16

Main article: Baháʼí Faith by continent Baháʼí Faith_sentence_153

See also: Baháʼí statistics Baháʼí Faith_sentence_154

A Baháʼí-published document reported 4.74 million Baháʼís in 1986 growing at a rate of 4.4%. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_155

Baháʼí sources since 1991 usually estimate the worldwide Baháʼí population to be above 5 million. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_156

The World Christian Encyclopedia estimated 7.1 million Baháʼís in the world in 2000, representing 218 countries, and 7.3 million in 2010 with the same source. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_157

They further state: "The Baha'i Faith is the only religion to have grown faster in every United Nations region over the past 100 years than the general population; Bahaʼi was thus the fastest-growing religion between 1910 and 2010, growing at least twice as fast as the population of almost every UN region." Baháʼí Faith_sentence_158

This source's only systematic flaw was to consistently have a higher estimate of Christians than other cross-national data sets. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_159

The Baháʼí Faith is currently the largest religious minority in Iran, Panama and Belize, the second largest international religion in Bolivia, Zambia, and Papua New Guinea; and the third largest international religion in Chad and Kenya. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_160

According to The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2004: Baháʼí Faith_sentence_161

The Baháʼí Faith is a medium-sized religion and was listed in The Britannica Book of the Year (1992–present) as the second most widespread of the world's independent religions in terms of the number of countries represented. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_162

According to Britannica, the Baháʼí Faith (as of 2010) is established in 221 countries and territories and has an estimated seven million adherents worldwide. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_163

Additionally, Baháʼís have self-organized in most of the nations of the world. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_164

The Baháʼí religion was ranked by Foreign Policy magazine as the world's second fastest growing religion by percentage (1.7%) in 2007. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_165

Social practices Baháʼí Faith_section_17

See also: Baháʼí laws Baháʼí Faith_sentence_166

Exhortations Baháʼí Faith_section_18

The following are a few examples from Baháʼu'lláh's teachings on personal conduct that are required or encouraged of his followers: Baháʼí Faith_sentence_167

Baháʼí Faith_unordered_list_1

  • Baháʼís over the age of 15 should individually recite an obligatory prayer each day, using fixed words and form.Baháʼí Faith_item_1_13
  • In addition to the daily obligatory prayer, Baháʼís should offer daily devotional prayer and to meditate and study sacred scripture.Baháʼí Faith_item_1_14
  • Adult Baháʼís should observe a Nineteen-Day Fast each year during daylight hours in March, with certain exemptions.Baháʼí Faith_item_1_15
  • There are specific requirements for Baháʼí burial that include a specified prayer to be read at the interment. Embalming or cremating the body is strongly discouraged.Baháʼí Faith_item_1_16
  • Baháʼís should make a 19% voluntary payment on any wealth in excess of what is necessary to live comfortably, after the remittance of any outstanding debt. The payments go to the Universal House of Justice.Baháʼí Faith_item_1_17

Prohibitions Baháʼí Faith_section_19

The following are a few examples from Baháʼu'lláh's teachings on personal conduct that are prohibited or discouraged. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_168

Baháʼí Faith_unordered_list_2

  • Backbiting and gossip are prohibited and denounced.Baháʼí Faith_item_2_18
  • Drinking or selling alcohol is forbidden.Baháʼí Faith_item_2_19
  • Sexual intercourse is only permitted between a husband and wife, and thus premarital, extramarital, or homosexual intercourse are forbidden. (See also Homosexuality and the Baháʼí Faith)Baháʼí Faith_item_2_20
  • Abstaining from partisan politics is required.Baháʼí Faith_item_2_21
  • Begging as a profession is forbidden.Baháʼí Faith_item_2_22

The observance of personal laws, such as prayer or fasting, is the sole responsibility of the individual. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_169

There are, however, occasions when a Baháʼí might be administratively expelled from the community for a public disregard of the laws, or gross immorality. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_170

Such expulsions are administered by the National Spiritual Assembly and do not involve shunning. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_171

While some of the laws from the Kitáb-i-Aqdas are applicable at the present time, others are dependent upon the existence of a predominantly Baháʼí society, such as the punishments for arson or murder. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_172

The laws, when not in direct conflict with the civil laws of the country of residence, are binding on every Baháʼí. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_173

Marriage Baháʼí Faith_section_20

Main article: Baháʼí marriage Baháʼí Faith_sentence_174

The purpose of marriage in the Baháʼí faith is mainly to foster spiritual harmony, fellowship and unity between a man and a woman and to provide a stable and loving environment for the rearing of children. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_175

The Baháʼí teachings on marriage call it a fortress for well-being and salvation and place marriage and the family as the foundation of the structure of human society. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_176

Baháʼu'lláh highly praised marriage, discouraged divorce, and required chastity outside of marriage; Baháʼu'lláh taught that a husband and wife should strive to improve the spiritual life of each other. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_177

Interracial marriage is also highly praised throughout Baháʼí scripture. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_178

Baháʼís intending to marry are asked to obtain a thorough understanding of the other's character before deciding to marry. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_179

Although parents should not choose partners for their children, once two individuals decide to marry, they must receive the consent of all living biological parents, whether they are Baháʼí or not. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_180

The Baháʼí marriage ceremony is simple; the only compulsory part of the wedding is the reading of the wedding vows prescribed by Baháʼu'lláh which both the groom and the bride read, in the presence of two witnesses. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_181

The vows are "We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God." Baháʼí Faith_sentence_182

Work Baháʼí Faith_section_21

Baháʼu'lláh prohibited a mendicant and ascetic lifestyle. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_183

Monasticism is forbidden, and Baháʼís are taught to practice spirituality while engaging in useful work. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_184

The importance of self-exertion and service to humanity in one's spiritual life is emphasised further in Baháʼu'lláh's writings, where he states that work done in the spirit of service to humanity enjoys a rank equal to that of prayer and worship in the sight of God. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_185

Places of worship Baháʼí Faith_section_22

Main article: Baháʼí House of Worship Baháʼí Faith_sentence_186

Most Baháʼí meetings occur in individuals' homes, local Baháʼí centers, or rented facilities. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_187

Worldwide, as of 2018, ten Baháʼí Houses of Worship, including eight Mother Temples and two local Houses of Worship have been built and a further five are planned for construction. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_188

Two of these houses of worship are national while the other three are going to be local temples. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_189

Baháʼí writings refer to an institution called a "Mas͟hriqu'l-Ad͟hkár" (Dawning-place of the Mention of God), which is to form the center of a complex of institutions including a hospital, university, and so on. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_190

The first ever Mas͟hriqu'l-Ad͟hkár in ʻIshqábád, Turkmenistan, has been the most complete House of Worship. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_191

Calendar Baháʼí Faith_section_23

Main article: Baháʼí calendar Baháʼí Faith_sentence_192

The Baháʼí calendar is based upon the calendar established by the Báb. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_193

The year consists of 19 months, each having 19 days, with four or five intercalary days, to make a full solar year. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_194

The Baháʼí New Year corresponds to the traditional Iranian New Year, called Naw Rúz, and occurs on the vernal equinox, near 21 March, at the end of the month of fasting. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_195

Baháʼí communities gather at the beginning of each month at a meeting called a Feast for worship, consultation and socializing. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_196

Each of the 19 months is given a name which is an attribute of God; some examples include Baháʼ (Splendour), ʻIlm (Knowledge), and Jamál (Beauty). Baháʼí Faith_sentence_197

The Baháʼí week is familiar in that it consists of seven days, with each day of the week also named after an attribute of God. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_198

Baháʼís observe 11 Holy Days throughout the year, with work suspended on 9 of these. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_199

These days commemorate important anniversaries in the history of the religion. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_200

Symbols Baháʼí Faith_section_24

Main article: Baháʼí symbols Baháʼí Faith_sentence_201

The symbols of the religion are derived from the Arabic word Baháʼ (بهاء "splendor" or "glory"), with a numerical value of 9, which is why the most common symbol is the nine-pointed star. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_202

The ringstone symbol and calligraphy of the Greatest Name are also often encountered. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_203

The former consists of two five-pointed stars interspersed with a stylized Baháʼ whose shape is meant to recall the three onenesses, while the latter is a calligraphic rendering of the phrase Yá Baháʼu'l-Abhá (يا بهاء الأبهى "O Glory of the Most Glorious! Baháʼí Faith_sentence_204

"). Baháʼí Faith_sentence_205

The five-pointed star is the official symbol of the Baháʼí Faith, known as the Haykal ("temple"). Baháʼí Faith_sentence_206

It was initiated and established by the Báb and various works were written in calligraphy shaped into a five-pointed star. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_207

Socio-economic development Baháʼí Faith_section_25

Main article: Socio-economic development (Baháʼí) Baháʼí Faith_sentence_208

Since its inception the Baháʼí Faith has had involvement in socio-economic development beginning by giving greater freedom to women, promulgating the promotion of female education as a priority concern, and that involvement was given practical expression by creating schools, agricultural co-ops, and clinics. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_209

The religion entered a new phase of activity when a message of the Universal House of Justice dated 20 October 1983 was released. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_210

Baháʼís were urged to seek out ways, compatible with the Baháʼí teachings, in which they could become involved in the social and economic development of the communities in which they lived. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_211

Worldwide in 1979 there were 129 officially recognized Baháʼí socio-economic development projects. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_212

By 1987, the number of officially recognized development projects had increased to 1482. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_213

Current initiatives of social action include activities in areas like health, sanitation, education, gender equality, arts and media, agriculture, and the environment. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_214

Educational projects include schools, which range from village tutorial schools to large secondary schools, and some universities. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_215

By 2017 there were an estimated 40,000 small scale projects, 1,400 sustained projects, and 135 Baháʼí inspired organizations. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_216

United Nations Baháʼí Faith_section_26

Baháʼu'lláh wrote of the need for world government in this age of humanity's collective life. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_217

Because of this emphasis the international Baháʼí community has chosen to support efforts of improving international relations through organizations such as the League of Nations and the United Nations, with some reservations about the present structure and constitution of the UN. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_218

The Baháʼí International Community is an agency under the direction of the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, and has consultative status with the following organizations: Baháʼí Faith_sentence_219

Baháʼí Faith_unordered_list_3

The Baháʼí International Community has offices at the United Nations in New York and Geneva and representations to United Nations regional commissions and other offices in Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Nairobi, Rome, Santiago, and Vienna. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_220

In recent years, an Office of the Environment and an Office for the Advancement of Women were established as part of its United Nations Office. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_221

The Baháʼí Faith has also undertaken joint development programs with various other United Nations agencies. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_222

In the 2000 Millennium Forum of the United Nations a Baháʼí was invited as the only non-governmental speaker during the summit. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_223

Persecution Baháʼí Faith_section_27

Main article: Persecution of Baháʼís Baháʼí Faith_sentence_224

Baháʼís continue to be persecuted in some majority-Islamic countries, whose leaders do not recognize the Baháʼí Faith as an independent religion, but rather as apostasy from Islam. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_225

The most severe persecutions have occurred in Iran, where more than 200 Baháʼís were executed between 1978 and 1998. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_226

The rights of Baháʼís have been restricted to greater or lesser extents in numerous other countries, including Egypt, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Morocco, Yemen, and several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_227

Iran Baháʼí Faith_section_28

The marginalization of the Iranian Baháʼís by current governments is rooted in historical efforts by Muslim clergy to persecute the religious minority. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_228

When the Báb started attracting a large following, the clergy hoped to stop the movement from spreading by stating that its followers were enemies of God. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_229

These clerical directives led to mob attacks and public executions. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_230

Starting in the twentieth century, in addition to repression aimed at individual Baháʼís, centrally directed campaigns that targeted the entire Baháʼí community and its institutions were initiated. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_231

In one case in Yazd in 1903 more than 100 Baháʼís were killed. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_232

Baháʼí schools, such as the Tarbiyat boys' and girls' schools in Tehran, were closed in the 1930s and 1940s, Baháʼí marriages were not recognized and Baháʼí texts were censored. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_233

During the reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to divert attention from economic difficulties in Iran and from a growing nationalist movement, a campaign of persecution against the Baháʼís was instituted. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_234

An approved and coordinated anti-Baháʼí campaign (to incite public passion against the Baháʼís) started in 1955 and it included the spreading of anti-Baháʼí propaganda on national radio stations and in official newspapers. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_235

During that campaign, initiated by Mulla Muhammad Taghi Falsafi, the Baha'i center in Tehran was demolished at the orders of Tehran military governor, General Timor Bakhtiar. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_236

In the late 1970s the Shah's regime consistently lost legitimacy due to criticism that it was pro-Western. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_237

As the anti-Shah movement gained ground and support, revolutionary propaganda was spread which alleged that some of the Shah's advisors were Baháʼís. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_238

Baháʼís were portrayed as economic threats, and as supporters of Israel and the West, and societal hostility against the Baháʼís increased. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_239

Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 Iranian Baháʼís have regularly had their homes ransacked or have been banned from attending university or from holding government jobs, and several hundred have received prison sentences for their religious beliefs, most recently for participating in study circles. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_240

Baháʼí cemeteries have been desecrated and property has been seized and occasionally demolished, including the House of Mírzá Buzurg, Baháʼu'lláh's father. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_241

The House of the Báb in Shiraz, one of three sites to which Baháʼís perform pilgrimage, has been destroyed twice. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_242

In May 2018, the Iranian authorities expelled a young woman student from university of Isfahan because she was Baháʼí. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_243

In March 2018, two more Baháʼí students were expelled from universities in the cities of Zanjan and Gilan because of their religion. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_244

According to a US panel, attacks on Baháʼís in Iran increased under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_245

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights revealed an October 2005 confidential letter from Command Headquarters of the Armed Forces of Iran ordering its members to identify Baháʼís and to monitor their activities. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_246

Due to these actions, the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights stated on 20 March 2006, that she "also expresses concern that the information gained as a result of such monitoring will be used as a basis for the increased persecution of, and discrimination against, members of the Baháʼí faith, in violation of international standards. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_247

The Special Rapporteur is concerned that this latest development indicates that the situation with regard to religious minorities in Iran is, in fact, deteriorating." Baháʼí Faith_sentence_248

On 14 May 2008, members of an informal body known as the "Friends" that oversaw the needs of the Baháʼí community in Iran were arrested and taken to Evin prison. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_249

The Friends court case has been postponed several times, but was finally underway on 12 January 2010. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_250

Other observers were not allowed in the court. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_251

Even the defence lawyers, who for two years have had minimal access to the defendants, had difficulty entering the courtroom. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_252

The chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said that it seems that the government has already predetermined the outcome of the case and is violating international human rights law. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_253

Further sessions were held on 7 February 2010, 12 April 2010 and 12 June 2010. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_254

On 11 August 2010 it became known that the court sentence was 20 years imprisonment for each of the seven prisoners which was later reduced to ten years. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_255

After the sentence, they were transferred to Gohardasht prison. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_256

In March 2011 the sentences were reinstated to the original 20 years. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_257

On 3 January 2010, Iranian authorities detained ten more members of the Baha'i minority, reportedly including Leva Khanjani, granddaughter of Jamaloddin Khanjani, one of seven Baha'i leaders jailed since 2008 and in February, they arrested his son, Niki Khanjani. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_258

The Iranian government claims that the Baháʼí Faith is not a religion, but is instead a political organization, and hence refuses to recognize it as a minority religion. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_259

However, the government has never produced convincing evidence supporting its characterization of the Baháʼí community. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_260

The Iranian government also accuses the Baháʼí Faith of being associated with Zionism. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_261

These accusations against the Baháʼís have no basis in historical fact, and the accusations are used by the Iranian government to use the Baháʼís as "scapegoats". Baháʼí Faith_sentence_262

In fact it was the Iranian leader Naser al-Din Shah Qajar who banished Baháʼu'lláh from Iran to the Ottoman Empire and Baháʼu'lláh was later exiled by the Ottoman Sultan, at the behest of the Iranian Shah, to territories further away from Iran and finally to Acre in Syria, which only a century later was incorporated into the state of Israel. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_263

Egypt Baháʼí Faith_section_29

During the 1920s Egypt's religious Tribunal recognized the Baha'i Faith as a new, independent religion, totally separate from Islam, due to the nature of the 'laws, principles and beliefs' of the Baha'is. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_264

At the same time the Tribunal condemned "in most unequivocal and emphatic language the followers of Baha'u'llah as the believers in heresy, offensive and injurious to Islam, and wholly incompatible with the accepted doctrines and practice of its orthodox adherents." Baháʼí Faith_sentence_265

Baháʼí institutions and community activities have been illegal under Egyptian law since 1960. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_266

All Baháʼí community properties, including Baháʼí centers, libraries, and cemeteries, have been confiscated by the government and fatwas have been issued charging Baháʼís with apostasy. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_267

The Egyptian identification card controversy began in the 1990s when the government modernized the electronic processing of identity documents, which introduced a de facto requirement that documents must list the person's religion as Muslim, Christian, or Jewish (the only three religions officially recognized by the government). Baháʼí Faith_sentence_268

Consequently, Baháʼís were unable to obtain government identification documents (such as national identification cards, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage or divorce certificates, or passports) necessary to exercise their rights in their country unless they lied about their religion, which conflicts with Baháʼí religious principle. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_269

Without documents, they could not be employed, educated, treated in hospitals, travel outside of the country, or vote, among other hardships. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_270

Following a protracted legal process culminating in a court ruling favorable to the Baháʼís, the interior minister of Egypt released a decree on 14 April 2009, amending the law to allow Egyptians who are not Muslim, Christian, or Jewish to obtain identification documents that list a dash in place of one of the three recognized religions. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_271

The first identification cards were issued to two Baháʼís under the new decree on 8 August 2009. Baháʼí Faith_sentence_272

See also Baháʼí Faith_section_30

Baháʼí Faith_unordered_list_4


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baháʼí Faith.