05 Apr 2011
The Bahá'í Faith"The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens."
Founded more than a 150 years ago, the Bahá'í Faith has grown from an obscure movement in the Middle East to its present status as an independent world religion. It is based on the claim of Bahá'u'lláh to be the Messenger of God to the age of humanity's maturity, an age which was anticipated in all of the scriptural traditions of humanity's past. The Bahá'í Faith is a worldwide religion that "does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world." Despite the wide ethnic and cultural diversity of its adherents, the Faith has been able to maintain the unity of its believers without forming any sects. The watchword is "unity in diversity."
The Bahá'ís believe that creation is sacred and whole, and that the character of the human being is noble and spiritual in nature. With this understanding, humans can become creative participants in the evolution of life in order to achieve an ecologically sustainable society. Bahá'ís believe that the reason for our existence is to know and love God, and that we have been created out of God's love for us.
O SON OF MAN!
I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.
In the Bahá'í Faith, some of the basic principles are:
- The abandonment of prejudices
- The agreement of science and religion
- Promoting universal education
- The elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty
- The independent investigation of the truth
- Equality of men and women
Interactive Programs Undertaken by Bahá'í Communities
Bahá'u'lláh's teachings are for all humanity. As a result, four main activities undertaken by Bahá'í communities are open to the wider community and invite people of any race or religion to join them. See the core activities page for more information about these activities.
Bahá'í Community Life
A focus of local Bahá'í community life is the regular meeting called the "Nineteen Day Feast". This feast is held every 19 days and is in three parts: a devotional part, with prayers and readings from the Bahá'í Writings; an administrative part, for sharing news and discussing relevant issues; a social part to encourage fellowship.
Prayer and fasting are considered as spiritual practices for Bahá'ís. Bahá'u'lláh prescribed a period of fasting each year (2-20 March) when Bahá'ís should not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. The day after the Fast (21 March) is the Bahá'í New Year, a time of celebration.
Bahá'ís are free to marry a partner of their own choice (and that partner can be of any religion, or none). However, as part of the purpose of marriage is the promotion of unity between families, Bahá'í marriage is conditioned on the consent of all living parents and the bride and groom.
Bahá'í Administrative Order
The Bahá'í community, inspired by Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, is striving to build a new world order that demonstrates practical solutions to the challenges faced by society. In the Bahá'í Faith there are no clergy or holy men. However, there are local, national and international levels of structured administration ordained by Bahá'u'lláh. Each governing body consists of 9 members elected annually by secret ballot with no nominations or electioneering, referred to as a ‘Spiritual Assembly'. The consultation within this spiritual assembly involves full and frank discussion of issues under consideration. Matters are discussed with a desire to ascertain the facts and to arrive at a decision that is based on spiritual principles and is unencumbered by personal attachment to a point of view. The international body is referred to as the Universal House of Justice, elected every five years, with its seat on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel.
Bahá'u'lláh suffered a life of imprisonment and banishment until his passing in 1892 in His 75th year, in the prison city of 'Akká. He went through all this to give mankind teachings of world unity and the abandonment of prejudice of all kinds and He proclaimed His mission to establish a new world order. To protect the Bahá'í community from sectarianism, Bahá'u'lláh, in His will, appointed His eldest son, Abdu'l-Bahá to be the leader of the Bahá'í community and to be the sole interpreter of the Bahá'í Writings.
Today Bahá'u'lláh's teachings have spread in over 230 countries, islands and dependencies in the world. This worldwide community of Bahá'ís is striving on a daily basis to put His teachings into practice and to bring about world peace and unity.
More information about the Bahá'í Faith: