Origins & beliefs
The Baha’i Faith began in Persia on 23rd May 1844, when a person known as the Bab (Gate) proclaimed that he was a Messenger from God and also the herald of ‘the Promised One’, a messenger greater than himself. He and his followers were severely persecuted by the Persian authorities and the Bab was finally executed in 1850.
In 1863 a person known as Baha’u’llah (the Glory of God) claimed to be the one whose coming the Bab had foretold. He announced that he had come to help bring about a new age of global civilisation which would be characterised by unity and peace.
Baha’u’llah was banished from Persia, and later exiled to the prison fortress of Akka in Palestine. He died at a place called Bahji near Akka in 1892.
Baha’u’llah’s shrine in Bahji is today the holiest shrine of the Baha’i world and is both the spiritual and physical focus of the Baha’i global community.
The Baha’i Faith is an independent world religion which proclaims the oneness of God, religion and humankind. Baha’is believe that God reveals His purpose progressively through prophets such as the founders of all the major world religions which exist today.
Baha’i worshippers believe, between others, in one God, the unity of mankind and the common foundation of all religions. They also recognise the need of harmony of science and religion and establishment of a universal auxiliary language. In their eyes, the equality of opportunity for men and women is essential, so is the abolition of extremes of wealth and poverty.
Customs & worship
Customs and practices:
Baha’i custom and practice is founded on authenticated scripture written by Baha’u’llah.
- The focus of Baha’i community life is the Nineteen Day Feast when local Baha’is meet to worship, discuss the affairs of their faith and have fellowship together.
- Obligations on individual Baha’is include daily prayer and keeping a yearly nineteen day fast when no food is consumed from sunrise to sunset.
- The affairs of the Baha’i faith are administered by ‘Spiritual Assemblies’ - nine people elected by the Baha’i community.
Places of worship:
The Baha’i faith has a temple on every continent where Baha’is and people of every faith can come and worship God.
Depending on the size of their community, Baha’is may worship at their local centre or meet to worship in individual homes.
Festivals and holy days are based on the birthdays of important figures of the Baha’i faith or significant events in the history of the faith.
The birthday of Baha’u’llah, for example, would be an important holy day and is celebrated on the 12th of November.
Food and diet:
- Baha’is do not have food laws as such but are advised to eat moderately and keep to a balanced, healthy diet.
- They do not drink alcohol and drug-taking is not allowed unless prescribed by a competent doctor.
Concerns of the community:
- Anything that leads to conflict or disunity in the community or in the world.
- They are encouraged to support activities which further one or all of the principles of their faith.
- Baha’is are encouraged to protect the interests of their community and country.
- They are also expected to take on the role and responsibility of world citizens (“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens” Baha’u’llah).