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  The Baha'i Faith
   

We believe that Baha'u'llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha'i Faith, is the most recent of God's Messengers sent to guide humanity in this day. Choose any of the links below to find out more about the Baha'i Faith.

:: The Principles of the Baha'i Faith

:: Baha'u'llah, Founder of the Baha'i Faith

:: Writings of the Baha'i Faith

 

 
     
 
         
         
         
         
 
The Principles of the Baha'i Faith
   

The main theme of Baha'u'llah's message is the unity and oneness of humankind. He taught that there is only one God, that all the world's religions represent one changeless and eternal Faith of God, and that all humanity is one race, destined to live in peace and harmony. The Baha'a Faith provides a structure through which universal peace can be obtained and established in this age. Among the teachings of Baha'u'llah is that this earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.

Some Basic Teachings of the Baha'i Faith:

1. The oneness of mankind
"It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens." (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 250)

2. The oneness of religion
"All these divisions we see on all sides, all these disputes and opposition, are caused because men cling to ritual and outward observances, and forget the simple, underlying truth. It is the outward practices of religion that are so different, and it is they that cause disputes and enmity--while the reality is always the same, and one. The Reality is the Truth, and truth has no division. Truth is God's guidance, it is the light of the world, it is love, it is mercy. These attributes of truth are also human virtues inspired by the Holy Spirit." (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 120-21)

3. Independent investigation of truth
"Furthermore, know ye that God has created in man the power of reason, whereby man is enabled to investigate reality. God has not intended man to imitate blindly his fathers and ancestors. He has endowed him with mind, or the faculty of reasoning, by the exercise of which he is to investigate and discover the truth, and that which he finds real and true he must accept." (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 291)

4. Religion as a source of unity
"He (Baha'u'llah) sets forth a new principle for this day in the announcement that religion must be the cause of unity, harmony and agreement among mankind. If it be the cause of discord and hostility, if it leads to separation and creates conflict, the absence of religion would be preferable in the world." (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith, p. 247)

5. The evolutionary nature of religion
Baha'a's view religion as a progressive, evolutionary process which needs to be updated as humanity evolves mentally, socially, and spiritually. Every so often a new Prophet is sent to humanity to update religion to the current needs of mankind. These Prophets bring essentially the same spiritual message to mankind; in a form that meets the needs of the people of Their time. Baha'a's believe that Baha'u'llah has brought an updated message for mankind today.

6. Harmony between religion, science and reason
"Religion and science are the two wings upon which man's intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress. It is not possible to fly with one wing alone! Should a man try to fly with the wing of religion alone he would quickly fall into the quagmire of superstition, whilst on the other hand, with the wing of science alone he would also make no progress, but fall into the despairing slough of materialism." (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 143)

7. Peaceful consultation as a means for resolving differences
In the Baha'a Faith, difference of opinion is not squelched, in fact it is encouraged. "The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions" (Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 87). However, differences of opinion can be expressed in a way that doesn't humiliate another human being. The Baha'i principle of consultation requires that an individual be detached from his or her opinions and always be open to the truth, from whoever or wherever it comes from.

8. An international auxiliary language
"It behoveth the sovereigns of the world may God assist them or the ministers of the earth to take counsel together and to adopt one of the existing languages or a new one to be taught to children in schools throughout the world, and likewise one script. Thus the whole earth will come to be regarded as one country." (Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 22.)

9. Universal education
"Unto every father hath been enjoined the instruction of his son and daughter in the art of reading and writing and in all that hath been laid down in the Holy Tablet. He that putteth away that which is commanded unto him, the Trustees of the House of Justice are then to recover from him that which is required for their instruction, if he be wealthy, and if not the matter devolveth upon the House of Justice. Verily, have We made it a shelter for the poor and needy. He that bringeth up his son or the son of another, it is as though he hath brought up a son of Mine; upon him rest My Glory, My Loving-Kindness, My Mercy, that have compassed the world." (Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 128)

10. The elimination of all forms of prejudice
"...again, as to religious, racial, national and political bias: all these prejudices strike at the very root of human life; one and all they beget bloodshed, and the ruination of the world. So long as these prejudices survive, there will be continuous and fearsome wars." (Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 249)

11. Equality of men and women
"To accept and observe a distinction which God has not intended in creation is ignorance and superstition. The fact which is to be considered, however, is that woman, having formerly been deprived, must now be allowed equal opportunities with man for education and training. There must be no difference in their education. Until the reality of equality between man and woman is fully established and attained, the highest social development of mankind is not possible." (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 76)

12. The abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty
"O Ye Rich Ones on Earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease." (The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, p.41.) "We see amongst us men who are overburdened with riches on the one hand, and on the other those unfortunate ones who starve with nothing; those who possess several stately palaces, and those who have not where to lay their head. Some we find with numerous courses of costly and dainty food; whilst others can scarce find sufficient crusts to keep them alive. Whilst some are clothed in velvets, furs and fine linen, others have insufficient, poor and thin garments with which to protect them from the cold. This condition of affairs is wrong and must be remedied. Now the remedy must be carefully undertaken. It cannot be done by bringing to pass absolute equality between men." (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p.151.

13. Universal peace
"The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all- embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized. The rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend it, and, participating in its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world's Great Peace amongst men. Such a peace demandeth that the Great Powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquillity of the peoples of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves. Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent him. If this be done, the nations of the world will no longer require any armaments, except for the purpose of preserving the security of their realms and of maintaining internal order within their territories." (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 249)

 

 

 
     
 
         
         
         
         
  BAHA'U'LLAH, FOUNDER OF THE BAHA'I FAITH
   

"The face of him on whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one's very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow.... No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!"

Bahá'u'lláh was thus described by the well-known Cambridge University Orientalist Edward Granville Browne in 1890. Bahá'u'lláh had, at that time, been a prisoner and an exile for almost 40 years and His teachings were shrouded in obscurity; today He is recognized by millions of followers around the world as the Manifestation of God or Divine Teacher for this age. According to Bahá'í belief, Manifestations of God, including Moses, Abraham, Christ, Muhammad, Krishna, and Buddha, have appeared at intervals throughout history to found the world's great religious systems. They have been sent by a loving Creator to enable us to know and to worship Him and to bring human civilization to ever higher levels of achievement.

The station of these Manifestations is unique in creation. Their essential nature is twofold: they are at once human and divine. But they are not identical with God , the Creator, Who is Unknowable. Of God, Bahá'u'lláh has written,

He, in truth, hath, throughout eternity, been one in His Essence, one in His attributes, one in His works. Any and every comparison is applicable only to His creatures, and all conceptions of association are conceptions that belong solely to those that serve Him. Immeasurably exalted is His Essence above the descriptions of His creatures. He, alone, occupieth the Seat of transcendent majesty, of supreme and inaccessible glory. The birds of men's hearts, however high they soar, can never hope to attain the heights of His unknowable Essence. It is He Who hath called into being the whole of creation, Who hath caused every created thing to spring forth at His behest.1
Furthermore, Bahá'u'lláh, addressing God in a prayer, says:

Exalted, immeasurably exalted art Thou above any attempt to measure the greatness of Thy Cause, above any comparison that one may seek to make, above the efforts of the human tongue to utter its import! From everlasting Thou hast existed, alone with no one else beside Thee, and wilt, to everlasting, continue to remain the same, in the sublimity of Thine essence and the inaccessible heights of Thy glory.
And when Thou didst purpose to make Thyself known unto men, Thou didst successively reveal the Manifestations of Thy Cause, and ordained each to be a sign of Thy Revelation among Thy people, and the Day-Spring of Thine invisible Self amidst Thy creatures...2

The Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, Bahji, near Acre, Israel.
Describing the relationship between the Manifestations of God and Their Creator, Bahá'u'lláh used the analogy of the mirror: God is as the Sun, and the Manifestations are as Mirrors that reflect that divine light -- but they are in no way to be considered as identical to that Sun:

These sanctified Mirrors...are, one and all, the Exponents on earth of Him Who is the central Orb of the universe, its Essence and ultimate Purpose. From Him proceed their knowledge and power; from Him is derived their sovereignty. The beauty of their countenance is but a reflection of His image, and their revelation a sign of His deathless glory.3

Bahá'u'lláh's central message for humanity in this day is one of unity and justice. "The best beloved of all things in My sight is justice,"4 He wrote, and "The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens"5 in two often-quoted passages. He also stated, "The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established."6 This is the prescription of God, the divine and all-knowing Physician, for our ailing world.

While such statements have become part of mainstream thinking in the contemporary world, we can only imagine the startling effect they would have had on someone like E.G. Browne, to whom Bahá'u'lláh uttered the following remarkable statement:

Thou hast come to see a prisoner and an exile.... We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; yet they deem us a stirrer-up of strife and sedition worthy of bondage and banishment.... That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled -- what harm is there in this? ...Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the `Most Great Peace' shall come...
Born into a noble family in nineteenth century Persia, Bahá'u'lláh's destiny would seem to have been one of wealth and ease. Yet, from an early age He showed little interest in following in His father's footsteps at the Shah's court, preferring to spend His time and resources in ministering to the poor. Later, His recognition of the religion of the Báb , which arose in 1844 in Persia and was destined to fulfil the prophecies of Islam, caused Him to be cast into prison and subsequently exiled.

In His writings, the Báb alluded to the imminent coming of the Promised One foretold in all the world's religions -- a role claimed by Bahá'u'lláh. "This is the King of Days," Bahá'u'lláh thus extols the age that has witnessed the advent of His Revelation, "the Day that hath seen the coming of the Best-beloved, Him Who through all eternity hath been acclaimed the Desire of the World."7 "I am the One," He in another connection affirms, "Whom the tongue of Isaiah hath extolled, the One with Whose name both the Torah and the Evangel were adorned."8 Of Himself, He wrote: "Naught is seen in My temple but the Temple of God, and in My beauty but His Beauty, and in My being but His Being, and in My self but His Self, and in My movement but His Movement, and in My acquiescence but His Acquiescence, and in My pen but His Pen, the Mighty, the All-Praised. There hath not been in My soul but the Truth, and in Myself naught could be seen but God."9 And of His mission, He said:

And when the entire creation was stirred up, and the whole earth was convulsed, and the sweet savors of Thy name, the All-Praised, had almost ceased to breathe over Thy realms, and the winds of Thy mercy had well-nigh been stilled throughout Thy dominions, Thou didst, through the power of Thy might, raise me up among Thy servants, and bid me to show forth Thy sovereignty amidst Thy people. Thereupon I arose before all Thy creatures, strengthened by Thy help and Thy power, and summoned all the multitudes unto Thee, and announced unto all Thy servants Thy favors and Thy gifts, and invited them to turn towards this Ocean, every drop of the waters of which crieth out, proclaiming unto all that are in heaven and on earth that He is, in truth, the Fountain of all life, and the Quickener of the entire creation, and the Object of the adoration of all worlds, and the Best-Beloved of every understanding heart, and the Desire of all them that are nigh unto Thee.10
It was during His initial imprisonment that Bahá'u'lláh first experienced divine revelation. Of it, He wrote:

During the days I lay in the prison of Tihran, though the galling weight of the chains and the stench-filled air allowed Me but little sleep, still in those infrequent moments of slumber I felt as if something flowed from the crown of My head over My breast, even as a mighty torrent that precipitateth itself upon the earth from the summit of a lofty mountain. Every limb of My body would, as a result, be set afire. At such moments My tongue recited what no man could bear to hear.11
Throughout the long years of exile He endured, Bahá'u'lláh revealed divinely inspired passages equivalent to over 100 volumes. This revelation comprises mystical writings , social and ethical teachings , laws and ordinances, and a fearless proclamation of His message to the kings and rulers of the world, including Napoleon III, Queen Victoria, Pope Pius IX, the Shah of Persia, Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany, the Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, and others.

The conception of human nature found in Bahá'u'lláh's revelation is one of dignity and essential nobility. In one passage, He writes, with the voice of God, "O Son of Spirit! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created."12 Elsewhere, He states, "Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom."13 Every person, He asserts, is capable of recognizing God; all that is needed is a degree of detachment:

When the channel of the human soul is cleansed of all worldly and impeding attachments, it will unfailingly perceive the breath of the Beloved across immeasurable distances, and will, led by its perfume, attain and enter the City of Certitude.
...That city is none other than the Word of God revealed in every age and dispensation.... All the guidance, the blessings, the learning, the understanding, the faith, and certitude, conferred upon all that is in heaven and on earth, are hidden and treasured within these Cities.14

Bahá'u'lláh's Son, `Abdu'l-Bahá, who was appointed by Him as His successor, described the mission of His Father in these words:

He bore these ordeals, suffered these calamities and difficulties in order that a manifestation of selflessness and service might become apparent in the world of humanity; that the Most Great Peace should become a reality; that human souls might appear as the angels of heaven; that heavenly miracles would be wrought among men; that human faith should be strengthened and perfected; that the precious, priceless bestowal of God, the human mind, might be developed to its fullest capacity in the temple of the body; and man become the reflection and likeness of God, even as it hath been revealed in the Bible: `We shall create man in Our own image.'
Briefly, the Blessed Perfection [Bahá'u'lláh] bore all these ordeals and calamities in order that our hearts might become enkindled and radiant, our spirits be glorified, our faults become virtues, our ignorance transformed into knowledge; in order that we might attain the real fruits of humanity and acquire heavenly graces; although pilgrims upon earth we should travel the road of the heavenly kingdom; although needy and poor we might receive the treasures of life eternal. For this has He borne these difficulties and sorrows.15

Bahá'u'lláh passed from this earthly world in 1892, still nominally a prisoner in Palestine. One hundred years later, in 1992, the Bahá'í international community observed a Holy Year to commemorate the centenary of His ascension. In May of that year, a delegation of several thousand Bahá'ís from over 200 countries and territories gathered at His shrine in the Holy Land to pay homage to Him. And the following November a congress of some 27,000 followers assembled in New York City in an atmosphere of reverence and joy to celebrate the inauguration of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant which has preserved the unity of His Faith since its inception. A statement written to acquaint people everywhere with the details of Bahá'u'lláh's life and mission was also released during this special year.

We invite you to learn more about Bahá'u'lláh's life and mission; to study the prayers and sacred writings revealed by Him; and to investigate His astounding claim to be "the Promised One of All Ages" and His promise of a future when "these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the `Most Great Peace' shall come."

Notes

1. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 2d rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 193.
2. Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations of Bahá'u'lláh (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1938), p. 128.
3. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 46-49.
4. Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1985), pp. 3-4.
5. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 249-50.
6. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 286-87.
7. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, 2d rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 106.
8. The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 105.
9. The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 109.
10. Prayers and Meditations of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 104.
11. Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1979), p. 22.
12. The Hidden Words, p. 9.
13. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 260.
14. Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-qan, 3d ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 199-200.
15. `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 2d ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 28.

Copyright 2006, Bahá'í International Community

 
 
 
     
 
         
         
         
         
  THE WRITINGS OF BAHA'U'LLAH
   

:: Hidden Words

:: Four Valleys and Seven Valleys

:: Book of Certitude

:: Tablets of Baha'u'llah

:: Kitab-i-Aqdas

:: Prayers

 
 
 
     
 
         
         
         
 
 
 
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