The Baha’i Faith: An Introduction


The Bahá’í Faith is an independent world religion that was founded in 1844 in present-day Iran.
Today, it is the second most widespread religion geographically, with over 5
million followers in 236 countries. Bahá’ís are followers of Bahá’u’lláh, who
they believe is the most recent Manifestation of God and the promised personage
whose teachings will bring peace and prosperity to the world. The purpose of
the Bahá’í Faith is the unification of humankind.

A fundamental principle of the Bahá’í Faith is the concept of Progressive Revelation. Bahá’ís
believe that there is one God, who is the Creator of all things, yet whose
essence is unknowable. As His creation, we cannot understand Him, just as a
painting cannot understand a painter. However, we are able to know God through
His Manifestations. The Manifestations of God serve as His mouthpieces
throughout the ages, and like unto perfect mirrors that reflect the attributes
of God, they bring His guidance to humankind. Included among the Manifestations
of God are Buddha, Krishna, Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, The Báb, and – most
recently – Bahá’u’lláh. While the spiritual teachings of each of these
Manifestations of God are the same (for example, “love your neighbor” or “trust
in God”), their social laws are what
differ (for example, laws that prohibit the eating of certain foods).

Bahá’u’lláh teaches that mankind is constantly progressing, and that the Manifestations of
God have each come at a time when mankind needed new guidance, based on its progress.
For example, some of the social laws that were applicable and appropriate a
thousand years ago may not be so today. However, Bahá’ís believe that the
religions which these Manifestations of God bring are in reality a single
religion that is unfolding throughout the ages, based on the needs and
requirements of humanity at the time. Hence, the phrase, “Progressive
Revelation.” Bahá’ís believe that Bahá’u’lláh is the latest (but not the last)
of these Manifestations, and that His teachings apply to humankind in its
current stage of its development.

In their efforts to establish unity among the peoples of the world, Bahá’ís worldwide engage in
core activities, or community-building activities, with their friends and
neighbors at the grass-roots level. The core activities are not intended solely
for Bahá’í participation – indeed their purpose is to empower and unite all.
Among these activities are children’s classes, in which children learn virtues
such as love, unity, and kindness through various mediums, including games,
art, songs, and stories. Another of these core activities is the junior youth
group, an empowerment group for pre-teens, in which participants are encouraged
to develop their sense of expression, make good decisions, and serve their community.
Bahá’ís worldwide also organize devotional services, where people of all
backgrounds gather together to pray and meditate. The study circle is another
core activity, wherein youth and adults come together to discuss spiritual
concepts in a systematic, yet intimate environment of learning.

The oneness of mankind is both a fundamental principle and a goal of the Bahá’í Faith. It is
through these community-building activities, starting at the grassroots level,
that the Bahá’ís are striving to build a new civilization – a civilization
wherein peace and prosperity will reign and the unification of mankind will be

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