The Baha'i Faith
The Baha'i Faith is an independent, monotheistic religion. Its founder, Bahá'u'lláh (Arabic, meaning “Glory of God”) taught that there is one God whose successive revelations to humanity have been the chief civilizing force in history. The agents of this process have been the Divine Messengers whom people have seen chiefly as the founders of separate religious systems but whose common purpose has been to bring the human race to spiritual and moral maturity.
Humanity is now coming of age. It is this that makes possible the unification of the human family and the building of a peaceful, global society. Among the principles which the Baha'i Faith promotes as vital to the achievement of this goal are:
- the abandonment of all forms of prejudice
- assurance to women of full equality of opportunity with men
- recognition of the unity and relativity of religious truth
- the elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth
- the realization of universal education
- the responsibility of each person to independently search for truth
- the establishment of a global commonwealth of nations
- recognition that true religion is in harmony with reason and the pursuit of scientific knowledge
The Baha'i World Centre in the Acre/Haifa area of Israel has been both the spiritual and administrative center of the Baha'i Faith since Bahá'u'lláh was exiled here in 1868. The Shrines (burial places) of the Báb on Mount Carmel in Haifa and of Bahá'u'lláh near Acre are the two holiest places on earth for Baha'is. There are no clergy in the Baha'i Faith; the Baha'i community governs itself by elected councils at the local, national, and international levels.
The Baha'i Faith has a worldwide population of some 5 million people. They come from more than 2,000 different tribal, racial, and ethnic groups and live in 235 countries and dependent territories. The Britannica Book of the Year (1992) referred to the Baha'i Faith as the second-most geographically widespread religion in the world, after Christianity. It originated in Iran in 1844 and has its own sacred scriptures, laws, calendar, and holy days.
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