Founder: Mirza' Ali Muhammad
The Baha'i faith arose from Islam in the country of Iran. Mirza' Ali Muhammad
(1819-1850 AD) assumed the title Bab which means the Gate. In May 23,
1844 He announced the "Declaration of the Bab." He explained
that the purpose of His mission was to herald the arrival of "One
greater than Himself", Who would fulfill the prophetic expectations of
all the great religions. This date is regarded as the founding of the Bahá'í
Faith. His followers became known as Babis. 20,000 were martyred for their
beliefs. His movement caused much religious ferment. This led to His execution
in 1850 by order of the Shah's chief minister and at the instigation of Muslim
clerics, who saw His movement as a threat to orthodox Islam.
In 1863, one of the Bab's
followers, Mirza Husayn-'Ali-i-Nuri (1817-1892), a prominent follower of the Bab
to Whom the Bab had given several indications of His future station, confided to
some of his followers and to His eldest son that He was the Manifestation
predicted by the Bab. On April 21, 1863 he began proclaiming his station openly
and publicly to the world at large. His assumed title, Baha'u'llah, by which He
is generally known, was the title the Bab used to refer to Him. The last forty
years of Baha'u'llah's life were spent in prison or in exile. The last 22 years
were spent in or near Acre, then a prison city. The world headquarters of the
Baha'i Faith is located in the Holy Land today as a result. Baha'u'llah's
son 'Abdu'l-Baha (1844-1921), was appointed by His father to be leader of the
movement after His father's death.
Baha'i scripture comprises the
writings of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, together with the writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha.
Among the better known writings of Baha'u'llah are, The Most Holy Book, The
Book of Certitude, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, The Hidden Words
and The Seven Valleys. There are many others books of Bahá'í scripture.
The focus of Baha'ism is often
popularized as "The Oneness of God, The Oneness of Religion, and the
Oneness of Humanity."
They believe that there
will eventually be a single world government, to be led by Baha'is, and
based on the Baha'is administrative framework.
They believe that
there is only one God who is the source of all creation.
The believe that God is transcendent and
unknowable. However, He has sent, and will continue to send, great prophets
to humanity, through which the Holy Spirit has revealed the "Word
of God." The Great Manifestations of God up to this time
The fact that these
prophets listed here contradict each other is paradoxically overlooked by Baha'ism.
They believe in
an essential unity of the great religions of the world. However, this does
not mean they believe the various religious creeds and doctrines are
identical. Rather, they view all religions as having sprung from the same
spiritual source. The social and outer forms of different religions vary due
to the circumstances at the time that they were founded. Other differences
in doctrine and belief can be attributed to later accretions, after the
death of the founder.
They believe that every person has an
immortal soul. Unlike everything else in creation, it is not subject to
decomposition. At death, the soul is freed to travel through the spirit
world. The latter is viewed as a "a timeless and placeless extension of
our own universe--and not some physically remote or removed place."
The Baha'i plan of
salvation is faith in Baha'u'llah
plus their own good works.
The doctrines of the
Christianity regarding the absolute authority of the Bible, doctrines on the
Godhead, deity of Jesus Christ, His Virgin Birth, vicarious atonement,
bodily resurrection, and the Second Coming are rejected by Baha'ism.