The Bahá’í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded in 19th-century emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá’ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories. Bahá’í, is derived from the Arabic Bahá’, meaning “glory” or “splendor”.
In the Bahá’í Faith, religious history is seen to have unfolded through a series of Divine messengers, each of whom established a religion that was suited to the needs of the time and the capacity of the people. These messengers included Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and others. For Bahá’í, the most recent messenger is Bahá’u’lláh, whose life and teachings are believed to have fulfilled the end-time promises of previous messengers and scriptures. Humanity is understood to be in a process of collective evolution, and the need of the present time is for the gradual establishment of peace, justice and unity on a global scale.
Three core principles establish a basis for Bahá’í teachings and doctrine:
1. The unity of God,
2. The unity of religion
3. The unity of humankind.
From these principles stems the belief that God periodically reveals His will through Divine messengers, whose purpose is to transform the character of humankind and develop, within those who respond, moral and spiritual qualities. Religion is thus seen as orderly, unified, and progressive from age to age.
The Bahá’í Writings describe a single, personal, inaccessible, knowledgeable, ever present, imperishable, and almighty God who is the creator of all things in the universe. Bahá’í teachings state that God is too great for humans to fully comprehend, or to create a complete and accurate image of, by themselves. Therefore, human understanding of God is achieved through His revelations. According to the Bahá’í teachings the human purpose is to learn to know and love God through such methods as prayer, reflection, and being of service to humankind.
Bahá’í notions of progressive religious revelation result in their accepting the validity of most of the world’s religions suited for the time and place in which they were established. However, certain general principles (for example, neighbourliness, or charity) are seen to be
universal and consistent. Bahá’í beliefs are sometimes described as combinations of earlier religious beliefs. Bahá’ís, however, assert that their religion is a distinct independent religion with its own Founder scriptures, teachings, laws, and history. The Bahá’í Writings state that human being has the capacity to recognize humanity’s relationship with the Creator and conform to the teachings of His Messengers. The spiritual ideal in Bahá’í belief is that through recognition and obedience, service to humanity, regular prayer and spiritual practice, the soul becomes closer to God. The Bahá’í Writings emphasize the essential equality of human beings, and the abolition of prejudice. Humanity is seen as essentially one, though highly varied; its diversity of race and culture are seen as worthy of appreciation and acceptance.
Summary of the principles of Bahá’í teachings.
- Unity of God
- Unity of all religions
- Unity of humankind – the oneness of the entire human race
- The equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of humankind is able to soar
- Elimination of all forms of prejudice whether religious, racial, class or national
- World peace
- Harmony of religion and science
- Universal compulsory education
- Obedience to government and non-involvement in partisan politics unless submission to law amounts to a denial of Faith.
- Elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty
- The independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition
- The introduction of compulsory education
- The institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations
- The glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations and
- The establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal of all mankind