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Bahá'ís believe that one of the major causes of war, prejudice, and poverty since the
beginning of history has been that people have viewed these Divine Manifestations as founders of separate religious systems, when in fact their shared purpose has been to bring the entire human race to spiritual and moral maturity. In Bahá'í belief, each consecutive Messenger prophesied the Messenger to follow, and that Bahá'u'lláh's life and teachings have fulfilled the end-time promises of previous scriptures. Humanity is believed to be in a process of collective evolution, and the objective for the present era is the establishment of peace, justice and unity on a global scale.
There are four important figures in the founding of the Bahá'í Faith. The first, known as The Báb (“BOB”), was born on October 20, 1819. The second was Bahá’u’lláh Himself, born on November 12, 1817. Their relationship was very similar to that between John the Baptist and Jesus.
Both The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh were born in Persia (modern-day Iran), and both were charismatic, insightful, and spiritually gifted men. The Báb announced His presence and mission in 1844, enraging the conservative Muslim clergy by predicting the coming of a new Prophet.
A dozen years after the Báb’s executiion in 1850, Bahá’u’lláh, Himself an early follower of Bábi teachings, asserted His own claim to divine revelation as the Manifestation for the new millennium. Upon Bahá’u’lláh’s death in 1892, His son `Abdu’l-Bahá' ("AHB-dool Bah-HA") and His grandson, Shoghi Effendi ("Sho-gee ef-FEN-dee"), continued the work of establishing and sharing the Faith, traveling, lecturing, and writing dozens of volumes of Bahá'í scriptural commentary and clarification.
Upon his release from prison and exile in 1912, `Abdu’l-Bahá travelled extensively to spread the Bahá'í faith. He visited Egypt, Europe, United States, and Canada.
Shoghi Effendi established the Administration of the Bahai Faith which is comprised of local, national and international institutions. `Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi are the sole Authoritative interpreters of the writings of The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. For a short period of time following `Abdu’l-Bahá's death, his sister and Bahá’u’lláh's only daughter Bahíyyih Khánum, also known as "Greatest Holy Leaf," assumed spiritual leadership, and conducted the business affairs of the Faith at the request of Shoghi Effendi.
WHAT BAHÁ’ÍS BELIEVE
WHAT BAHÁ’ÍS BELIEVE
Unity of God
"The well-being of mankind, its peace and security are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. This unity can never be achieved so long
as the counsels which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed are suffered to pass unheeded." — Baha’u’llah, Gleanings, p. 186
Throughout the ages, God has sent Divine Messengers known as Manifestations of God—among them Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and, in more recent times, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh—to cultivate humanity’s spiritual, intellectual and moral capacities. Following the coming of a Manifestation of God extraordinary progress occurs in the world. Reaching to the roots of human motivation, His teachings awaken in whole populations capacities to contribute to the advancement of civilization to an extent never before possible. --Bahai.org: "What Bahá’í's Believe."
Unity of Religion
"Consider to what extent the love of God makes itself manifest. Among the signs of His love which appear in the world are the dawning-point of His Manifestations. What an infinite degree of love is reflected by the divine Manifestations toward mankind! For the sake of guiding the people they have willingly forfeitedtheir lives to resuscitate human hearts."
"Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings…now present us with the highest and purest form of religious teaching..." — Leo Tolstoy
Unity in Human Diversity
"Consider the flowers of a garden. Though differing in kind, color, form and shape, yet, inasmuch as they are refreshed by the waters of one spring, revived by the breath of one wind,
Unity of Humanity
"O contending peoples and kindreds of the earth!
Set your faces towards unity, and let the radiance of its light shine upon you. Gather ye together, and for the sake of God resolve to root out whatever is the source of contention amongst you. Then will the effulgence of the world’s great Luminary envelop the whole earth, and its inhabitants become the citizens of one city, and the occupants of one and the same throne."
“I believe all religions pursue the same goals, that of cultivating human goodness and bringing happiness to all human beings. Though the means may appear different, the ends are the same.”
– Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama
invigorated by the rays of one sun, this diversity increaseth their charm and addeth unto their beauty. How unpleasing to the eye if all the flowers and plants, the leaves and blossoms, the fruit, the branches and the trees of that garden were all of the same shape and color! Diversity of hues, form and shape enricheth and adorneth the garden, and heighteneth the effect thereof." – ‘Abdu’l-Bahá quoted by Shoghi Effendi in The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 42
Equality of Women and Men
"The world of humanity has two wings – one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be."
"Women have equal rights with men upon earth; in religion and society they are a very important element. As long as women are prevented from attaining their highest possibilities, so long will men be unable to achieve the greatness which might be theirs." – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 40
The Elimination of All Forms of Prejudice
"Prejudices of religion, race or sect destroy the foundation of humanity. All the divisions in the world, hatred, war and bloodshed, are caused by one or other of these prejudices.
"The whole world must be looked upon as one single country, all the nations as one nation, all men as belonging to one race. Religions, races, and nations are all divisions of man’s making only, and are necessary only in his thought; before God there are neither Persians, Arabs, French nor English; God is God for all, and to Him all creation is one. We must obey God, and strive to follow Him by leaving all our prejudices and bringing about peace on earth."
"Ye observe how the world is divided against itself, how many a land is red with blood and
its very dust is caked with human gore.
The fires of conflict have blazed so high that never in early times, not in the Middle Ages,
not in recent centuries hath there ever been such a hideous war, a war that is even as millstones, taking for grain the skulls of men. Nay, even worse, for flourishing countries have been reduced to rubble, cities have been leveled with the ground, and many a once prosperous village hath been turned into ruin ...
"And the breeding-ground of all these tragedies is prejudice: prejudice of race and nation, of religion, of political opinion; and the root cause of prejudice is blind imitation of the past — imitation in religion, in racial attitudes, in national bias, in politics. So long as this aping of the past persisteth, just so long will the foundations of the social order be blown to the four winds, just so long will humanity be continually exposed to direst peril."
– Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 246
Harmony of Religion and Science
"Religion and Science are intertwined with each other and cannot be separated. These are the two wings with which humanity must fly. One wing is not enough. Every religion which does not concern itself with science is mere tradition…. Therefore science, education and civilization are most important necessities for the full religious life". – ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 28-29
"God has endowed man with intelligence and reason whereby he is required to determine the verity of questions and propositions. If religious beliefs and opinions are found contrary to the standards of science they are mere superstitions and imaginations; for the antithesis of knowledge is ignorance, and the child of ignorance is superstition. Unquestionably there must be agreement between true religion and science. If a question be found contrary to reason, faith and belief in it are impossible..."
The founder and Divine Manifestation for the Bahá'í Faith, Bahá'u'lláh (“Bah-HAUoh-LÁH”), taught that there is One God who has sent a succession of Divine Messengers to the human race at various times throughout human history. Bahá’u’lláh asserted that all human beings are unified by one God and one religion –as revealed by each of God’s Divine Manifestations– which include Jesus, Krishna, Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, and Muhammad, all of whose religions, Bahá'ís believe, come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God. Since its inception in 1863 in Persia, the Baha’i Faith has since spread to every region, continent and nation, becoming the second most widespread religion in the world, with more than five million adherents.
"And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” – John 10:16