The Bahá'í Faith

The World Religion

A summary of Its Aims, Teachings, and History

by

Shoghi Effendi

Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith

   THE REVELATION PROCLAIMED by Baha'u'llah, His followers believe, is divine in origin, all-embracing in scope, broad in its outlook, scientific in its method, humanitarian in its principles and dynamic in the influence it exerts on the hearts and minds of men.  The mission of the Founder of their Faith, they conceive it to be to proclaim that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is continuous and progressive, that the Founders of all past religions, though different in the non-essential aspects of their teachings, "abide in teh same Tabernacle, soar in the same heaven, are seated upon the same throne, utter the same speech and proclaim the same Faith."  His Cause, they have already demonstrated, stands identified with, and revolves around, the principle of the organic unity of mankind as representing the consummation of the whole process of human evolution.  This final stage in this stupendous evolution, they assert, is not only necessary but inevitable, that it is gradually approaching, and that nothing short of the celestial potency with which a divinely ordained Message can claim to be endowed can succeed in establishing it.

  THE BAHA'I FAITH recognizes the unity of God and of His Prophets, upholds the principle of an unfettered search after truth, condemns all forms of superstition and prejudice, teaches that the fundamental purpose of religion is to promote concord and harmony, that it must go hand-in-hand with science, and that it constitutes the sole and ultimate basis of a peaceful, an ordered and progressive society.  It inculcates the principle of equal opportunity, rights and privileges for both sexes, advocates compulsory education, abolishes extremes of poverty and wealth, exalts work performed in the spirit of service to the rank of worship, recommends the adoption of an auxiliary international language, and provides the necessary agencies for the establishment of safeguarding of a permanent and universal peace.

BORN ABOUT THE MIDDLE of the nineteenth century in darkest Persia, assailed from its infancy by the forces of religious fanaticism, the Faith has, notwithstanding the martyrdom of its Forerunner, the repeated banishment of its Founder, the almost life-long imprisonment of its chief Promoter and the cruel death of no less than twenty thousand of its devoted followers, succeeded in diffusing quietly and steadily its spirit throughout both the East and West, . . . obtained from the ecclesiastical and civil authorities in various lands written affirmations that recognize its independent religious status.

   THE FORERUNNER OF the Faith was Mirza 'Alí-Muhammad of Shíráz, known as The Báb (The Gate) Who proclaimed on May 23, 1844, His twofold mission as an independent Manifestation of God and Herald of One greater than Himself, Who would inaugurate a new and unprecedented era in the religious history of mankind.  On His early life, His sufferings, the heroism of His disciples, and the circumstances of His tragic martyrdom I need not dwell, as the record of His saintly life is minutely set forth in The Dawn-Breakers: Nabíl's Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahá'í Faith.  Suffice it to say that at the early age of thirty-one the Báb was publicly martyred by a military firing squad at Tabríz, Persia, on July 9, 1850.  One the evening of that same day His mangled body was removed from the courtyard of the barracks to the edge of the moat outside the gate of the city whence it was carried by His fervent disciples to Tihrán.  There it remained concealed until such time as its transfer to the Holy Land was made possible.  Faced by almost insuperable difficulties and facing the gravest dangers a band of His disciples, acting under the instructions of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, succeeded in transporting overland the casket containing His remains to Haifa.  In 1909, 'Abdu'l-Bahá with his own hands and in the presence of the assembled representatives of various Bahá'í communities deposited those remains within the vault of the Mausoleum he himself had erected for the Báb.  Ever since that time countless followers of the Bahá'í Faith have made the pilgrimage to this sacred spot, a spot which ever since 1921 has been further sanctified by the burial of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in an adjoining vault.

   THE FOUNDER OF the Faith was Bahá'u'lláh (Glory of God), Whose advent the Báb had foretold.  He declared His mission in 1863 while an exile in Baghdád.  He subsequently formulated the principles of that new and divine civilization which by His advent He claimed to have inaugurated.  he too was bitterly opposed, was stripped of His property and rights, was exiled to 'Iráq, to Constantinople and Adrianople, and was eventually incarcerated in the penal colony of 'Akká where He passed away in 1892 in His seventy-fifth year.  His remains are laid to rest in the Shrine of Bahjí, north of 'Akká.

   THE AUTHORIZED INTERPRETER and Exemplar of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings was His eldest son 'Abdu'l-Bahá (Servant of Baha) who was appointed by his Father as the Center of whom all Bahá'ís should turn for instruction and guidance.  'Abdu'l-Bahá ever since his childhood was the closest companion of his Father, and shared all His sorrows and sufferings.  He remained a prisoner until 1908, when the old regime in Turkey was overthrown and all religious and political prisoners throughout the empire were liberated.  After that he continued to make his home in Palestine but undertook extensive teaching tours in Egypt, Europe, and America, being ceaselessly engaged in explaining and exemplifying the principles of his Father's Faith and in inspiring and directing the activities of his friends and followers throughout the world.  He passed away in 1921 in Haifa, Palestine [Israel], and, as already stated, was buried in a vault contiguous to that of the Báb on Mount Carmel.

   . . .  ORGANIZED BAHA'I COMMUNITIES are to be found in every continent of the globe. . . .  Christians of various denominations, Muslims of both the Súnní and Shí'ah sects of Islám, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians and Buddhists, have eagerly embraced its truth, have recognized the divine origin and fundamental unity underlying the teachings of all the Founders of past religions, and have unreservedly identified themselves with both the spirit and form of its evolving institutions.  All these center function as the component parts of a single organism, of an entity the spiritual and administrative center of which lies enshrined in the twin cities of 'Akká and Haifa.

The Baha'i Youth Workshop