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. On 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 other 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.
- They 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 have been:
- Jesus Christ
- The Bab
- 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.