Fast Facts on the Bahá'í Faith

An Overview of the Bahá'í Faith

bahai symbol

The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh ("buh-howluh") in 1860s Persia. Today, there are about five million Bahá'ís worldwide, most of whom live in non-Muslim Third World countries.

Like Jews, Christians and Muslims, Bahá'ís believe in only one God, who sends prophets as his messengers. But Bahá'ís regard God as completely transcendent and ultimately unknowable, so Bahá'í doctrine focuses primarily on "Manifestations of God" who progressively reveal God to humanity. These include Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, the Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, the Bab, and Bahá'u'lláh.

Bahá'í religious practice include private devotions such as daily prayer and an annual fast, along with a communal feast held at the beginning of each month in the Bahá'í calendar. The main Bahá'í holidays are the Bahá'í New Year (spring equinox, about Mar. 21) and the Ridvan festival (Apr. 21 - May 2), which marks Bahá'u'lláh's declaration of his mission in 1863. The Bahá'í Faith has no priesthood. Spiritual authority rest with locally and nationally elected councils known as "Spiritual Assemblies," with the ultimate authority residing with the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel.

Facts and Stats on the Bahá'í Faith

date founded
1863 CE
place founded
Tehran, Iran (see Bahai history)
Mirza Hoseyn 'Ali Nuri, known as Bahá'u'lláh (see Bahá'u'lláh)
5-7 million
main location
India (1.7 million), USA (750,000), Iran (463,000), Vietnam (356,000) (see religion in India)
Haifa, Israel
major sects and denominations
none (the Orthodox Bahá'í Faith is a small minority)
sacred texts
Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and other Bahá'í leaders (see Bahai text)
original language
clergy/religious professionals
house of worship
Bahá'í House of Worship
type of theism
strict monotheism (see Bahai beliefs)
ultimate reality
one creator God, who is described in different ways by various religions and revealed by the Messengers
human nature
eternal soul that is essentially good
purpose of life
to develop spiritually and draw closer to God
how to live
pray daily, avoid intoxicants, read the scriptures, work hard as a form of worship, promote education, strive for social justice and equality
soul separates from the body and begins a journey towards or away from God; heaven and hell not literal places but states of being
nine-pointed star (see Bahai symbols)

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