Bahá’í Faith : Other facts
Bahá’ís believe that God is transcendent and unknowable. However, He has sent, and will continue to send, great prophets to mankind, through which the Holy Spirit has revealed the "Word of God." The Great Manifestations of God up to this time have been:
Abraham (? BCE)
Moses (1456 BCE)
Krishna (1249 BCE)
Zoroaster (1000 BCE)
Buddha (757 BCE)
Jesus Christ (34 CE)
Mohammed (613 CE)
The Bab (1844 CE)
Baha’u’llah (1863 CE)
(Dates shown are common estimates from historical and Christian sources; BCE dates are very approximate) A new prophet is not expected for many centuries.
The Bahá’í belief in an essential unity of various great world religions does not mean they believe the various religious creeds and doctrines are the same. Rather, they believe there is in essence only one religion and the great messengers of the past have progressively and more fully revealed its nature. Those differences in doctrine and belief which can be attributed to their founders and are not later accretions, can be attributed to the circumstances and needs of the time and place in which each religion started.
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."
Some of Baha’u’llah’s most famous sayings are: "The best beloved of all things in my sight is justice,"
"The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens"
"The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established."
Unlike most religions which attempt to preserve the past, Bahá’í beliefs promoted major social changes when originated in the 19th century: they supported gender and race equality, world government, freedom of expression and assembly, world peace. Also, unlike many other religions, Bahá’ís embrace the findings of science. They were in many ways at least a century ahead of many other faiths. Followers are heavily involved in promoting these concepts today.
They believe that there will eventually be a single world government, to be led by Bahá’ís, and based on the Faith’s administrative framework.
The Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel, is the global governing body; its functions were set out by Baha’u’llah.
National Spiritual Assemblies (NSA) supervise affairs in each country. The American NSA is located in Wilmette IL at the site of a Bahá’í House of Worship, one of 7 worldwide.
In each locality where there are more than nine adult believers, affairs are administered by local spiritual assemblies. Each of these institutions has nine members and is elected, not appointed. Their functions have been defined by Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha in Bahá’í scripture.
Bahá’ís have no clergy, sacraments or rituals.
Members: pray each day
observe the 9 holy days
fast 19 days a year
work to abolish prejudice
regard work as a form of worship
make at least one pilgrimage, if they are able, to the Shrine of the Bab and the houses in which Baha’u’llah lived, which are situated near the Bahá’í world headquarters.
Bahá’ís do not consume alcohol.
Bahá’í 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 others books of Bahá’í scripture.
The Bahá’ís have a new calendar. Its year begins on March 21, the spring equinox. Other seasonal days of celebration or commemoration are:
April 21, 29 & May 2: Baha’u’llah’s public declaration of his mission
May 23: Bab’s declaration of his mission
May 29: Passing of Baha’u’llah
July 9: Martyrdom of the Bab
October 20: Birth of Bab
November 12: Birth of Baha’u’llah