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Bahá'í Community

Devotional GatheringDevotional GatheringThe life of a Bahá'í is dedicated to personal and social transformation. Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, explained that transformation is the true purpose of religion. He described the personal and social processes as essentially interactive and complementary. Consequently, Bahá'ís are committed to building the capacity of individuals and to learning, through community-based efforts, how better to effect change and improve society.

"To be a Bahá'í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood." ~ Bahá'í Writings.

Their faith is fixed upon the unification of mankind, and their highest purpose is the oneness of religious belief. They proclaim to all humanity the sheltering mercy and infinite grace of God. They teach the reconciliation of religion with science and reason. They show forth in words and deeds the reality of love for all mankind as the servants of one God and the recipients of His universal bounty. These are their thoughts, their beliefs, their guiding principles, their religion." ~ Bahá'í Writings

What is the Bahá'í Faith?

The Shrine of the Bab on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel. Photo credits: Baha’i International CommunityThe Shrine of the Bab on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel. Photo credits: Baha’i International Community

The Bahá'í Faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. Its founder, Baha’u’llah (1817-1892), is regarded by Bahá'ís as the most recent in a never ending line of Messengers of God. This line stretches back beyond recorded time, and includes Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Krishna, Christ and Muhammad and the Bab. The central theme of Bahá'u'lláh's message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. God, Bahá'u'lláh said, has set in motion historical forces that are breaking down traditional barriers of race, class, creed, and nation, that will, in time, give birth to a universal civilization. The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and to assist the processes of unification.

One of the purposes of the Bahá'í Faith is to help make this possible. A worldwide community of over five million Bahá'ís, representative of most of the nations, races and cultures on earth, is working to give Bahá'u'lláh's teachings practical effect. Their experience will be a source of encouragement to all who share their vision of humanity as one global family and the earth as one homeland.

The Bahá'í World Community

View from above the Baha’i shrine on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, toward Haifa Bay and the Mediterranean Sea.Photo credits: Baha’i International Community  View from above the Baha’i shrine on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, toward Haifa Bay and the Mediterranean Sea.Photo credits: Baha’i International CommunityThe Bahá'í community today numbers over five million members resident in 189 independent countries and 46 territories. Its rich diversity embraces people from most of the planet's races, creeds and cultures, including over 2,100 different ethnic groupings.

There is no clergy in the Bahá'í Faith. Because the human race has entered the age of its maturity, each individual is able to explore the revelation of God for themselves. Individuals decide on the issues of life through prayer, reflection, research and consultation with others. To make this possible, the voluminous Bahá'í scriptures have so far been translated into over 800 different languages. The same principle applies to the community's collective life. Elected councils, designated as Spiritual Assemblies, administer the affairs of the Faith at both local and national levels. All adult believers are equally eligible and election is by secret ballot and plurality vote.

The work of the Faith is entirely supported by voluntary contributions from its members. Giving to the Bahá'í Funds is regarded as one of the privileges of membership; other contributions can be accepted, but are generally donated to charity.

Bahá'ís and Other Religions

Bahá'u'lláh called upon the Bahá'ís to associate with the followers of all religions in a spirit of love and fellowship. Bahá'ís see no intrinsic conflict with other religious communities, as they believe all the revealed Faiths originate from the same Source, God, and are essentially one.

Women

Programs of the Barli Development Institute have the ultimate goal of assisting women to be equal partners in the development of their communities. Activities in a wide variety of areas, including literacy, environmental preservation, health, and nutrition, all serve to further this end. Photo credits: Baha’i International CommunityPrograms of the Barli Development Institute have the ultimate goal of assisting women to be equal partners in the development of their communities. Activities in a wide variety of areas, including literacy, environmental preservation, health, and nutrition, all serve to further this end. Photo credits: Baha’i International CommunityThe emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is essential to human progress and the transformation of society. Inequality retards not only the advancement of women but the progress of civilization itself. The persistent denial of equality to one-half of the world's population is an affront to human dignity. It promotes destructive attitudes and habits in men and women that pass from the family to the work place, to political life, and, ultimately, to international relations. On no grounds, moral, biological, or traditional, can inequality be justified.

The moral and psychological climate necessary to enable our nation to establish social justice and to contribute to global peace will be created only when women attain full partnership with men in all fields of endeavor.

Environmental Challenges

Bahá'ís see the environmental crisis as one of many issues requiring a profound change in human behavior. They believe that humanity is in a turbulent period of transition towards a unified global society. Humanity will be able to live in harmony with the natural environment when its spiritual and material potentials are given balanced attention.