Updated: Oct 29
This article is part of a series on world religions. The Baháʼí Faith is a religion founded in the 19th century that teaches the essential worth of all religions and the unity of all people. It was established by Baháʼu'lláh and initially developed in Iran and parts of the Middle East. The religion is estimated to have five to eight million adherents, known as Baháʼís, spread throughout most of the world's countries and territories. According to the 2020 annual report from the National Spiritual Assembly of the 48 contiguous states, there were 177,647 registered Bahá’ís of all ages in the United States.
The Baháʼí Faith has three central figures:
The Báb (1819–1850), who taught that a prophet similar to Jesus and Muhammad would soon appear
Baháʼu'lláh (1817–1892), who claimed to be that prophet in 1863
His son, ʻAbdu'l-Bahá (1844–1921), who made teaching trips to Europe and the United States after his release from confinement in 1908.
After ʻAbdu'l-Bahá's death in 1921, the leadership of the religion fell to his grandson Shoghi Effendi (1897–1957). Baháʼís annually elect local, regional, and national Spiritual Assemblies that govern the religion's affairs, and every five years an election is held for the Universal House of Justice, the nine-member governing institution of the worldwide Baháʼí community that is located in Haifa, Israel.
According to Baháʼí teachings, religion is revealed in an orderly and progressive way by a single God through Manifestations of God, who are the founders of major world religions throughout human history; Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad are noted as the most recent of these before the Báb and Baháʼu'lláh¹. Baháʼís regard the world's major religions as fundamentally unified in purpose, but diverging in terms of social practices and interpretations.
The Baháʼí Faith has several core beliefs that are central to its teachings:
1. Oneness of God and Religion: Baháʼís believe in the oneness of God and that all major religions have the same spiritual source and come from the same God.
2. Oneness of Humanity: Baháʼís believe in the fundamental unity of all people, and they work towards a society that reflects this principle.
3. Freedom from Prejudice: Baháʼís strive for a world free from prejudice and advocate for the elimination of all forms of prejudice.
4. Equality of the Sexes: The Baháʼí Faith promotes gender equality and believes in the equal value and complementary roles of men and women.
5. Harmony between Religion and Science: Baháʼís believe that religion and science are complementary and that truth can be sought through both avenues.
6. Importance of Education: Baháʼís place a high value on education, particularly on the independent investigation of truth.
7. Centrality of Justice: Justice is seen as essential to all human endeavors.
8. Development of Spiritual Qualities: The Baháʼí teachings focus on the development of spiritual qualities and the integration of worship and service.
9. Progressive Revelation: Baháʼís accept the validity of each of the founders and prophets of the major world religions, viewing each great Faith as a link in a single spiritual system, progressively revealed by God to humanity.