Bahá’í teachings focus on unity – the oneness of God, the oneness of religion, and the oneness of the human race.
A central belief is progressive revelation – that God progressively reveals His teachings for humanity through a series of divine educators that become the founders of the world’s great religions. Among these religions are the Bahá’í Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism.
The founder of the Bahá’í Faith was Bahá’u’lláh, who wrote the equivalent of a hundred volumes and laid down principles for a new pattern of human society. Some of these principles are:
An integral part of the religion is its administration, which was laid down by Bahá’u’lláh and is based on elected bodies of nine individuals at the local, national, and international levels. The international governing body is the Universal House of Justice.
Elections are conducted according to specific guidelines that forbid nominations and campaigning, and instead require those casting ballots to vote, with a prayerful attitude, for individuals “of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience.”
The Bahá’í Faith has no clergy.
On an individual level, Bahá’ís strive to uphold the highest moral standards. Among the writings of Bahá’u’lláh are teachings that emphasize service to others, purity of motive, and work as a form of worship, and forbid drinking alcohol, gambling, abusing drugs, gossip and backbiting, and participation in partisan politics.
Bahá’ís believe that each person has a soul that survives throughout eternity, independent of the earthly body. Daily prayer and, once a year, fasting for 19 days from sunup to sundown are part of the spiritual life of each Bahá’í.
At the local level, Bahá’ís meet regularly at the Nineteen Day Feast (the term refers to a spiritual “feast” of prayers, consultation and fellowship). Some localities have a Bahá’í meeting center, but in many towns, Bahá’ís gather in members’ homes. Bahá’ís observe nine holy days on which work should be suspended. These include anniversaries of the births and deaths of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb, anniversaries of the declaration of their missions, and commemoration of the new year on 21 March. (For the calendar of Bahá'í holy days, see the Style Guide and Glossary.)
In their communities, Bahá’ís are currently engaged in four core activities – devotional gatherings, children’s classes, empowerment programs for pre-teens, and study circles.
All Bahá’í activities and properties are supported by the voluntary contributions of registered Bahá’ís. No outside funds are ever solicited.