Style guide, glossary and pronunciation guide

Pronunciation guide

Bahá’í:   Ba-HIGH
Bahá’u’lláh:   Ba-ha-ul-LAH
Báb:   Bahb (Bob)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá:   Abdul ba-HAH
Naw Ruz:   Naw Rooz
Ridvan:   REZ-vahn


Style guide and glossary

‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921) – The son of Bahá’u’lláh who was the head of the Bahá’í Faith from 1892 to 1921. Bahá’u’lláh in His will had designated ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as His successor. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá occupies a special station as the authoritative interpreter of the writings of Bahá’u’lláh and as the perfect example of how a Bahá’í should live. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá traveled widely through Europe and North America from 1911-1913, explaining his Father’s teachings in talks, interviews, and addresses at universities, churches, temples, synagogues, and missions for the poor. (Bahá’ís capitalize pronouns – for example, “He” – that refers to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá out of respect for his special station. Such pronouns are not capitalized in this guide in deference to international journalistic style and also to avoid confusion with Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb, who are considered to be divine Prophets.) For more information, see Bahai.org.

accent marks – Bahá’í, Bahá’u’lláh, and other names are written with accent marks, but many publications and Web sites do not have the facility for using such marks.

Acre – English rendering of the name of the city north of Haifa where Bahá’u’lláh was exiled in 1868. He lived in or near the city until His passing in 1892. Bahá’ís often use the Arabic name, ‘Akká, which was the name in general use during the time of Bahá’u’lláh. In Hebrew the name is Akko.

‘Akká, Akko – See entry above for “Acre.”

Arc – An area on Mount Carmel in Haifa, shaped like an arc, where the major international administrative buildings of the Bahá’í Faith, including the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, are situated.

Báb – The title, meaning “Gate,” assumed by Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad, the Founder of the Bábí Faith and the Forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh. Considered by Bahá’ís to be one of the twin Manifestations of God associated with the Bahá’í Faith. Born on 20 October 1819, the Báb proclaimed Himself to be the Promised One of Islam and said His mission was to announce the imminent coming of another Messenger even greater than Himself, namely Bahá’u’lláh. Because of these claims, the Báb was executed by firing squad in the public square in Tabriz on 9 July 1850. His remains were hidden in Iran for many years before being taken to Haifa/Acre in 1899 and buried on Mount Carmel in 1909. For more information, see Bahai.org.

Bábí Faith – The religion founded by the Báb. After 1863 and the announcement by Bahá’u’lláh that He was the Messenger whose coming had been foretold by the Báb, the Bahá’í Faith gradually became established and most followers of the Báb began to call themselves Bahá’ís.

Badí‘ calendar – The Bahá’í calendar, consisting of 19 months of 19 days each, with four intercalary days (five in leap year). The first day of the year corresponds to the spring equinox. The Bahá’í era (B.E.) begins with 1844, the year of the Báb’s declaration.

Bahá’í – (1) A noun referring to a member of the Bahá’í Faith. The plural is Bahá’ís. (2) An adjective describing a person, place, or thing related to the Bahá’í Faith. Examples: a Bahá’í book, the Bahá’í community, a Bahá’í holy day, a Bahá’í holy place.

Bahá’í Faith – The correct term for the religion is the Bahá’í Faith. It is an independent, monotheistic religion established in virtually every country of the world. It is not a sect of another religion. In a list of major religions, it would look like this: Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the Bahá’í Faith.

Bahá’í International Community – The Bahá’í International Community is a non-governmental organization that represents the worldwide Baha'i community. It has been registered with the United Nations as a nongovernmental organization since 1948. It currently has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social council (ECOSOC) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as well as accreditation with the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI). The Baha’i International Community collaborates with the UN and its specialized agencies, as well as member states, inter- and non-governmental organizations, academia, and practitioners. It has Representative Offices in Addis Ababa, Brussels, Geneva, Jakarta, and New York.

Bahá’í World Centre – The spiritual and administrative center of the Bahá’í Faith, comprising the holy places in the Haifa-Acre area in northern Israel and the Arc of administrative buildings on Mount Carmel in Haifa. The Bahá’í World Centre itself uses the spelling “Centre”; elsewhere both “Centre” and “Center” are used, depending on the custom of the country.

Bahá'u'lláh – The founder of the Bahá’í Faith, who lived from 1817 to 1892, considered by Bahá’ís to be the most recent divine Messenger, or Manifestation of God, in a line of great religious figures that includes Abraham, Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Moses, Muhammad, Zoroaster, the Báb, and others. Bahá’u’lláh was born in Tehran in present-day Iran, and passed away near Acre, in what is now Israel. “Bahá’u’lláh” is a title that means the “Glory of God” in Arabic; His name was Mírzá Husayn-‘Alí. His writings, which would equal about a hundred volumes, form the basis of the Bahá’í teachings. For more information, see Bahai.org.

Bahjí – The place near Acre where the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh (His burial place) is located, as well as the mansion that was His last residence and surrounding gardens. It is a place of pilgrimage for Bahá’ís. The word “Bahjí” is Arabic for “delight.”

children’s classes – Classes in moral education that are provided for children, operated at the community level by the Bahá’í training institute. Open to all, they are considered a core activity. (See core activities.)

Convention – See International Bahá’í Convention and National Bahá’í Convention.

core activities – Bahá’ís currently use the term “core activities” to refer to devotional meetings, children’s classes, classes for young adolescents (termed “junior youth”), and study circles that use a specific curriculum.

counsellor – An adviser appointed by the Universal House of Justice who serves in a particular geographic area or at the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa. At present, there are 81 counsellors assigned to specific countries or regions, and nine counsellors who form the membership of the International Teaching Centre at the Baha’i World Centre. Appointments are for five years.

devotional meetings – Gatherings, often in people’s homes, for prayers and to read the sacred writings of the Bahá’í Faith and other religions. Usually undertaken as an individual initiative. Considered a core activity. (See core activities.)

fast, the – A period during which Bahá’ís abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sundown during the Bahá’í month of ‘Alá’, from 2 March to 20 March. Bahá’u’lláh enjoined His followers to pray and fast during this period. The sick, the traveler, and pregnant women, among others, are exempt.

feast – See Nineteen Day Feast.

Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith – See Shoghi Effendi.

Haifa – The city in northern Israel that along with nearby Acre is the location of the Bahá’í World Centre. The international administrative buildings of the Bahá’í Faith (including the Seat of the Universal House of Justice), the Shrine of the Báb, and surrounding terraces and gardens are all located on Mount Carmel in the heart of Haifa.

Holy days – Eleven days that commemorate significant Bahá’í anniversaries. The nine holy days on which work is suspended are the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the Birth of the Báb, Declaration of the Báb, Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, Martyrdom of the Báb, Naw Ruz, Ridván (a 12-day festival, of which the first, ninth and 12th days are holy days). The other two holy days are the Day of the Covenant and the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. See names of individual holy days.

Holy Land – The area associated with present-day Israel, which is holy to a number of religions, including to Baha’is. The resting places of Bahá’u’lláh near Acre and of the Bab in Haifa are, to Bahá’ís, the holiest spots on earth.

International Archives Building – One of the buildings at the Bahá’í World Centre on Mount Carmel in Haifa. The repository of many sacred relics of the Bahá’í Faith, it is visited by thousands of Bahá’í pilgrims each year.

International Bahá’í Convention – A gathering every five years of delegates from around the world to consult on the affairs of the Bahá’í Faith and elect the members of the Universal House of Justice. Members of the National Spiritual Assemblies serve as delegates.

International Teaching Centre – One of the institutions at the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa. The International Teaching Centre has nine members, all counsellors appointed by the Universal House of Justice. Appointments are for five years.

Local Spiritual Assembly – At the local level, the affairs of the Bahá’í community are administered by the Local Spiritual Assembly. Each Local Assembly consists of nine members who are chosen in annual elections. As with all other elected Bahá’í institutions, the Assembly functions as a body and makes decisions through consultation. The responsibilities of the Local Spiritual Assembly include promoting the spiritual education of children and young people, strengthening the spiritual and social fabric of Bahá’í community life, assessing and utilizing the community’s resources, and ensuring that the energies and talents of community members contribute towards progress.

Mount Carmel – In Haifa, Israel, site of the Bahá’í World Centre, including several Bahá’í holy places, the most important of which is the Shrine of the Báb, and the buildings housing the offices of the Bahá’í World Centre administrative offices.

National Bahá’í Convention – In each country, the annual gathering of elected delegates to discuss the affairs of the Bahá’í Faith in their jurisdiction and to elect the members of the National Spiritual Assembly.

National Spiritual Assembly – At the national level, the affairs of the Bahá’í community are administered by the National Spiritual Assembly, a nine-member elected council responsible for guiding, co-ordinating, and stimulating the activities of Local Spiritual Assemblies and individual members of the Bahá’í community within a given country. The responsibilities of a National Spiritual Assembly include channelling the community’s financial resources, fostering the growth and vibrancy of the national Bahá’í community, supervising the affairs of the community including its social and economic development activities and its properties, overseeing relations with government, resolving questions from individuals and Local Spiritual Assemblies, and strengthening the participation of the Bahá’í community in the life of society at the national level.

Nineteen Day Feast – An administrative gathering at the local level. The term refers to a spiritual “feast” of prayers, consultation and fellowship. It is held every 19 days, on the first day of each Bahá’í month.

pilgrimage – Each year thousands of Bahá’ís undertake pilgrimage, during which they forge a profound and lasting connection with the spiritual and administrative centre of their Faith, located in the Haifa-‘Akká area of what is now northern Israel. Bahá’í pilgrims pray and meditate at the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh and the Shrine of the Báb, as well as in the beautiful gardens that surround them. They also draw inspiration from the time spent at various historical sites associated with the lives of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi, as well as from visits to the edifices dedicated to the worldwide administration of the Bahá’í Faith.

progressive revelation – The central belief that Manifestations of God have successively provided the guidance necessary for humanity’s social and spiritual evolution.

Regional Bahá’í Council – In some countries, the National Spiritual Assembly assigns certain of its functions to Regional Bahá’í Councils, which serve a designated geographical area within the land in question. The responsibilities of a Regional Council may include carrying out policies of the National Spiritual Assembly, supervising progress of particular plans and projects, and taking steps to stimulate and coordinate the growth of the Bahá’í community within the region.

Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957) – The head of the Bahá’í Faith from 1921 to 1957. His title is Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith. He is the grandson of ‘Abdul-Bahá and the great-grandson of Bahá’u’lláh. For more information, see Bahai.org.

Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh – The resting place of the mortal remains of Bahá’u’lláh, located near the city of Acre in what is now Israel. The shrine is the holiest spot on earth to Bahá’ís and a place of pilgrimage.

Shrine of the Báb – The resting place of the mortal remains of the Bab, located on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel. It is a sacred site to Bahá’ís and a place of pilgrimage.

study circles – A study circle is one of the principal elements of the process of distance education offered by the Bahá’í training institute. It is a small group that meets regularly to study the institute course materials.

Universal House of Justice – The international governing council of the Bahá’í Faith. It is the supreme administrative body ordained by Bahá’u’lláh in His book of laws. The Universal House of Justice is elected every five years at the International Bahá’í Convention, where members of the National Spiritual Assemblies around the world serve as delegates. The Universal House of Justice was first elected in 1963. Its permanent seat is on Mount Carmel in Haifa.

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