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, 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 refer 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.)

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.

Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – Bahá’í holy day on 28 November. Commemorates the anniversary of the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on 28 November 1921 in Haifa.

Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh – Bahá’í holy day on 29 May. Commemorates the anniversary of the passing of Bahá’u’lláh on 29 May 1892 near Acre.

Ayyám-i-Há – Also known as Intercalary Days. Four or five days added to the Bahá’í calendar to complete the solar year of 365 days (366 in leap year). The Intercalary Days correspond to 26 February to 1 March. They are devoted to spiritual preparation for the fast, hospitality, charity, and gift-giving. Bahá’í children often have parties and other special activities. Ayyám-i-Há means “Days of Há” (“Há” is a letter).

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.

Bábí – (1) A follower of the Báb. Plural: Bábís. (2) of or pertaining to the Báb.

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 – See calendar, Bahá’í.

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. (3) In certain instances, informally used as a noun referring to the Bahá’í Faith itself, or generally to all things Bahá’í. A Bahá’í might say something like this, for example: “Bahá’í is a major part of my life.”

Bahá’í calendar – See calendar, Bahá’í.

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 – (1) The term used in conjunction with specific offices operating under the Universal House of Justice that deal with external entities, including the news media, the United Nations and other international organizations, and governments. At present, these offices include a Secretariat in Israel, U.N. offices in New York and Geneva, and an Office of Public Information in Israel. (2) The official name for the nongovernmental organization of the Bahá’í Faith that is registered at the United Nations. (3) A term for designating the entire international Bahá’í organization and/or administration. (4) A general term referring to the more than 5 million Bahá’ís of the world. BIC is an acceptable abbreviation.

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.

(Baha’ism) – This term is not used by Bahá’ís.

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.

Bahjí – The place near Acre comprising the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh (His burial place), 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.”

Birth of the Báb – Bahá’í holy day on 20 October. It is the anniversary of the birth of the Báb in Shiraz, Iran, on 20 October 1819.

Birth of Bahá’u’lláh – Bahá’í holy day on 12 November. It is the anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh in Tehran, Iran, on 12 November 1817.

calendar, Bahá’í – A solar 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 March 21 on the Gregorian calendar. The Bahá’í era (B.E.) begins with 1844, the year of the Báb’s declaration. The Bahá’í calendar is also known as the Badí’ calendar. See also: Holy days, fast, Ayyam-i-Ha.

children’s classes – Classes in moral education and religious history that are provided for children, operated at the community level. 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.

counselor – 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 counselors assigned to specific countries or regions, and nine counselors who form the membership of the International Teaching Centre at the Baha’i World Centre. Appointments are for five years.

covenant – An agreement between God and humanity. Bahá’ís believe in two covenants: The Greater Covenant is the belief that God will continue to send divine Messengers to humanity. The Lesser Covenant is specific to the Bahá’í Faith and involves Bahá’ulláh’s assurance that the unity of his followers will be maintained; this unity is the result of clear guidance about the head of the Bahá’í Faith, which has been, successively, Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and now the Universal House of Justice.

Day of the Covenant – Bahá’í holy day on 26 November. Commemoration of Bahá’u’lláh’s appointment of His son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, as His successor and the Center of His Covenant.

Declaration of the Báb – Bahá’í holy day on 23 May. Commemoration of the day in 1844 when the Báb announced in Shiraz, Iran, that He was the herald of the universal Messenger of God for this day.

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.)

diacriticals – 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.

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.

Intercalary Days – See Ayyám-i-Há.

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 a 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 counselors appointed by the Universal House of Justice. Appointments are for five years.

local Spiritual Assembly – Elected body of nine individuals that administers the affairs of the Bahá’í community at the local level.

Martyrdom of the Báb – Bahá’í holy day on 9 July. Anniversary of the execution of the Báb by firing squad in the public square of Tabriz, Iran, on 9 July 1850.

Mount Carmel – In Haifa, Israel, site of the Bahá’í World Centre, including several Bahá’i holy places, the most important of which is the Shrine of the Báb, and the 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 – The national administrative body in the Bahá’í Faith, comprised of nine individuals, with authority over all Bahá’í activities and affairs throughout its area. In a few cases, a National Spiritual Assembly exists in a territory or overseas department of a country.

Naw Rúz – Bahá’í holy day on 21 March. The Bahá’í new year. The term means “new day” in the Persian language.

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 – In the Bahá’í Faith, the term refers to a special visit to specific Bahá’í shrines or holy places. It usually means a planned, nine-day visit to Acre and Haifa, the principal purpose of which is to pray at the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh and the Shrine of the Báb; thousands of Bahá’ís from all over the world participate each year in this program.

progressive revelation – Bahá’ís use the term to describe God’s progressive revealing of His teachings for humanity through a series of divine Educators that become the founders of the world’s great religions. These religions include the Bahá’í Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and others. A belief in progressive revelation is central to the Bahá’í Faith. 

Regional Council – In some countries, an elected or appointed council of nine individuals that assists a National Spiritual Assembly in a given region.

Ridván, Festival of – A 12-day festival, April 21 through May 2, of which the first, ninth, and 12th days are holy days on which work should be suspended. The period commemorates the 12 days in 1863 that Bahá’u’lláh spent in the Ridván (Arabic for “paradise”) Garden in Baghdad, during which time He announced His mission as God’s messenger for this age.

Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957) – The head of the Bahá’í Faith from 1921 to 1957. His title is Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith. Bahá’ís always refer to him as “the Guardian” or as  “Shoghi Effendi” (no shortened form of his name on any reference). “Effendi” is a term of respect; it is not in itself a name. Shoghi Effendi’s surname was Rabbani, so “Shoghi Effendi Rabbani” would also be a correct reference, but again, it would never be shortened other than to say “Shoghi Effendi.” He is the grandson of ‘Abdul-Bahá and the great-grandson of Bahá’u’lláh.

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.

Spiritual Assembly – An elected, nine-member council that oversees Bahá’í activities and affairs in a given locality or country. See entries for local Spiritual Assembly and National Spiritual Assembly.

study circles – As used by Bahá’ís, the term refers to small groups of people who meet with a trained tutor or facilitator in a given locality to study materials developed by the Ruhi Institute and participate in a learning process that usually involves reading, activities related to the arts, service projects, and sometimes social functions.

Universal House of Justice – The head of the Bahá’í Faith. An elected institution of nine men, 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.

Return to top
 
The Bahá’í Faith - www.bahai.org
© 2016 Bahá’í International Community