Key terms and facts
Name of the religion and of the organization – the Bahá’í Faith
The Bahá’í Faith is an independent world religion.
A member is called a Bahá’í (plural: Bahá’ís). It is also correct to say that someone is a “member of the Bahá’í Faith,” a “follower of the Bahá’í Faith,” a “follower of Bahá’u’lláh,” or a member of the Bahá’í community of a given locality.
The term “Bahá’í International Community” refers to the non-governmental organization that represents the worldwide Bahá’í 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.
Founder of the Bahá’í Faith – Bahá’u’lláh
Bahá’ís consider Bahá’u’lláh to be the most recent in a line of great religious teachers, or Messengers of God, that includes Abraham, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Krishna, Muhammad, Moses, Zoroaster, and others. Bahá’u’lláh – the name is Arabic for “Glory of God” – was born in 1817 in Tehran, Iran, and passed away in 1892 in Acre, Israel. The coming of Bahá’u’lláh was announced by the Báb (Arabic for “Gate”), also considered by Bahá’ís to be a divine Messenger.
Year of founding – 1844
There are a number of important dates in the establishment of the Bahá’í Faith, but the first announcement by the Báb of the new religion came in 1844.
Head of the religion – the Universal House of Justice
The Universal House of Justice is the international governing council of the Bahá’í community, an elected body of nine men. Its seat is at the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa, Israel. Around the world, in almost all countries, a National Spiritual Assembly oversees the affairs of the Bahá’í Faith in that country, and Local Spiritual Assemblies oversee local affairs.
Number of Bahá’ís – more than 5 million
Description of the religion and key beliefs
The Bahá’í Faith is an independent, monotheistic religion established in virtually every country of the world. Bahá’ís believe that the world’s major religions represent unfolding chapters in God’s teachings for humankind, and that the writings of Bahá’u’lláh represent God’s guidance for this age.
Bahá’u’lláh’s central teaching is the unity of humanity under one God.
Among the many Bahá’í principles are the following:
- the unity of the races and elimination of prejudice,
- the equality of women and men,
- universal education,
- the elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty,
- a spiritual solution to economic problems,
- establishment of a universal auxiliary language,
- the harmony of science and religion,
- the independent investigation of truth,
- the creation of a world commonwealth of nations that will keep the peace through collective security.
For more information, see Bahai.org.