The Baha’i Faith was founded by two Divine Educators, the Bab and Baha’u’llah. Both lived during the 19th century in Persia, in a time of great turmoil.
The Bab, whose name means the Gate, urged all to seek truth with independent hearts. He encouraged people to let go of superstition, dogma and dependence on clergy, and to view their fellow human beings as beautiful creations of God, worthy of respect. As the Báb's teachings spread, which the Islamic clergy saw as a threat, his followers came under increased persecution and torture.The conflicts escalated in several places to military sieges by the Shah's army. The Báb himself was imprisoned and eventually executed in 1850.
Baha’u’llah, whose name means the Glory of God, envisioned a future where all of humanity operates as one family. He taught that every human being has a unique purpose to help bring about a unified world, that justice enables each of us to fulfill this potential, and that the inequalities between women and men, black and white, rich and poor, East and West must dissolve. He claimed that in 1853, while incarcerated in a dungeon in Tehran, he received the first intimations that he was the one anticipated by the Báb when he received a visit from the Maid of Heaven.
Beginning in 1866, he began declaring his mission as a Messenger of God in letters to the world's religious and secular rulers, including Pope Pius IX, Napoleon III, and Queen Victoria. He produced over 18,000 works in his lifetime, in both Arabic and Persian, of which only 8% have been translated into English. Towards the end of his life, the strict and harsh confinement was gradually relaxed, and he was allowed to live in a home near `Akká, while still officially a prisoner of that city. He died there in 1892.
Bahá'í teachings are in some ways similar to other monotheistic faiths: God is considered single and all-powerful. However, Bahá'u'lláh taught that religion is orderly and progressively revealed by one God through Manifestations of God who are the founders of major world religions throughout history; Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad being the most recent in the period before the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. Bahá'ís regard the major religions as fundamentally unified in purpose, though varied in social practices and interpretations. There is a similar emphasis on the unity of all people, openly rejecting notions of racism and nationalism. At the heart of Bahá'í teachings is the goal of a unified world order that ensures the prosperity of all nations, races, creeds, and classes.
The Baha'i Faith is the youngest of the world’s independent monotheistic religions. The worldwide Baha'i community come from nearly every national, ethnic and religious background, making the Baha'i Faith the second-most-widespread religion in the world. The majority of Baha'ís live in Asia, Africa and Latin America. According to some estimates, the largest Baha'i community in the world is in India.
Estimated Followers: 8 million
Of Global Population: 0.15%