Portal:Bahá'í Faith

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Bahá'í Faith Portal

The Shrine of the Báb at the Bahá'í World Centre, in Haifa, Israel

The Bahá'í Faith (/bəˈhɑː, -ˈh/; Persian: بهائیBahā'i) is a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people. Established by Bahá'u'lláh in 1863, it initially grew in Iran and parts of the Middle East, where it has faced ongoing persecution since its inception. Currently it has between 5 and 7 million adherents, known as Bahá'ís, spread out into most of the world's countries and territories. It grew from the mid-19th-century Bábí religion, whose founder taught that God would soon send a prophet in the manner of Jesus or Muhammad. In 1863, after being banished from his native Iran, Bahá'u'lláh announced that he was this prophet. He was further exiled, spending over a decade in the prison city of Akka in the Ottoman province of Syria, in what is now Israel. Following Bahá'u'lláh's death in 1892, leadership of the religion fell to his son `Abdu'l-Bahá (1844–1921), and later his great-grandson Shoghi Effendi (1897–1957). Bahá'ís around the world annually elect local, regional, and national Spiritual Assemblies that govern the affairs of the religion, and every five years the members of all National Spiritual Assemblies elect the Universal House of Justice, the nine-member supreme governing institution of the worldwide Bahá'í community, which sits in Haifa, Israel, near the Shrine of the Báb.

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, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad being the most recent in the period before the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. As such, 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.

Letters written by Bahá'u'lláh to various individuals, including some heads of state, have been collected and assembled into a canon of Bahá'í scripture that includes works by his son `Abdu'l-Bahá, and also the Báb, who is regarded as Bahá'u'lláh's forerunner. Prominent among Bahá'í literature are the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Kitáb-i-Íqán, Some Answered Questions, and The Dawn-Breakers.

Selected article

Bahá'í House of Worship in the United States

There are currently seven Bahá'í Houses of Worship around the world, although Bahá'í communities own many properties where they plan for Houses of Worship to be constructed as the Bahá'í community grows and develops.

The name used in the Bahá'í writings for Houses of Worship is Mashriqu'l-Adhkár (Dawning-place of the Remembrance of God). All Bahá'í temples share certain architectural elements, only two of which are specified by Bahá'í scripture, that they are nine-sided and surmounted by domes.

Bahá'í Houses of Worship are open to people of all faiths - or of no particular faith. Services focus solely on the worship of God. There are no collections and no sermons. Only the Word of God is uttered within the Temple, with readings from all the Holy Writings of the earth. The only instrument used is the human voice, and the choir in any Bahá'í House of Worship sings without instrumental accompaniment. No sermons or lectures are permitted inside the House of Worship. As the Bahá'í Faith has no priesthood, ordinary members of the community - men and women, adults and children - read the texts.

Did you know?

..that the Bahá'í Faith speaks of three core assertions, sometimes termed the "three onenesses": the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of mankind?

In addition to these three onenesses the following principles are frequently listed as a quick summary of the Bahá'í teachings.

Selected scripture

The Kalimat-i-Maknunih or Hidden Words were written by Bahá'u'lláh in the form of a collection of short utterances, 71 in Arabic and 82 in Persian, in which Bahá'u'lláh claims to have taken the basic essence of certain spiritual truths and written them in brief form. Here is an excerpt from the book:

O SON OF SPIRIT!
My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.
(Bahá'u'lláh, The Arabic Hidden Words)
O SON OF BEING!
Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant.
(Bahá'u'lláh, The Arabic Hidden Words)
O SON OF DUST!
Verily I say unto thee: Of all men the most negligent is he that disputeth idly and seeketh to advance himself over his brother. Say, O brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.
(Bahá'u'lláh, The Persian Hidden Words)

Selected image

A stylized nine pointed star, with the calligraphy of the Greatest Name in the centre.

The most commonly used Bahá'í symbol is the 9 pointed star. The significance of the number nine comes from several sources. One of the sacred languages of the Bahá'í holy texts is Arabic, whose alphabet can be used to represent numbers, attaching a numerical value to words. The numerical value of Bahá’ is 9.

The Greatest Name, or more fully, the calligraphy of the Greatest Name of God, is another Bahá'í symbol. It is an Arabic calligraphic rendering of "Yá Bahá'ul 'Abhá" (يا بهاء الأبهى usually translated as "O Glory of the Most Glorious!"). This rendering was originally drawn by the eminent early Bahá'í calligrapher Mishkin Qalam, and later adopted by Bahá'ís everywhere.

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Selected Religious Figure

Mírzá Husayn-`Alí (Persian: میرزا حسینعلی‎) (b: 1817 - d: 1892), who later took the title of Bahá'u'lláh (Arabic: بهاءالله‎ "Glory of God") was the founder-prophet of the Bahá'í Faith.

He claimed to fulfill the Bábí prophecy of "He whom God shall make manifest", but in a broader sense he also claimed to be the "supreme Manifestation of God" referring to the fulfillment of the eschatological expectations of a prophetic cycle beginning with Adam, and including Abrahamic religions, as well as Zoroastrianism, the great Dharmic religions, and others. Bahá'ís see Bahá'u'lláh as the initiator of a new religion, as Jesus or Muhammad — but also the initiator of a new cycle, like that attributed to Adam.

During his lifetime, Bahá'u'lláh left a large volume of writings. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and the Book of Certitude are recognized as primary Bahá'í theological works, and the Hidden Words and the Seven Valleys as primary mystical treatises.

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