The Baha'i faith began in Persia on 23 May 1844 when a young man known as the Bab (Gate) proclaimed that he was a Messenger from God and also the herald of 'the Promised One', a messenger greater than himself. He and his followers were severely persecuted by the Persian authorities and the Bab was executed in 1850. Baha'u'llah (the Glory of God) had recognised the divine mission of the Bab and as a result was imprisoned and then exiled with his family to Baghdad, where in 1863 he claimed to be the one whose coming the Bab had foretold. He announced that he had come to help bring about a new age of global civilisation which would be characterised by unity and peace. He was then exiled again and imprisoned and died in Bahji near Akka in Palestine in 1892. Baha'u'llah's shrine in Bahji is today the holiest shrine of the Baha'i world.
The Baha'i Faith is an independent world religion which proclaims the oneness of God, religion and humankind. Baha'is believe that God reveals His purpose progressively through the founders of the major world religions. Key Baha'i beliefs are, belief in God; the unity of humankind; independent investigation of truth; the common foundation of all religions; the essential harmony of science and religion; equality of opportunity for men and women; elimination of prejudice of all kinds; universal compulsory education; the need for a universal auxiliary language; abolition of extremes of wealth and poverty; the protection of religious and cultural diversity, and the establishment of universal peace by a world government which will have international courts of justice.
Customs and Practices
Baha'i custom and practice is founded on scriptures written by Baha'u'llah. The focus of the Baha'i community is the Nineteen Day Feast when local Baha'is meet to worship, discuss the affairs of their faith and have fellowship together. Obligations on individual Baha'is include daily prayer and observing an annual 19-day fast abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset.
Places of Worship
The Baha'i Faith has a House of Worship on every continent where Baha'is and people of every faith can come and worship. Depending on the size of the community, Baha'is may worship at their local centre or meet to worship in individual homes.
Festivals and holy days are based on the birthdays of important figures of the Baha'i Faith or significant events in the history of the faith, such as the birthday of Baha'u'llah on the 12th November.
Food and Diet
Baha'is do not have food laws but are advised to eat moderately and keep a balanced, healthy diet. They do not drink alcohol and drug taking is not allowed unless prescribed by a doctor.
Click here for useful links to the Baha'i Faith.