An introduction to the Bahá'í faith

Sophia Cai, Sidwell Friends '16

A history of Bahá'í Faith and the principles and teachings behind it. (Published: 2015)

One of the main beliefs of the Bahá'í Faith is that all religions of the world have come successively from one God--each suited to the age in which it was revealed. In other words, God’s religion is progressively unfolding. Although we may have different concepts of religion, pray in different languages, and refer to God differently--God, Yahweh, Allah, Brahma, the Great Spirit, etc--everything derives from the same transcendent Being.

Out of love for God’s creation, mankind, He has revealed himself to humanity through a series of Divine Educators. These include, Abraham (2000 B.C.E.), Moses (1500 B.C.E.), Zoroaster (1000 B.C.E.), Buddha (500 B.C.E.), Jesus (A.D. 30), Muhammad (A.D. 622), The Bab (A.D. 1844), and Bahá'u'lláh (A.D. 1863). These dates correspond roughly to when these manifestations began revealing their messages to the public.

Each reflects God’s light in all its splendor. These Divine Messengers have appeared approximately every 500 to 1,000 years. Their teachings educate and guide humanity, awakening in whole populations fresh spiritual, intellectual, and moral capacities that serve to advance civilization both spiritually and materially. The last name listed, Bahá'u'lláh, is the founder of the Bahá'í Faith and who we, Bahá'í followers, believe to be the most recent Divine Educator sent from God.

Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892), whose name means “the Glory of God,” was born into nobility in Persia (modern-day Iran). He was renowned for His generosity, compassion, keen intelligence, and excellent character. In the middle of the 19th century, Bahá'ís believe that Bahá'u'lláh was summoned by God to deliver a new revelation, thereby fulfilling prophecies and ushering in an era of universal peace.

As Bahá'u'lláh began to share new teachings from God, He was rejected by the ruling elite, imprisoned, tortured, and banished from His homeland. A series of harsh exiles brought Bahá'u'lláh to Ottoman Palestine (modern-day Israel), where, although still a prisoner, He continued to reveal the word of God until He passed away in 1892.

“Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship.”

Bahá'u'lláh’s teachings form the basis of the Bahá'í Faith. They are a message of infinite hope for all of humanity: “I have never aspired after worldly leadership. My sole purpose hath been to hand down unto men that which I was bidden to deliver by God…”

The teachings, revealed over four decades, are vast in scope. They speak of universal peace as “the supreme goal of all humankind” and explain the spiritual principles that will guide humanity to


this peace. The major teachings to be garnered are the oneness of humanity, the nobility of each human being, harmony between religion and science, the equality of women and men, elimination of all forms of prejudice, education for all, spiritual solutions to economic problems and justice in all human endeavors.

A quote of Bahá'u'lláh’s that I find most relevant to address the biases in the world is one where he likens humankind to a beautiful garden in which the uniqueness of each member enriches the beauty of the whole: “Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship.” Bahá'ís view Bahá'u'lláh’s teachings as matters of immediate and practical concern for individuals, communities, and institutions alike. Through a process of consultation, action and reflection, Bahá'ís around the world are learning to translate these lofty goals into a concrete social reality. With this unifying vision, Sidwell’s community or any other community can continue to grow its beauty by further seeking out and appreciating diversity among its members.