The Baha’i Faith, founded in 1863 in Tehran, Persia (present-day Iran), is one of the youngest of the world’s independent religions. Its founder, Baha’u’llah, is regarded by the Baha’i as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God which stretches back beyond recorded time, and which includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ, and Muhammad.
The central theme of the Baha’i faith is that humanity is one single race and that it is of utmost importance to unify humanity into one global society. The Baha’i believe there is only one God who is unknowable and indescribable, and that God continually sends the Messengers who are all manifestations of the same spirit.
Baha’u’llah is the most recent manifestation. Since all past religions and religious texts come from God, Baha’is study these texts to see how Baha’u’llah fulfills the prophecies.
There are no clergy in the Baha’i Faith, so members learn about their faith through reading and weekly gatherings. Each member’s duty is to study the faith and spread the teachings of the Baha’i, offering their own interpretations of the texts.
There is no hierarchy in the Baha’i Faith; rather councils on local, national, and world levels handle administrative tasks.
Work is an integral part of their faith and is considered part of their daily worship. Having a job is seen as serving mankind.
The Baha’i follow the laws of the Ten Commandments. They also forbid gambling, alcohol, drug abuse, and gossip.
They strive to live a life of high moral standards, emphasizing honesty, trustworthiness, service to others, chastity, purity of motive, generosity, and unity. Celebrations include an annual fasting time and 8 holy days in which practitioners remember events in the lives of the founders. On holy days, the Baha’i do not work and this is considered a sacrifice.
Currently, there are over 5 million followers of the Baha’i Faith located in 235 countries and territories. In the United States, there are 127,000 Baha’i practitioners. The Baha’i texts have been translated into 800 different languages.