Founder and important people:
1. Bab: (gate) Actual name, Mirza Ali Muhammed (1819-1850)
2. Baha'u'llah: (glory of God) Actual name, Mirza Husayn Ali, the founder of Bahaism (1817-1892)
3. Abdul'Baha: (servant of God) Actual name, Abbas Effendi, the son of Baha'u'llah (1884-1921)
4. Shoghi Effendi: Eldest grandson of Abdul'Baha
Name: Bahai- Name means follower of Baha'u'llah.
Date of actual start: 1844
World Headquarters: Haifa, Israel
Other Headquarters: Frankfort, Germany; Sydney, Australia; Kampala, Uganda; Panama City, Panama; Wilmette; Illinois.
Books and Writings: (Baha'u'llah's 200 books are called “Books of Laws”)
1. The Star of the West (the official book in the U.S.)
2. Bahai World Faith
3. The Book of Certitude
4. The Hidden Words
5. Prayer and Meditations
6. All Things Made New
7. Baha'u'llah and the New Era
There is today a general excitement about anything ecumenical. The shift and large influence of advocates of a one world church and one world government have served to advance the idea that denominations are sinful and the only hope of the world is a unified world church. Because of the philosophy, (The Bahai Faith aims for the whole world.), and ecumenical spirit of Bahai it has been termed by some “the world's fastest growing religion.”
The Bahai's are in over 50 countries with a “quoted” membership in the millions. Their work in the United States is largely concentrated on college campuses and in minority areas. The growth in the U.S. has been extremely great in certain areas; California, Chicago, New York, and the deep south. They have four schools in the U.S.; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Geyersville, California; Davidson, Michigan; and Elliot, Maine.
Studies of the Early Leaders:
1.Bab: A young Persian businessman, who had a great religious zeal to better the country he lived in, felt he was “divinely” commissioned to find a Messiah, even though he was a member of a Muslim sect called the Shaykibs. At the time he lived the Persian government was corrupt, there was religious hatred, wide-spread immorality and national poverty when he met a young man whom he told about his quest for the Messiah. After hearing the description of the new Messiah the young man told Mulla Hasaya, he was the Messiah he was looking for; this was in 1844. The young man was Bab. Bab soon felt he was to herald a greater Messiah to come. As he spoke and traveled, a great persecution followed him and his converts. Many were tortured and put to death, yet the religion grew until Bab himself was sentenced to death in 1850.
According to the Bahai's, a regiment of 750 soldiers shot their rifles at Bab and missed. Thinking this was a miracle, the soldiers left, but another regiment riddled his body with bullets. Before his death, Bab had sent his signet ring and writings to one of his most ardent supporters, Mirza Husayn Ali; later Baha'u'llah. The death of Bab did not stop the new cult as he told of a “promised one” to come who would unify all and was a manifestation of the only true God.
2. Baha'u'llah: A wealthy nobleman named Mirza Husayn Ali, was told by an angel while in a dungeon that he was the “promised one” as was spoken by Bab. After being released from prison and exiled to Baghdad, he devoted his time to writing Bahai scriptures, but still kept his identity secret. Finally in 1863, it was released that Baha'u'llah was to be taken to Constantinople and it was at this time that he made himself known as the “promised one.”
Baha'u'llah's brother renounced him and fought against him but to no avail. As a result of this war between the brothers, Baha'u'llah was sent to Acre in Palestine. Here Baha'u'llah spent the rest of his life in prison. From him, the Bahai faith grew and continued to grow. Baha'u'llah died in prison in 1892, despite his claim to immortality.
3. Abdul'Baha: This is the eldest son of Baha'u'llah who was to be the interpreter of his teaching and the Exemplar of Faith. He made no claims for himself since Baha'u'llah declared no more manifestations of diety would appear for 1,000 years. He was brought to the United States in 1912 after having spread the faith worldwide. He was in the U.S. for eight months, during which time he laid the cornerstone for the temple in Wilmette, Illinois. He continued writing many Bahai books, etc. until his death in 1921.
The Temple at Wilmette, Illinois: This is a beautiful structure on the shore of Lake Michigan, which is their national headquarters, through which 100,000 plus people pass each year. Baha'u'llah wrote that every community should have a beautiful temple to worship in for all men and women to come and meditate and pray.
The Wilmette temple is unique in that the numerical nine, the number of perfection in Bahai, is readily seen. There are nine entrances to the inner sanctuary, an entrance for each major religion and its leader; Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Zoraster, Christ, Mohammed, Krishna, Lao, Baha'u'llah. There are nine pillars, nine arches, and the temple is in park with nine sides, avenues, gateways and fountains. The architecture is a combination of the nine religions; synagogue, mosque, cathedral, etc.
At a cost of $3,000,000 and almost 23 years of building, this beautiful shrine was completed in 1953. If the Bahai's are so concerned with equality and welfare, why the great expense on a building?
The Bahai Calendar:
1. Nineteen months of nineteen days each
2. One month is a fast month
3. Each first day is a fast day
4. Nine Holy days to observe
5. New Year's Day is March 21
6. Bahai day begins and ends at sunset
The Bahai Universal House of Justice: Co-ordination and direction of international Bahai activities are now directed by this body of nine members in residence in Haifa, Israel. Each is elected for five years. The group deals with administration, judicial, and matters not expressly revealed in the Bahai writings.
The Bahai Faith and Its Teachings: The faith of Baha'u'llah is called a world-faith for three basic reasons:
1. It is found in 300 countries and territories in the world. All faiths find a unity in Bahaism.
2. The faith develops world mindedness. No racial prejudice and a complete strive for equality in the entire world.
3. The Bahai faith offers a clear pattern of world order. They want one common faith and one united people.
Bahai's believe in only one God. They claim God reveals His word in each period of history through a chosen individual whom the Bahai's call the manifestation of God. This one restates in every age God's purpose and will. His teachings are a revelation from God, i.e. Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Baha'u'llah.
Since there is one God, these men have taught the same religious faith and have met the needs of the people for that period of history. This is called Progressive Revelation. Therefore, the basis of the Bahai faith is one God has given man one faith throughout through progressive revelations of his will in each period of history and Baha'u'llah reveals God's will for this age. This basic belief enables Bahai's to work to unite all people of all backgrounds into one order. To do this Baha'u'llahs emphasizes these principles:
1. Man must seek truth in spite of custom, prejudices and tradition
2. Men and women must have total equality
3. An international language
4. All children must receive equal basic education
5. A total effort to wipe out all prejudices
6. Religion and science go hand in hand
7. Abolish extreme wealth and poverty
8. Strong marriages, no gambling, drugs, drinking, lodge membership, political involvement, or idleness
Things to Know in Talking to Bahai's:
1. Although Oriental in origin, Bahaism has been made one of our culture and has imitated Christianity whenever possible to attract the Western mind.
2. Bahaism is eager not to conflict with the gospel, but willingly allow the Christian to adhere to his belief just so they acknowledge Baha'u'llah and his teachings.
3. Bahaism tried to tone down any dogmatic Christian doctrine; there is no absolute truth.
4. Bahaism is not original, as it has borrowed from Islam and Christianity.
5. They use all religions to defend Baha'u'llah.
6. The basic Christian doctrines are denied. Christ is manifestation, not the only manifestation.
7. Know their teachings and ideals to refute it in light of scripture.
8. Get them to agree that the Bible is the Word of God.
Founder and important people: