About the Bahá'í Faith
Introduction to the Bahá'í Faith
How do you pronounce Bahá’í?
Take “bah” and “high” and run them together: “ba-high”.
What does "Bahá’ís" mean?
It’s the plural form of Bahá’í. A single member of the Faith is a Bahá’í (“ba-high”). Multiple members of the Faith, as a group, are called Bahá’ís (“ba-hize”).
What is the Bahá’í Faith?
It is a world religion, founded in 1863, that has spread to approximately 100,000 localities around the globe, with more than five million members worldwide.
More statistics can be found here.
What does Bahá’í mean?
“Follower of the Glory”. In this case “Glory” is part of the name of the Founder of the Faith (see next answer).
Who do Bahá’ís follow?
Bahá’ís follow the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh (“ba-ha-oh-la”), the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. Bahá’u’lláh means "Glory of God".
Bahá’u’lláh was born in Persia (what is now known as Iran); was raised as a prince in a noble house; declined invitations to serve as a high official in government; and at the proper time revealed Himself to be the Bearer of a new Revelation from God for humankind. He suffered for forty years as he spread His message: with multiple banishments, poisoning, and long years of imprisonment. Nonetheless his message has spread around the world, and has inspired the creation of a vibrant and growing global community.
What is the current leadership of the Faith?
Bahá’u’lláh left clear instructions, in a written Will and Testament, for the succession of authority after his passing. In faithful observance of His instructions, leadership has passed in stages: first to his eldest son, then to an appointed Guardian, and finally to an international body elected by and from the Bahá’ís of the world, named the Universal House of Justice. Further, in each country where there are enough Bahá’ís, the Bahá’îs of that country elect a National Spiritual Assembly to administer Bahá’í affairs at a national level. Similarly, in each locality where there are enough Bahá’ís, the Bahá’ís of that locality elect a Local Spiritual Assembly to administer Bahá’í affairs at a local level.
As of 2017 there are 188 National Spiritual Assemblies around the world.
An unique element of Bahá’í leadership is that there is is no clergy. Instead, it is the responsibility of every individual Bahá’í, to the best of his or her ability, to study the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, to apply them to their lives, and to help others do the same.
It is significant to note that by earnest adherence to Bahá’u’lláh's teachings the Faith has been able to grow to encircle the world without fragmenting into sects or divisions. There is only one, global, Bahá’í Faith, and its followers around the world are working with a high level of collective unity and coordination to make a better world for all humanity.
Do Bahá’ís have a “Bible”?
The Writings of the Bahá’í Faith are too vast to be contained in one volume. The collected books, tablets and letters of Bahá’u’lláh and His immediate successors add up to the equivalent of more than two hundred volumes of written Scriptures and authentic interpretations. This comprises a vast ocean of Divine guidance. Various portions of the Bahá’í Writings have been translated into numerous languages, with more being done all the time. At present there are tens of volumes that are available in English, plus many compilations of letters and tablets that focus on different topics.
Where can I find and read some of these Writings?
There are four main options:
o In an effort to make the Bahá’í Writings as widely available at as low a cost as possible, many of the Writings are available for free on the internet. See the Online Resources page of this website.
o Conventional booksellers, such as Amazon.com, are increasingly stocking a wide variety of books about the Faith — both the Writings themselves, and books by Bahá’ís about various topics, such as general introductions to the Faith.
o The Bahá’í Distribution Service is the official publishing arm of the American National Spiritual Assembly. They have available a variety of books, pamphlets, compilations, music, jewelry and so forth. Some of the books are available as downloadable eBooks at no cost. Here is their web address: http://www.bahaibookstore.com There are similar Bahá’í publishing services in a number of countries.
o The Albuquerque Bahá’í Center has a nice bookstore, were we keep a range of materials in stock for purchase. Call before you come, to make sure it will be open when you wish to visit. The phone number for the Center is (505) 232-2424.