Baha’i Faith The Bah’ Faith The Bah’ Faith proclaims itself to be the youngest of the independent world religions. Its roots stem from Iran during the mid-nineteenth century. This new faith is primarily based on the founder, Bah’u’llh, meaning ‘the Glory of God’. Bah’s (the believers) in many places around the world have been heavily persecuted for their beliefs and differences and have been branded by many as a cult, a reform movement and/or a sect of the Muslim religion. The Bah’ Faith is unique in that it accepts the teachings of what they believe to be all the divine messengers, these are Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, the Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. The faith believes each messenger is equally authentic of the one living God.
This is in line with what is called progressive revelation. What is meant by progressive revelation is that, Bah’s believe that this series of interventions by God in human history has been progressive, each revelation from God more complete than those which preceded it, and each preparing the way for the next. The teachings of these messengers are seen as a path for people’s salvation. With each new messenger, more is revealed by God.
Like a long journey or novel, the ones who were before prepared the way for the next, and with the next making it more complete.Like Muslims, Bah’s believe that God is One. God manifests his will to humanity through the series of messengers whom Bah’s call Manifestations of God. This purpose is to provide perfect guidance for both all encompassing spiritual growth and the unification of all societies. Bah’s believe that all of these religions are each one part of a divine plan. The Faith first appeared in Persia (which is now Iran), where Islam was the dominating religion.It grew out of Islam much like Christianity had bloomed out of Judaism. The new believers religious ideas were based on the Qur’n, and believed that within the Qur’n, that the prophecies of it were being fulfilled.
Initially Islamic clergy saw the followers as Muslim Heretics. And from these Heretics, the first phase of the Faith was laid down; it was to become known as the Bb Faith. The progenitors of the Faith were direct descendants of the Imams (Shiah chosen leaders).Tension grew between the Sunni and Shiah sects due to differences in belief of what leadership should prevail and rule after Muhammad’s death. The first Sunni dynasty gained power twenty-nine years after Muhammad’s death, and at once began putting the Imams to death, these descendents of Muhammad believed that it was them who should continue with Muhammad’s teachings and assume the leadership of the people. With the persecution of the Imams, Shiah tradition says a young child, known as the twelfth Imam, was concealed to avoid execution. He was then to be known as the ‘Hidden Imam’.
For a period of sixty-nine years following his disappearance, the Hidden Imam was said to have communicated secretly with his followers through arbitrators, who took the title of bbs (gate).With the passing of the bbs, the title was passed on to a newly appointed one. The fourth and last bb refused or was unable to appoint a new successor and it was therefore implied that the matter to be left in the hands of God. On May 23, 1844 in the city of Shiraz, a man named Siyyid Ali Muhammad announced that he was the promised final Bb.
To the Muslim clergy the claims made by this man were a threat to the foundation of Islam. The Bb’s (Siyyid) mission was that he was the long awaited Imam Mahdi (the Guided One), the messenger of God, the one to free the Bb’s (followers of the Shiah sect, awaiting for the new Imam) from the Islamic Shari’ah (canon law).With this threat, uneasiness occurred and outbreaks of violence ensued, armed forces were then sent to crush this Bb movement. The Bb was executed in 1852, and while thousands of Bb ‘s were also slaughtered at this time, the Faith at this point barely hung on to the edge of existence. The Bbs mission appeared to have ended in failure.
A handful of Bb’s escaped the massacre from 1848-1852, and among them was a noble man named Mirza Husayn ‘Ali’. Mirza was a devoted Bb and one of the first to proclaim his faith to the Bb.These few believers’ freedom ended in 1852 when the government captured the remaining of these Bb’s. The Bb’s were placed in what was known in the East, as the most horrible jail to ever exist. It was given the name ‘the Black Pit’, by all who knew of it. It was here that Mirza would sit with chains around his legs, arms and neck for four months.
With each passing day, a new Bb would fall to the hands of an executioner.It was during these four months, that Mirza gained the title Bah’u’llh (the Glory of God), and contemplated his full mission. The experience in the ‘Black Pit’ set in motion a process of religious revelation which, over the next forty years, led to the production of hundreds of books, tablets and letters. This material forms the core of the sacred scripture of the Bah’ Faith.
In these writings, Bah’u’llh outlined a framework for the reconstruction of all human society at all levels: spiritual, moral, economic, political and philosophical. At the end of his four-month jail term, Bah’u’llh began his life of banishment.His journey of exile began in Baghdad following Istanbul, Edirine and finally Acre, Israel. In each new city Bah’u’llh would gain the reputation as a spiritual and gifted teacher, which drew listeners, followers and believers of all social class backgrounds.
Bah’u’llhs growing influence excited intense fear and suspicion in the minds of the Shah and his government under Islamic rule. Shortly before the move to Istanbul, Bah’u’llh prayed in a garden on the Tigris River, known to Bah’s as the garden of Ridvan (Paradise). It was in this garden that he announced to his closet followers that he was He Whom God Will Make Manifest, the universal messenger of God promised by the Bb and by the scriptures of the earlier divine religions. Bah’ history refers to Bah’u’llhs experience in the Black Pit as the dawning of his revelation (this event is still celebrated around the world as the chief festival of the Faith).
With each attempt made by the Shah and his party to banish Bah’u’llh from country to country, Bah’u’llh left each different place with a renewed assurance and power, and with a stronger following. The teachings of Bah’u’llh that gained him such respect included three basic principles. 1) The oneness of God 2) The oneness of humankind 3) The unity of re …