Within America, the Baha'i faith is not mainstream, but their presence within our community is being felt and we should embrace it. The principle of the oneness of humankind is the center around which all the teachings of Baha'u'llah encompass. The Baha'i dedication to a whole, peaceful community is undeniable and should be revered for its forward thoughts and actions at obtaining it.
The Baha'i Faith is an independent monotheistic religion based on its own sacred scriptures. They have their own laws, calendar, and Holy days separate from other religions. In 1884 Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, a merchant of Shiraz, Persia (present day Iran), declared he was sent by God to prepare all of humanity for a new age. From this, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad received the title of "The Bab", meaning "gate" in Arabic (http://www.bahai.us/history).
The Bab's teachings soon cultivate a large following in the region of his homeland over the next few years. However, the government and clergy of the time did not view his wisdom the same as his supporters, instead they saw him as a heretic going against what was correct. Because of this, The Bab is arrested and imprisoned, and the government then turned against his followers, known as the Babis. More that 20,000 of his followers were murdered through a series of brutal raids throughout the country (http://www.bahai.us/history).
The Bab was publicly executed in Iran in front of tens of thousands of people in July of 1850. The next person in line was the Bab's top disciple and follower since the early days Baha'u'llah meaning "the glory of god" in Arabic. His lineage is traced to a noble family, imperial Persia’s Sassanian dynasty, but in his young years, he declined their life of wealth for the pursuit of humanitarian goals (http://www.religioustolerance.org/bahai1.htm).
Baha'u'llah was considered the next, more significant messenger of God that the Bab had foretold. God told him this after he was nearly beaten to death, arrested, and thrown into an underground dungeon known as the Black Pit. Over the next 30 years Baha'u'llah released many scriptures and laws of the faith. His teachings were interesting because they also explained how the faith should be carried out in the future. In May 1892 Baha'u'llah dies and a shire is erected in his memory. Even to this day, the shrine of him near the city of Acre is the most religious place in the world for members of the Baha'i. In an action never performed before by a religious leader, he releases a will. In it, he names Abdu'l-Baha, his eldest son, as the head of the faith and the ability to carry on his teachings (http://www.religioustolerance.org/bahai1.htm).
Abdu'l-Baha, "servant of Baha" in Arabic, was the leader during the time the first mention of Baha'i occurred in the United States; recorded in 1893 at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Soon after this in 1907, the first Baha'i Assembly was incorporated in Chicago and became the first in the religion's history to be legal. Soon after this, they built a place of warship in Chicago and had over 1,000 members (http://www.religioustolerance.org/bahai1.htm).
The next big step for Baha'i members was the incorporation of The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States and Canada. It served as a model for future Baha'i assemblies and soon after an explosion of over 180 assemblies were constructed all over the world. During this time however, Shoghi Effendi passed away, ending the lineage of Baha'i leaders. However, during his life he spread Baha'i all over the world and established national administrative institutions. He also published new scripture and translated others into English so growth could boom within North America. He was the first leader to grown the religion internationally and is remembered as an exceptional leader by the Baha'i people...