The Baha’i Faith
Bill Johnston, Lacy Smith and Chuck Last
Oklahoma Wesleyan University
The Baha'i faith is one of the newer world religions stemming originally from Shi'ite Islam in Persia. However, it has come to achieve a unique status of its own. Baha’u’llah was founded in the mid-1800’ and is among the fastest growing religions. It is recognized by millions throughout the world and is considered a distinct world religion. The followers await the return of a madhi, or Messiah figure, at the end of time. The Bab is considered an independent Messenger of God who plays a role similar to John the Baptist in the founding of Christianity. Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází was the founder of Bábism, and one of three central figures of the Bahá'í Faith. He was a merchant from Shíráz, Persia, who at the age of twenty-four symbolically claimed to be the promised Qá'im (or Mahdi). After his declaration he took the title of Báb meaning "Gate" (Baha’i facts, 2011). He composed hundreds of letters and books in which he stated his messianic claims and defined his teachings, which constituted a new sharí'ah or religious law. His movement eventually acquired tens of thousands of supporters, was opposed by Iran's Shi'a clergy, and was suppressed by the Iranian government, leading to the persecution and killing of thousands of his followers, called Bábís. Founded more than a century and a half ago, the Bahá'í Faith has spread around the globe. Members of the Bahá'í Faith live in more than 100,000 localities and come from nearly every nation, ethnic group, culture, profession, and social or economic background. After the passing of Baha'u'llah, his son Abdu'l-Baha took control of the faith as dependable translator of his father's writings. Abdu'l-Baha was succeeded by his grandson, Shoghi Effendi, the last of the individual leaders. Today, central authority rests in an assembly known as the Universal House of Justice. This faith proclaims to have only one God and...
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