Bahá’u’lláh (“The Glory of God”), Revealer of the Bahá’í message, proclaimed that we’re all united in spirit — there’s one God, one humanity and one common faith sent by God through great prophets Bahá’ís call Manifestations of God who have appeared periodically throughout the world. God is transcendent and can’t be known directly but through the spiritual teachings revealed by the Manifestations of God Who are united in proclaiming the need for us to educate our souls by acquiring spiritual attributes – such as love, compassion, justice, generosity, patience, etc. – that we need in this world and through all the worlds of God. As we sincerely humble ourselves, we become able to reflect God’s attributes, like mirrors reflect the sun. The purpose of our lives is to acquire these divine attributes that will continue to serve us in the life beyond this material plane.
“As the child in the womb does not yet know the use of its members, it does not know what its eyes are for, neither its nose, nor ears, nor tongue — so also it is with the soul on earth. It cannot understand here the uses and powers of its spiritual gifts, but directly it enters the eternal kingdom, it will become clearly apparent.” –Abdu’l-Baha
The object of all religion is and has been to transform the inner and outer character of humankind to promote the unity of the human race that we may carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. Spirit emanates from God and at birth it acquires a soul that enables it to explore creation. All human beings should unite as one, no matter what sex, race, nationality or creed. Baha’u’llah said “the earth is one country and mankind its citizens.”
Manifestations of God differ only in the social laws they reveal, that necessarily change across time and place. As the most recent of the Manifestations, Bahá’u’lláh has brought social teachings for today and for the entire planet. The Bahá’í Faith accepts other revealed religions as true and valid, seeing each as a stage in the progressive revelation of God. That is, although religions all have the same spiritual foundations, social laws change as humanity evolves individually and collectively.
Baha’u’llah has revealed a system that is God-centered in justice, love and unity in diversity. Rather has abolished clergy and replaced it with local and national assemblies of nine individuals as well as a world body. People are elected in an atmosphere of prayer, anyone over the age of 21 is eligible to be elected to serve. Elections to the local and national administrative bodies and an international one occur without campaigning or discussion of names.
Baha’is are expected to study the vast library of scripture and are free to express their own understanding. However, the only authorized interpreters have been the son of Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha; the late Guardian Shoghi Effendi and now the world body called the Universal House of Justice, residing at the Baha’i World Center in Haifa, Israel. “Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths.” – Baha’u’llah
Regular Bahá’í meetings, called Feasts, occur once every Baha’i month. The Baha’i calendar comprises 19 months of 19 days with 4 or 5 extra days of celebration. The Feast includes a spiritual portion consisting of readings and prayers from Baha’i scripture, a business portion where local Bahá’í communities consult about social engagement and service, and a social portion of food and fellowship. where we worship, socialize and consult together on actions to be carried out. Such consultation requires eliminating all prejudice to let all voices be heard as we build a loving, just community. Baha’u’llah said, “Deny not My servant should he ask anything from thee, for his face is My face; be then abashed before Me.”
Because Baha’i teachings focus on the oneness of God, religion and humanity, Baha’is engage in service and social action that will help put such principles into reality with such actions as eliminating all prejudices, realizing equality of sex and race, ministering to the poor, developing an economy based on spiritual principles.
There is presently one House of Worship per each continent which are offered to the world as places of prayer. Baha’is in localities decide whether to buy or rent a meeting place, depending on their circumstances.
There are about 6 million Bahá’ís in the world across 235 countries