Baha'i

Baha'i (bähäˈē, –hĪˈ, bə–) [key], religion founded by Baha Ullah (born Mirza Huseyn Ali Nuri) and promulgated by his eldest son, Abdul Baha (1844–1921). It is a doctrinal outgrowth of Babism, with Baha Ullah as the Promised One of the earlier religion. The Baha'i faith holds that God can be made known to humankind through manifestations that have come at various stages of human progress; prophets include Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, the Bab, and Baha Ullah. Baha'is believe in the unity of all religions, in universal education, in world peace, and in the equality of men and women. An international language and an international government are advocated. Emphasis is laid upon simplicity of living and upon service to the suffering. The teachings spread in the 20th cent., particularly in Africa. The center of the faith in the United States is the great house of worship at Wilmette, Ill. The administrative center of the world faith is in Haifa, Israel, the site of Baha Ullah's tomb. There are some 5 million Baha'is in the world, with the largest communities in India and Iran. Prior to the Iranian revolution (1979) there were about 1 million Iranian Baha'is, who, despite widespread societal discrimination, had generally prospered. Under the Iranian Islamic republic, which regards the religion as an Islamic heresy, Baha'i is banned; Baha'i religious institutions were closed, and Baha'i property confiscated. Baha'is were removed from government posts, thousands were imprisoned, and several hundred were executed.

See S. Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come (rev. ed. 1980); P. Smith, The Baha'i Religion (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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