There are over 5 million Baha’is in 236 countries around the world today. But who are they? How did their religion start? The Baha’i faith started in the 19th century. Its roots started with a young Persian merchant named Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, who took the name “Bab,” which in Arabic means “Gate” or “Door.” On May 23rd, 1844, he announced that he was the bearer of a Divine Revelation which would change the spiritual life of humanity. One of his primary teachings was that there would be a second messenger from God that is greater than he is. This second messenger’s mission would be to bring about an age of peace and justice, which is the same mission that the major religions of the world are trying to accomplish. The Bab is in many ways similar to John the Baptist, who told about a coming one who would be greater than himself. In Christianity, the greater one is Jesus Christ. In Baha’i, it is Baha’u’llah.
This promised second messenger of God was Mirza Husayn Ali, who called himself "Baha’u’llah," meaning "glory of God." Baha'u'llah was born to a wealthy, noble family in Persia during the 19th century. He grew to have more interest in helping the poor than having the wealth and prestige of this noble family. He claimed he had a vision from God showing him God’s will for humanity while imprisoned in Tehran in 1852. In 1863, he shared that he was the promised one that the Bab foretold. He is seen as the latest prophet or Manifestation of God given to mankind. The prophets also include Moses, Jesus, Abraham, Krishna, Muhammad, Buddha, etc., whose purpose was to create the world’s great religions and to show humanity how to worship God. These messengers were sent by a loving Creator in order to bring people to a place to worship Him. Baha’u’llah was imprisoned or exiled for over 40 years, in which he wrote over 100 volumes of religious writings that the Baha’i community follow today. Baha’u’llah died in exile in Palestine in 1892.1
- 1. All of this information came from the Baha’i website www.bahai.org.