Baha’i Glossary of Terms

by Jerremy Butler

Abdu’l-Baha: The son and appointed successor of the Baha’i by its founder Baha’u’llah.  He is known as the “Center of the Covenant.”  He is the one in which all Baha’is should turn towards.  He is also the authorized interpreter of his father Baha’u’llah’s writings.  He is also seen as the perfect example to follow for Baha’is. 

Ablutions: This is ritual washing of the hands and face in preparation for prayer.  This is a required daily task for all Baha’is.
Administrative Order: The affairs of the Baha’i Faith are administered by this collective group of Baha’i institutions.

Akka: This is a prison-city near Haifa in present-day Israel.  This is where Baha’u’llah was imprisoned from August 1868 through June 1877.

Allah-u-Abha: This is often used as a greeting by Baha’is.  It is also a form of the name of the Greatest Name.  It literally means “God, the All-Glorious.”

Ancient of Days: This is a title of God that appears in the book of Daniel and also is frequently used in the Baha’i Holy Writings.

Ancient Beauty: This is a title of Baha’u’llah.

Auxiliary Board: The Universal House of Justice appointed this administrative body.  Their point is to take over the functions of the Hands of the Cause of God. 

The Bab (1819-1850): This is the founder of the Babi Faith and the forerunner of Baha’u’llah and the Baha’i Faith.  He is sometimes compared to John the Baptist by Baha’is.  He was publically persecuted on July 9th, 1850.

Babi Calendar: This is the calendar used by the Baha’is.  It is a solar calendar that has 19 months.  Each month has 19 days within it.  There are 4 extra days each year, 5 within a leap year, that is inserted between the 18th and 19th months.

Baha’u’llah (1817-1892): The founder of the Baha’i Faith.  He spent 40 years of doing ministry in prison and exile.  He compiled his Holy Writings, which comprise 100 volumes of work, while in prison and exile.

Baha’i: A follower of Baha’u’llah.

Continental Boards of Counsellors: This is an administrative body appointed by the Universal House of Justice.  The purpose of this body is to take over the functions of the Hands of the Cause of God.

Covenant: This is an agreement between God and humanity.  There are two covenants recognized by Baha’is.  They are the Greater Covenant and the Lesser Covenant. 

Devotional Gathering: This is a gathering of Baha’is and people of other faiths in order to read from the Holy Writings of the World’s religions.  There are often readings from the Bible, the Qur’an, and other Holy Writings, but they usually focus on the Baha’i Holy Writings.

The Fast: Baha’is observe a 19 day fast every year from March 2-20. 

Feast: Baha’is observe a gathering on the first day of each Baha’i month, which is every 19 days, which includes prayers, discussions and socializing.

Fireside: This is an informal, introductory meeting for those who want to learn about the Baha’i Faith. 

Greater Covenant: This is the agreement between God and each Divine Messenger.  This agreement states that if the Divine Messenger’s followers are obedient to God, then there will be another Divine Messenger that will appear in the future.

Greatest Name: This is one of the names that Baha’u’llah was called. 

The Guardian: This is a title for Shoghi Effendi, who was Abu’l-Baha’s grandson.  He was given the sole authority to interpret the Holy Writings of the Baha’i Faith.  The Universal House of Justice took this task over after his death.

Hands of the Cause of God: This was a title for life for individuals who were to protect and spread the Baha’i Faith.  There were only 50 who were given this title.  Only Baha’u’llah, Abu’l-Baha, and Shoghi Effendi appointed these individuals to this position. 

Holy Day: There are 11 Holy Days within the Baha’i Faith. 

House of Justice: This is a group of nine elected officials who have jurisdiction over the Baha’i Faith in a specific region.  At the present moment, there is only the Universal House of Justice in existence.

House of Worship: This is a temple where Baha’i worship services are conducted.  At the present time, there are seven Houses of Worship with one more being constructed. 

Local Spiritual Assembly: This is an elected administrative body that takes care of the affairs of the Baha’i Faith at the local level.

Lesser Covenant: This is a promise between Baha’u’llah and his followers.  Baha’u’llah promised that he would protect the unity of the Baha’i Faith if his followers would be obedient to the ordinances and institutions of the Baha’i Faith.

Lesser Peace: This is a state of world peace brought on by a worldwide peace treaty.  Baha’u’llah actually called on the leaders of the world to create this lesser peace.

Manifestation of God: This was a Divine Messenger that was sent by God in order to reveal the teachings of God to humanity.  There are nine Manifestations of God: Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, the Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, the Bab, and Baha’u’llah.  There will also be future Manifestations of God, which come about every 1000 years or so.  They are seen as the “express image” of attributes and perfection of God.

National Spiritual Assembly (NSA): This is an elected body that takes care of the affairs of the Baha’i faith at the national level.

Naw-Ruz: This is March 21st on our calendar.  This is the first day of the year on the Baha’i calendar and is also celebrated as a Holy Day in the Baha’i Faith.  This is also the traditional Persian New Year.

Obligatory Prayer: This is a prayer that is required by religious law.  There are three obligatory prayers for Baha’is to use.  One of the three must be said each and every day.

Progressive Revelation: This is the way that God reveals His will towards humanity.  The world’s major religions are part of this ongoing process of progressive revelation.  Progressive revelation was given through the Manifestations of God. 

Revelation: The revealing of something to humanity by God that was previously hidden. 

Shoghi Effendi (1896-1957): This is the great-grandson of Baha’u’llah.  He was the first Guardian of the Baha’i Faith who had the authority to interpret the writings of the Baha’i Faith.

Universal House of Justice: The Universal House of Justice is the worldwide governing body of the Baha’i Faith.  There are nine individuals that comprise the Universal House of Justice.  They are elected every five years.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.