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History of the Baha’I Faith:

About the Bab, Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi.

The Bab

On May 23, 1844, in Shiraz, Persia, a young man known as the Bab announced the imminent appearance of the Messenger of God awaited by all the peoples of the world. The title Bab means “the Gate”. Although Himself the bearer of an independent revelation from God, the Bab declared that His purpose was to prepare mankind for this advent.

Swift and savage persecution at the hands of the dominant Muslim clergy followed this announcement. The Bab was arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and finally on July 9, 1850 was executed in the public square of the city of Tabriz. Some 20,000 of His followers perished in a series of massacres throughout Persia. Today, the majestic building with the golden dome, overlooking the Bay of Haifa, Israel, and set amidst beautiful gardens, is the Shrine where the Bab’s earthly remains are entombed.

Founder of the Baha’I Faith: Baha’u’llah

Bahá’u’lláh was born in November 12, 1817 in Tehran, into a family of nobility. In His early years, He became renowned for His pious study of the writings of the Quran, and His profound intelligence. In His youth, Bahá’u’lláh and His wife, Navŕb, were known together as the “Father of the Poor”, and the “Mother of Consolation”, for their extraordinary generosity and regard for the impoverished of Tehran. At the age of 28, Bahá’u’lláh received a message telling Him of the Báb , a Messianic figure and Prophet founder of a new Faith, heralding the coming of a Revelation from god unto humankind. Baha’u’lllah accepted the Báb, becoming a follower of the Bábi faith, and began to spread the teaching of the new Cause to become recognized as one of its most influential believers. As a result of the Báb’s tragic execution by a firing squad in 1850, an assassination attempt was instigated on the King of Persia, Nasser-al-Din Shah. Although the perpetrators claimed they were working alone, the entire Báb i community was targeted, and a slaughter of thousands of Báb i followed. Many of the Báb i’s who were not killed, including Bahá’u’lláh, were imprisoned in the notorious Siyah-Chal (Black pit), an underground dungeon containing the worst criminals of Tehran. Bahá’u’lláh Himself was found to be innocent of complicity in the assassination attempt, but remained in the Siyah- Chal for over 4 months. It was in this prison that Bahá’u’lláh received a vision of a Maiden of God, through whom He received His mission as a Messenger of God and as the One whom the Báb Himself had prophesied. As Bahá’u’lláh shared with others His Revelation, government and religious leaders waxed stronger in their oppression. Bahá’u’lláh was stoned and beaten, and was finally banished from Persia. Whilst chained and imprisoned, Bahá’u’lláh continued to promulgate His teachings for the establishment of world unity with His rapidly growing number of believers. Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed His teachings further by addressing Tablets to the kings and rulers of the world to renounce their material conquests, collaborate to settle political disputes, and endeavour toward the betterment of the world and its peoples. Bahá’u’lláh remained imprisoned until His death in 1892, however His progressive, all embracing teaching continue to strengthen their influence throughout the world.

“It shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established…and all nations shall flow unto it.” – Isaiah 2

“I am not the first Buddha who came upon earth, nor shall I be the last. In due time another Buddha will arise in the world, a Holy one…He will reveal to you the same eternal truths which I have taught you...” – Lord Buddha

“Whenever there is decay of righteousness…and there is exaltation of unrighteousness, then I Myself come forth…” –Lord Krishna

“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter…. He shall teach you all things.”- Jesus-Holy Bible (John 14:15-16)

“The Apostle of Allah said, ‘God would send forth a man from the people of my house who will fill the earth will equity as it has been filled with oppression.”-Prophet Mohammad- Holy Quran

Abdu’l-Baha

From earliest childhood, `Abbas Effendi, the eldest son of Baha’u’llah , shared His father’s sufferings and banishments. He took as His title Abdu’l-Baha, the “servant of Bahá.” Baha’u’llah appointed Him the one authorized interpreter of the Baha’I teachings and as Head of the Faith after His own passing. In Abdu’l-Baha was seen a perfect example of the Baha’I way of life.

While Abdu’l-Baha was still a prisoner of the Ottomans the first Baha’I pilgrims from the western world arrived in Acre in 1898. After His release in 1908, Abdu’l-Baha set out on a series of journeys which, in 1911-1913, took Him to Europe and America. There He proclaimed Baha’u’llah’s message of unity and social justice to church congregations, peace societies, the members of trade unions, university faculties, journalists, government officials, and many public audiences.

Abdu’l-Baha passed away in 1921, having consolidated the foundations of the Baha’I Faith and greatly expanded its reach. The northern rooms of the Shrine of the Bab, where He is interred, are a place of pilgrimage for Baha’is visiting the World Centre of their Faith.

The Guardianship: Shoghi Effendi

Abdu’l-Baha in His Will and Testament appointed His grandson, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, Guardian of the Baha’I Faith and interpreter of its teachings. Shoghi Effendi served until his death in 1957. During these thirty-six years the Guardian translated many of the writings of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha into English, expounded their meanings, encouraged the establishment of local and national Baha’I institutions, and guided a series of plans aimed at diffusing Baha’I ideals throughout the world.

In the Holy Land, the Guardian’s enduring memorial is the magnificent setting he created for the World Centre of the Baha’I Faith. The completion of the Shrine of the Bab was his work as was the construction of the International Baha’I Archives building. It was also Shoghi Effendi who designed and laid out the beautiful gardens at Bahjí and on the slopes of Mount Carmel.

The Universal House of Justice, ordained by Baha’u’llah as the legislative authority in the Baha’I Faith, came into existence in 1963. It is a nine-member body elected at five-year intervals by the entire membership of the national governing institutions of the Baha’I world. The House of Justice directs the spiritual and administrative affairs of the Baha’I International Community. It serves, as well, as custodian and trustee of the Baha’I Holy Places and other properties in the Holy Land. Endowed by Baha’u’llah with the authority to legislate on all matters not specifically laid down in the Baha’I scriptures, the House of Justice is the institution that keeps the Baha’I community abreast of an ever-changing world.

History of the Baha’I Faith in India: The history of the Baha’I Faith in India started with the inception of the Faith in Iran when the Bab (literally, the Gate) inaugurated a new era in the history of the human race. The Bab Himself had appointed one of the Indian believers as the ‘Letter of Living’ in 1844-45, the first year of His Ministry. Since then, India is spiritually connected with the Bahá’I Faith.

As foretold by the Bab, the Promised One of all ages and peoples, Bahá’u’lláh (literally the Glory of God) revealed Himself in 1863. He, Himself, dispatched one of the distinguished Baha’I teachers, Jamal Effendi, to teach the Cause of God in the years 1874-75. Jamal Effendi (left) travelled to many States and was successful in attracting many learned people and few Navaabs (ruler of the states) including the Navaab of Rampur State (now in U.P.) to the Faith. One young man who accepted was Syed Mustafa Roumi who later became distinguished in his manifold services and was appointed as a Hand of the Cause of God. Some of them accepted Bahá’u’lláh as the Universal Manifestation of God whose advent has been prophesied in all the Holy Scriptures. The other teachers who came to India during Bahá’u’lláh’s Ministry included Mishkin Qalam, the distinguished Baha’I Calligrapher. A series of teachers from the East and the West continued visiting India and travelling throughout the country during the time of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (literally, the Servant of Bahá), the much-loved Master of the Baha’I Faith. Prominent among them were Mirza Mahram and Mirza Mahmud Zarqani.

To learn more about the Baha'i Faith, please refer to the international Baha'i website.