Bahá’í beliefs address such essential themes as the oneness of God and religion, the oneness of humanity and freedom from prejudice, and the inherent nobility of the human being, the development of spiritual qualities, the integration of worship and service, the fundamental equality of the sexes, the harmony between religion and science, the centrality of justice to all human endeavors, and the importance of education. In addition to these core themes, progressive revelation of religious truth delineates all teachings of all the previous Divine Teachers or Prophets. The dynamics of the relationships that are to bind together individuals, communities, and institutions as our humanity advances towards its collective maturity is also an essential theme of the Bahá’í Faith.
The nine-pointed star is used as an emblem representing ‘9’, the highest digit, hence symbolizes comprehensiveness, culminations, and ‘9’ has exact numerical value of ‘Bahá’ (in the numerology connected with the Arabic alphabet) and ‘Bahá’ is the name of the Revealer of the Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh.
In the year 1863, in what is now modern day Iraq, Bahá’u’lláh declared his mission as the next manifestation in a long line of previous manifestations. He began to share the new message entrusted to Him. He was rejected by the ruling elite, imprisoned, tortured, and banished from His homeland. A series of harsh exiles brought Bahá’u’lláh to what is now modern day Israel. Before Bahá’u’lláh’s passing, He revealed his last Will and Testament naming the line of succession referred to as the Covenant, from Him to His Son ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and then to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s grandson, Shoghi Effendi, and then to Universal House of Justice, ordained by Bahá’u’lláh. A Bahá’í accepts the divine authority of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh and of these appointed successors.
Customs and People
Realization of the principle of the oneness of humanity is at once the goal and operating principle of Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation. Bahá’u’lláh compared the world of humanity to the human body. Within this organism, millions of cells, diverse in form and function, play their part in maintaining a healthy system. Similarly, harmonious relationships among individuals, communities, and institutions serve to sustain society and allow for the advancement of civilization.
The energy that Bahá’ís devote to enhancement of institutional capacity, and the care with which they follow the evolution and development of administrative processes and structures, is not motivated simply by a wish to increase the efficiency with which the Bahá’í community’s own affairs are to be managed. They recognize in this development a necessary contribution to the pattern of a new social order envisaged by Bahá’u’lláh, to the new mature humanity will attend to its political, social, and cultural affairs.
Bahá’ís observe these special occasions: Naw-Rúz (first day of the Bahá’í calendar); Ridván (12-day festival commemorating the commencement of Bahá’u’lláh’s prophethood in which the first, ninth and twelfth days have special significance); Declaration of the Báb; Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh; Martyrdom of the Báb; Birth of the Báb; Birth of Bahá’u’lláh; the Day of the Covenant; and Ayyám-i-Há (Intercalary Days).
Prayer is integral to Bahá’í life, whether at the level of the individual, the community, or the institutions. Bahá’ís turn their hearts in prayer to God repeatedly throughout the day—imploring His assistance, supplicating Him on behalf of loved ones, offering praise and gratitude, and seeking divine confirmations and guidance. Bahá’ís also host gatherings in which friends, Bahá’ís and others alike, unite together in prayer, often in the homes of one another. Devotional meetings such as these serve to awaken spiritual susceptibilities within the participants, and in concert with the acts of service they perform, lead to a pattern of community life that is infused with the spirit of devotion and focused on the attainment of spiritual and material prosperity.