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Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Baha’i faith

The Baha’i religion was founded in the 19th century from a Muslim splinter group, Babism, by the Persian mystic Baha’u’llah. He died in 1893 after 40 years of exile and imprisonment for his beliefs.

Years in the Bahá'í calendar are counted from Thursday, March 21, 1844, the beginning of the Bahá'í Era (abbreviated BE).Year 1 BE thus began at sundown March 20, 1844. It is annually celebrated by members of the Bahá'í Faith as the Bahá'í New Year or Náw-Rúz.

Iranian teenager Mona Mahmudnizhad along with nine other women were hanged because of their membership in the Bahá'í Faith on June 18, 1983. The official charges ranged from “misleading children and youth” because she was teaching children who had been expelled from school for their beliefs and serving in an orphanage, to being a "Zionist" because the Bahá'í World Centre is located in Israel.

Mona Mahmudnizhad

The message of Baha’u’llah, in essence, was that all great religious leaders are manifestations of the unknowable God and all scriptures are sacred.

There is no priesthood: all Baha'is are expected to teach, and to work towards world unification. Administration is carried out by an elected body, the Universal House of Justice.  Any male Bahá'í, 21 years or older, is eligible to be elected to the Universal House of Justice; all other positions are open to male and female Bahá'ís.

Baha'is are expected to pray daily, but there is no set prayer. During 2–20 March, adults under 70 fast from sunrise to sunset.

Baha'i temple

The World Christian Encyclopedia estimated 7.1 million Bahá'ís in the world in 2000, representing 218 countries.

The Bahá'í religion was ranked by the FP magazine as the world's second fastest growing religion by percentage (1.7%) in 2007.

Source Hutchinson Encyclopedia RM 2012. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

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