The Bahá’í faith, dating from 1844, is the most recent of the world’s monotheistic religions. The faith’s founder, Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), an Iranian nobleman whose name translates as “the Glory of God”, spent much of his life in exile. He stated that the time had come for the people of the world to put aside their differences and to unite on the basis of the teachings that he had brought.
In the brief course of its 150-year history, the Baha’i Faith has transformed itself from being a small group in Persia into a fast-growing religion that has established itself in every country of the world and is rapidly emerging to take its place alongside other established world religions.
The religion has grown and developed greatly in terms of its numerical strength, geographical spread, and community organisation. The largest Baha’i communities are now in South Asia, Africa, Latin America, and (relative to the size of the population) in some of the islands of the Pacific. In these parts of the world, some villages and areas are more or less completely Baha’i. Here the Baha’is have initiated educational, agricultural and community development projects. The latest available official Baha’i statistics (1994) state that there are between 5 and 6 million Baha’is in the world; that Baha’is live in over 110,000 localities; that there are over 17,000 places where there are organized Baha’i communities with elected local councils (Local Spiritual Assemblies); and 172 national elected bodies (National Spiritual Assemblies)
Bahá’ís believe that humanity is a single race with a common destiny. In the words of Bahá’u’lláh, the faith’s founder, “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
We desire but the good of the world and happiness of the nations…. That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled… Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the “Most Great Peace” shall come…. These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family…. Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind…. (words spoken by Baha’u’llah to Prof. E.G. Browne of Cambridge University in 1890)
For more detailed information on the Baha’i faith go to http://momen.org/bahai/index.htm also see www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/bahai/ or www.bahai.org
For local contacts see The Directory of Northamptonshire Faith Groups