Baha'i Faith emphasizes the oneness of humanity
Leader of the Babi movement, the Bab (Persian for "gate") claimed he was a prophet expected by certain sects of Islam. He also predicted the coming of another prophet after him.
Shi'ite Muslim religious authorities in what is now Iran executed the Bab in 1850 and imprisoned some of his followers, including Baha'u'llah.
While held captive in what is known as the "black pit," Baha'u'llah, the son of a wealthy government minister, had what he claimed to be a vision of God's will for humanity. After being released months later, Baha'u'llah was banished from Teheran, and remained in exile for 40 years.
He announced in 1863 that he was the one whose coming the Bab prophesied.
During his exile, Baha'u'llah wrote thousands of letters, tablets and books that outline a framework for the reconstruction of society on spiritual, moral, economic, political and philosophical plains. Some of those works are still being translated into English today.
The most basic Baha'i belief states that humanity evolves the same as an individual grows, and that God's plans have been revealed through messengers over time, with each message being relevant to the cultural and historical context in which it was revealed.
In this progressive revelation, Baha'is believe Baha'u'llah to be the most recent in a long line of messengers, which includes Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus Christ and Muhammad.
The basic principles emphasized by Baha'i are the oneness of humanity, the equality of men and women, the elimination of prejudice and extremes of wealth and poverty, the independent investigation of truth, universal education, religious tolerance, the harmony of science and religion, a world commonwealth of nations and a universal auxiliary language.
The Baha'i moral code forbids killing, stealing, lying, adultery and promiscuity, gambling, alcoholic drinks, drug abuse and gossip. Baha'is also abstain from partisan politics, believing that such practices create disunity within the group.
©Copyright 2002, Peoria Journal Star