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Central Figures of the Bahá'í Faith


The Bahá’í Faith has three central figures most closely associated with its birth and establishment:

  • Bahá’u’lláh
  • The Báb
  • ‘Abdu’l-Bahá'

Baha’u’llah (1817 – 1892), meaning the Glory of God, is the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith and the One Who is the Manifestation of God for this age. He was preceded by the Bab, and claimed to be the latest, but not the last of the Messengers of God. Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed His revelation publicly in 1863, in Baghdad, and His writings are regarded as the latest revelation of the Word of God to humanity. During the more than 40 years of His imprisonment, exile, and persecution, Bahá’u’lláh’s Message of peace, unity of humankind, justice, and the personal and social requirements of global society in the future, written and transcribed in more than 100 volumes of books and tablets, had attracted a rapidly expanding community of followers globally.

The Báb (1819-1850), an Arabic word meaning the Gate, was the herald of the Bahá’í Faith. The Báb, also, was a Manifestation of God, Whose special mission was to prepare mankind for the coming of Bahá’u’lláh. He was to Bahá’u’lláh much like John the Baptist was to Christ. He declared His mission in 1844 in Iran, in which,He announced the inauguration of a new era in human history. As a result of His message, which urged religious and social reforms and aroused enormous interest throughout Persia, He suffered persecution and imprisonment for over six years and, in 1850, He was executed. Over 20,000 of His followers were also killed for their beliefs.

So great is this Day, that it has been blessed by the appearance of two Manifestations of God in quick succession.

The third, of the central figures of the Bahá’í Faith, is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844–1921), meaning servant of the Glory, and the eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was appointed by Bahá’u’lláh as the leader of the Bahá’í community,and as the sole authorized interpreter of His writings.
Though not a Prophet or Messenger of God, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is revered by Bahá’ís as the perfect Exemplar of the Bahá’í teachings. He lived an exemplary life and travelled to Europe, the United States, and Canada in 1911-1912 to promote His Father’s teachings.

Other than the above three central figures, in the Bahá’í Faith, one historical figure of enormous significance to Bahá’ís is Shoghi Effendi (1897 – 1957), Guardian of the Baha’i Faith. He was the eldest grandson of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the leader of the Bahá’í community from 1921 until his passing in 1957. After the passing of Abdu’l-Bahá, the leadership of the Baha’i community entered a new phase, evolving from that of single individuals to collegial leadership, founded on  the “twin pillars” of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice.

The Universal House of Justice (1963 – present), the international governing body of the Bahá’í Faith, “is under the care and protection of Bahá’u’lláh.,… Its decisions are divinely inspired”, and “free from all error”.Even after His passing, Bahá’u’lláh is able to guide His followers through the supreme body of His Administrative Order. The Universal House ofJustice has many responsibilities, among them;directs the spiritual and administrative affairs of the Baha’i International Community and advises National Spiritual Assemblies. It protects the spiritual inheritance bequeathed to it by promoting “the attainment of those spiritual qualities which should characterize Baha’i life individually and collectively”; preserving the Baha’i Sacred Texts and safeguarding their “inviolability”; defending and protecting the Baha’i community and emancipating it from the “fetters of repression and persecution”; preserving and developing the world spiritual and administrative center of the Baha’i Faith; and safeguarding “the personal rights, freedom and initiative of individuals.”




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