Bahai News - Baha'i
Source: The Herald - Glasgow
The Ridvan festival, which begins tomorrow and commemorates the 12-day
period in 1863 when Husayn Ali proclaimed himself the new messenger of God,
is celebrated by his followers, the Baha'is.
Q: Who was he?
A: A member of one of the great patrician families of Persia who was
banished to Baghdad for spreading the word of the Bab, the forerunner of the
Baha'i religion. The Bab (Mirza Ali Muhammad) was executed for his beliefs.
Husayn Ali, who styled himself Baha Ullah (Arabic for "Glory of God"), was
also persecuted, a fate that has befallen Baha'is in parts of the world ever
Q: What did he believe?
A: That each of the great religions of the world brought by the messengers
of God (Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus, and Muhammad) represented a
successive stage in the spiritual development of civilisation. He believed he
was the most recent messenger in the line. He called on nineteenth-century
rulers to lay down their arms, reconcile their differences and devote
themselves to universal peace.
Q: What happened to him?
A: He died in 1892. His eldest son, Abd ol-Baha, interpreted his teachings
and spread the Baha'i faith to Europe and beyond. Shoghi Effendi Rabbani,
who translated many Baha'i writings into English, was the guardian of the
faith until his death in 1957. The Baha'i holy family died out with him.
Now there are nine governors who are elected community leaders from around
Q: What do Baha'is believe?
A: They want to establish a universal faith and a common humanity and are
devoted to the abolition of racial, class, religious, and gender prejudice.
Baha Ullah said: "The Earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens."
Baha'is believe that God in his essence is unknowable. The religion has no
initiation ceremonies, no sacraments, and no clergy, but Baha'is are obliged
to pray, fast, abstain from drugs, and attend the Ridvan festival. They are
expected to stop working on the first, ninth, and last days of the 12-day
Q: Where are the religion's headquarters?
A: The Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel, is the home of the
Baha'i governing body.
Q: How many followers does it have?
A: Some 5,000,000 worldwide. They are said to come from more than 2000
ethnic, racial, and tribal groupings. They work for the establishment of
©Copyright 2001, The Herald - Glasgow
Page last updated/revised 042101
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