The Baha’i Faith is the youngest of the world’s independent religions. In its comparatively short history of about 165 years the Baha’i Faith has grown to embrace adherents from more than 2112 ethnic, racial, and tribal groups. There are significant Baha’i communities in more than 188 independent countries and 45 dependent territories or overseas departments, prompting the 1992 Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year to tabulate the Baha’i Faith as the most geographically widespread independent religion after Christianity.
Representing a cross section of humanity, Baha’is come from virtually every nation, ethnic group, culture, profession and social or economic group. Any casual observer of our own local Baha’i community here in Singapore cannot but notice its striking multi-racial, multi-national and multi-lingual composition.
A Baha’i simply means a follower of Baha’u’llah (meaning “Glory of God”), the Prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith. Baha’u’llah (1817-1892) is regarded by Baha’is as the most recent in a line of Manifestations of God that stretches beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Christ and Muhammad.
The essential message of Baha’u’llah is that of unity. He taught that there is only one God, that there is only one human race, and that all the world’s religions have been stages in the revelation of God’s will and purpose for humanity. In this day, Baha’u’llah said, humanity has collectively come of age. As foretold in all of the world’s Scriptures, the time has arrived for the unity of the human race into a peaceful and integrated global society.
“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens,” Baha’u’llah wrote.
For such a global society to flourish, it must be built upon fundamental principles that include:
- accepting the oneness of humanity and the abandonment of all forms of prejudice
- recognizing the Divine origin and essential unity of the world’s great religions
- recognizing that true religion is in harmony with reason and the pursuit of scientific knowledge
- giving equal opportunities, rights and privileges to men and women
- eliminating extremes of wealth and poverty
- seeking solutions to economic problems by taking into account man’s spiritual nature
- enforcing compulsory universal education
- adopting an international auxiliary language
- emphasizing the independent search for truth, free from prejudices
ensuring a sustainable balance between development and the environment
- establishing a world federation based on collective security and justice for all
The well-being of mankind, its peace and security,
are unattainable unless and until its unity is
– Baha’u’llah –