Bahá’í in the World (text)
1819 - 1850 CE The Báb
Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad, who was later conferred the title the Báb (the Gate), was born in 1819. In 1844 in Shiraz, Persia (now Iran), after a prophetic dream, Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad proclaimed Himself to be a Manifestation of God, following the previous revealers of the world’s great religions such as Buddha, Jesus Christ, and Muhammad. In addition to founding an independent religion, He was the forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh and prophesied that the Promised One of the ages would soon appear. In 1850 in Tabriz, Persia, the Báb was executed for His beliefs. Many of the adherents to this new religion were persecuted and over 20,000 were martyred.
1817 - 1892 CE Bahá’u’lláh’s Ministry
Mírzá Husayn-'Alí of Núr, later to be known as Bahá’u’lláh (the Glory of God), was born in 1819 in Tehran, Persia. He was one of the Báb’s early followers, and suffered many persecutions. In 1852, while imprisoned, Mírzá Husayn-`Alí announced that He received a direct vision from God which revealed that He was the One anticipated by the Báb. He then was bestowed the title of Bahá’u’lláh, and the religion was thereafter known as the Bahá'í Faith.
Bahá’u’lláh wrote over one hundred sacred books during His ministry, including The Kitáb-i-Aqdas (the “Most Holy Book”),The Hidden Words, The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, The Book of Certitude, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, and Prayers and Meditations.
1868 CE Bahá’u’lláh Exiled to ‘Akká
Persian and Ottoman Empire authorities successively banished Baha’u’llah from Tehran to Baghdad, to Constantinople, and to Adrianople with the hopes of extinguishing the new faith. Bahá’u’lláh was finally exiled to the penal colony of ‘Akká in the Holy Land in a final and futile attempt to halt the growing religion. He arrived there in 1868 with about 70 family members and followers. Bahá’u’lláh ascended in 1892. In spite of and as a result of the many ongoing persecutions of Bahá’u’lláh and His family and followers, the Bahá'í Faith grew exponentially.
1844-1921 CE ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
After Bahá’u’lláh’s ascension in 1892, His eldest son, `Abbás Effendi—known as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Servant of Glory)—was appointed by His Father as successor of the Bahá’í Faith. He was renowned for His compassion, His works for the poor and the disenfranchised, His promulgation of the Faith, and His station as authorized interpreter of the Bahá'í writings. Though imprisoned and persecuted for most of His life, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá travelled in His later years to Europe and North America to introduce the new religion to the Western world and to encourage the Bahá’ís in North America. He wrote numerous prayers and several major works, including The Secret of Divine Civilization, Memorials of the Faithful and His Will and Testament, widely recognized as the charter document for the new world order of Bahá’u’lláh. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ascended from this world in 1921 and designated His eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi, as His successor.
1897-1957 CE Shoghi Effendi
Following the death of His grandfather, Shoghi Effendi was appointed Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith. Throughout his life, he was committed to sharing the Bahá'í Faith globally. Shoghi Effendi translated numerous major works of the Central Figures of the Bahá'í Faith and translated a groundbreaking history of the Báb’s Faith entitled The Dawn-Breakers. Shoghi Effendi authored a comprehensive history of the Bahá'í Faith entitled God Passes By and wrote over 30,000 pieces of correspondence to Bahá'ís worldwide on a vast variety of subjects. Shoghi Effendi passed away peacefully in London, England, in 1957.
1950s CE The Bahá'í Faith Spreads Globally
Shoghi Effendi was instrumental in establishing the worldwide administrative order of the Bahá'í Faith. He began to promulgate the Bahá'í Faith throughout the world, and in 1951 he appointed the first International Bahá'í Council, the predecessor organization of the Universal House of Justice.
1893 CE Bahá'í at the World's Parliament of Religions
The Bahá'í Faith was introduced for the first time in America at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago.
1901 CE First House of Worship in Russia
Construction began on the first Bahá'í House of Worship in ‘Ishqábád, Russia (now Turkmenistan).
1953 CE Shrine of the Báb
The construction of the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa, Israel was completed.
1963 CE The First Bahá'í World Congress and the Universal House of Justice
In 1963, the first Bahá'í World Congress took place in London. The first Universal House of Justice, the Supreme Institution of the Bahá'í administrative order, was elected by representatives from 56 National Spiritual Assemblies, which are the highest Bahá'í institutions in each individual country.
1985 CE "The Promise of World Peace"
The Universal House of Justice issued the statement, “The Promise of World Peace” which was distributed throughout the world.
1986 CE Indian Bahá'í House of Worship
The world-renowned Indian Bahá'í House of Worship, constructed in the shape of a nine-sided lotus flower, was dedicated just outside of New Delhi.
1992 CE Second Bahá'í World Congress
The second Bahá'í World Congress took place in order to pay homage to the 100th Anniversary of the passing of Baha’u’llah in New York City. Over 30,000 Bahá'ís representing over 180 countries and territories attended the event.
1996 CE Grassroots Community Development
The Bahá'í community adopted a systematic approach to grassroots community development that was taking place in Bahá’í communities all over the world. This approach was centered around four core activities: study circles, children’s classes, junior youth groups, and devotional meetings.
2008 CE Bahá’í Regional Conferences
The Universal House of Justice convened 41 regional conferences throughout the world. These conferences marked the midway point of a five-year effort to expand Bahá’í activities at the grassroots level.
The global Bahá'í community today has more than seven million members. There are local Bahá'í communities in more than 230 countries and territories, and elected national administrations in 182 countries — making the Bahá'í Faith the second most geographically widespread religious community in the world. Bahá'ís today represent over 2,000 ethnic identities. Though the Bahá'í Faith is among the youngest of the world’s religious traditions, it is among the most diverse.
Baha’i Houses of Worship (or temples as they are often called) are places of prayer and reflection built by Bahá'ís, but are open to and welcome people of all faiths, religions, and beliefs. There are currently eight continental Bahá'í Houses of Worship, located in Wilmette, USA; Kampala, Uganda; Sydney, Australia; Langenhain, Germany; Panama City, Panama; Apia, Western Samoa; New Delhi, India; and Santiago, Chile.
Bahá’í in America (text)
1893 CE The Bahá'í Faith Introduced to the U.S.
The Bahá'í Faith was first introduced to the U.S. at the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago.
1894 CE Thornton Chase
Thornton Chase, the first Bahá'í in the United States, declared his belief in Bahá’u’lláh in 1894.
1907 CE U.S. Bahá'í Communities
In 1907, the Chicago Bahá'í Assembly became the first local Bahá'í community in the world to gain legal status. The American Bahá'í community purchased land on the shores of Lake Michigan for the House of Worship and began planning its construction.
1912 CE ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Travels to North America
‘Abdu’l-Bahá travelled to the U.S. and Canada, promulgating His Father’s teachings and visiting numerous cities and towns.
1925 CE First National Spiritual Assembly of U.S. and Canada
The first National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada was established.
1926 CE U.S./Canada National Spiritual Assembly Incorporated
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the U.S. and Canada was incorporated in 1926. Its charter document, the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws, ultimately served as a model for myriad National Spiritual Assemblies around the world.
1953 CE Wilmette Bahá'í House of Worship Dedicated
The Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois was dedicated for public worship.
1991 CE "The Vision of Race Unity"
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States issued its statement entitled “The Vision of Race Unity: America’s Most Challenging Issue” and distributed it widely to the public and government officials.
1996 CE Bahá'í Grassroots Community Development
The American Bahá'í community adopted a systematic approach to grassroots community development that was taking place in Bahá’í communities all over the world. This approach was centered around four core activities: study circles, children’s classes, junior youth groups, and devotional meetings.
2008 CE Universal House of Justice Conferences in the U.S.
The Universal House of Justice convened 41 regional conferences throughout the world, six of which were held in the United States. These conferences marked the midway point of a five-year effort to expand Bahá’í activities at the grassroots level.
2014 CE Bahá’ís Become the Second-Largest Religious Group in SC
Bahá’ís are identified as the second-largest religious group in South Carolina.
Present - The Bahá’í Faith in the U.S. Today
Today, there are approximately 180,000 Bahá’ís in the United States, with Local Spiritual Assemblies in every state. The Bahá'í community in the U.S. has committed itself to social issues including the abolition of racism and the achievement of world peace, and many of its activities focus on empowering youth and young adults to make positive changes in their local communities. The American Bahá'í community continues to strive towards uniting people of all racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds, including through an ever-evolving body of Bahá'í music, poetry, and literature on topical social issues. The Bahá'í Faith is as diverse within the United States as it is across the world, and continues to grow.
Selected Publications & Links
The first Bahá’í organization in Boston was founded in 1899. Over the past 100 years, the Baha’i community has expanded to include a dedicated religious center in the South End, several smaller groups throughout Greater Boston, and Bahá’í student clubs at local colleges and universities. The Bahá’í faith, guided by the writings of Baha’u’llah (1817-1892), centers on the unity and dignity of mankind across religious, social, ethnic, and geographic borders.