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Questions & Answers

On this page you will find a reprint of Bahá’í Faith Q/A's from 'bahai.org/faq'.
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Facts and Figures



Community Life

Social Action

Facts and Figures

What do Baha’is believe?

Bahá’ís believe that there is one God, that all humanity is one family, and that there is a fundamental unity underlying religion. They recognize that the coming of Bahá'u'lláh has opened the age for the establishment of world peace, when, as anticipated in the sacred scriptures of the past, all humanity will achieve its spiritual and social maturity, and live as one united family in a just, global society. (Back Top)

Who is Bahá’u’lláh?

Bahá’u’lláh is recognized by millions throughout the world as the Messenger of God for this age. The Bahá’í Faith is founded on His teachings. Born in 1817 to a prominent family in Iran, He showed from childhood an unusual intellectual precocity, although unschooled in the kind of learning prevalent in 19th century Iran; He demonstrated, too, a particular devotion to relief of the condition of the poor. His given name was Mírza Husayn ‘Alí, but He identified Himself as Bahá’u’lláh, which means “Glory of God,” a title by which He was addressed by His Forerunner, the Báb. Because of His teachings, He was banished into an exile, eventually lasting forty years, that took Him to the Holy Land. It was there that He passed away in 1892. (Back Top)

What is the Bahá’í Faith?

The Bahá’í Faith, founded by Bahá'u'lláh, represents essentially the renewal of religion with teachings relevant to contemporary needs and the requirements of humanity’s collective future. It rests on a broad base of sacred scriptures that both nourish the soul and provide laws and principles of social interaction. (Back Top)

What are some basic teachings of the Bahá’í Faith?

While restating basic spiritual teachings brought by all the Messengers of God, the Bahá’í Faith brings new social principles appropriate to the needs of a global society, such as the oneness of mankind, the equality of rights and opportunities for men and women, the abolition of all forms of prejudice, the essential harmony of science and religion, universal education, the need for a universal auxiliary language, and the elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth. (Back Top)

Who is the Báb?

Bahá’ís believe that the Báb (1819-1850) was an independent Messenger of God, whose mission was to inaugurate a new cycle in humanity’s spiritual development. His writings prepared the way for the mission of Bahá’u’lláh. The Báb was executed in 1850 at the instance of Islamic clergy who felt their position threatened by the principles He taught. (Back Top)

Where and when did the Bahá’í Faith originate?

The Bahá’í Faith was inaugurated in 1863 when Bahá’u’lláh announced His mission in Baghdad, during the early stage of His exile from Iran. (Back Top)

How many Bahá’ís are there?

There are currently more than five million Bahá’ís resident in some 100,000 localities in every part of the world. The Faith is recognized as the second-most geographically widespread religion after Christianity. (Back Top)

Does the Bahá’í Faith have an international center?

The Bahá’í World Centre is established in the Haifa/’Akká area of Israel, the location of Bahá’u’lláh’s exile in 1868 and His death in 1892. The area is today the site of the Faith’s most sacred shrines—the resting places of Bahá’u’lláh and His Forerunner, the Báb—and the seat of the Faith’s international governing body. (Back Top)

Who is the head of the Bahá’í Faith?

Bahá’u’lláh called for the creation of a system of democratically elected councils at the local, national and international levels. The Head of the Faith is the Universal House of Justice, the nine-person international council elected by secret ballot by the members of all the national councils. (Back Top)

What holidays do Bahá’ís observe?

Bahá’ís observe eleven holy days each year. These include days associated with the lives of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb, as well as the Bahá’í new year, on March 21. The most important of the other holidays is Ridván, a twelve-day period in April/May that commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s declaration of His mission. The holy days are commemorated with community gatherings for prayer, reflection, and fellowship. On nine of these holy days, Bahá’ís abstain from work. (Back Top)


Do the Bahá’ís have a holy book?

The Most Holy Book of the Bahá'í Faith is the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the book of laws written by Bahá’u’lláh. It is part of a large body of scriptures authored by Him. Comprising an estimated 100 volumes, these writings cover topics of a wide range, including laws and principles for personal conduct and the governance of society, as well as mystical writings dealing with the progress of the soul and its journey towards God. The many writings of the Báb and those of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are also a sacred source of reference for Bahá’ís. Moreover, Bahá’ís recognize the Bible, the Qur’an, and the holy texts of the world’s other revealed religions. (Back Top)

What do Bahá'ís believe about God?

God is the ultimate Reality, Creator of the universe, Whose nature is unknowable and inaccessible to humankind. Such designations as God, Allah, Yahweh, Brahma all refer to the One Divine Being. We learn about God through His Messengers, Who teach and guide humanity. (Back Top)

What is the purpose of religion?

Through Divine Messengers, God has revealed His laws and teachings for humanity in order that the individual soul can draw near to Him and society can advance spiritually and materially. Throughout history, the revelations of the Messengers of God have renewed religion so that humanity can come to understand its true purpose. (Back Top)

Is there just one true religion?

All world religions are in essence stages in the ongoing revelation of the one religion. They come from the same Source and have the same essential purpose—to guide and educate the human race. Their spiritual core is one, but they differ in their secondary aspects such as in their social teachings, which change in relation to humanity’s evolving requirements. (Back Top)

How does God reveal Himself to humanity?

Throughout history, God has revealed Himself through a succession of Divine Messengers, Whose teachings—moral, spiritual, and social—have renewed man’s relationship to God and provided the basis for the advancement of human society. Among them have been Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb, and Bahá'u'lláh, as well as other Teachers whose names have been lost or obscured over time,. This succession reflects God’s plan for educating humanity, which will continue indefinitely. Bahá’u’lláh is the most recent Divine Messenger. (Back Top)

What is the relationship of the Bahá’í Faith to Islam?

The Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh, was born into a Muslim family and society. Thus, in much the same way as Christianity grew out of Judaism, or Buddhism out of Hinduism, the Bahá’í Faith emerged from an Islamic context. However, like them, the Bahá’í Faith is an independent religion with its own laws, teachings, and institutions. (Back Top)

Do we have souls?

The essential identity of each person is a rational and immortal soul. Although our existence on earth depends on our physical bodies, human nature is fundamentally spiritual. (Back Top)

How do Bahá'ís pray?

People commune with God through prayer and receive guidance through study of the Word of God. The Bahá'í writings contain prayers for a wide range of purposes and occasions in addition to certain daily obligatory prayers. Moreover, Bahá'ís believe that work performed in a spirit of service is worship. Thus, together with active service, fasting, meditation, and obedience to spiritual and moral laws, prayer enables us to develop and grow closer to God. (Back Top)

What is the purpose of life?

The purpose of human existence is fundamentally spiritual: to develop our spiritual and intellectual potentiality by coming to know and worship God and thus contribute to an ever advancing civilization. (Back Top)

Do Bahá’ís believe in Heaven and Hell?

For Bahá’ís, the concepts of Heaven and Hell are allegories for nearness and remoteness from God. When we die, the condition of our souls determines our experience of the afterlife. Heaven and Hell are not physical places, but spiritual realities. (Back Top)

What happens when I die?

After its separation from the physical body, the soul enters into a spiritual realm of existence in which it draws ever closer to God. Its progress depends on the preparation it made on this earthly plane in response to the teachings of God’s Messengers.
(Back Top)


How do Bahá’ís spread their beliefs?

Bahá’u’lláh has stated that each Bahá’í has the duty to share the Faith with others but forbids the practice of proselytism. Thus, no pressure must be put on anyone to accept it, since independent investigation of truth is a fundamental right and responsibility of each individual. (Back Top)

How do I become a Bahá’í?

A person becomes a Bahá’í by recognizing Bahá’u’lláh as the Messenger of God for this age and accepting to follow His laws and teachings and the administrative institutions He established for the unification of humankind. People enroll in a Bahá’í community by signifying such belief and commitment, orally or in writing, to the responsible Bahá'í institution. (Back Top)

Do Bahá’ís observe any dietary restrictions?

Although there are no dietary restrictions in the Bahá’í Faith, the consumption of alcoholic beverages and the use of narcotic and hallucinogenic drugs is prohibited.
(Back Top)

Are Bahá’ís required to tithe a portion of their income?

As an element of their life of service, Bahá’ís contribute regularly to the funds that support the work of the Faith in accordance with their means. This is a spiritual duty and a matter of individual conscience, without coercion or overview by the community.
(Back Top)

What are the laws in the Bahá’í Faith?

The Bahá'í teachings include laws and prescriptions for the spiritual and moral life of the individual and for the governance and development of society. The laws for one’s personal life include, among others, daily prayer, observance of a period of fasting, the education of children, abstention from partisan politics, and the obligation to engage in a trade or profession. Other moral and ethical principles include prohibitions against backbiting, extramarital sex, gambling, and the nonmedical use of alcohol or drugs. Furthermore, Bahá'u'lláh delineated principles and institutions designed to set a pattern for the effective functioning of a unified society and the material well-being of the world’s peoples. (Back Top)

What is the Bahá’í attitude towards homosexuality?

Bahá’í law limits permissible sexual relations to those between a man and a woman in marriage. Believers are expected to abstain from sex outside matrimony. Bahá’ís do not, however, attempt to impose their moral standards on those who have not accepted the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. While requiring uprightness in all matters of morality, whether sexual or otherwise, the Bahá’í teachings also take account of human frailty and call for tolerance and understanding in regard to human failings. In this context, to regard homosexuals with prejudice would be contrary to the spirit of the Bahá’í teachings.
(Back Top)

Community Life

Are there Bahá’í activities in which I can participate?

Bahá'ís have regular meetings for worship and social and educational activities for children, youth, and adults, open to all. Bahá’ís gather in study circles to explore in a participatory manner Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings. There are also activities for service, observances of Bahá’í holy days and other events to which all are welcome. Informal gatherings, sometimes referred to as “fireside meetings,” provide an open setting for asking questions and learning more about the Faith for oneself. (Back Top)

How is the Bahá’í community organized?

The Bahá’í community’s collective life is administered by nine-member consultative councils that are democratically elected, without nomination or electioneering, at the local, national and international levels. These are Local Spiritual Assemblies, National Spiritual Assemblies, and the Universal House of Justice. Additionally, appointed advisors assist and counsel local and national communities and institutions in their development. There is no clergy in the Bahá’í Faith. Local Bahá’í communities meet every 19 days for a “Feast,” a gathering that includes consultation on community activities as well as devotional and social portions. (Back Top)

How do Bahá’ís worship?

Bahá’ís worship God through prayer and meditation, by participating in devotional gatherings, and through active service to their communities. They individually recite one of three obligatory prayers each day as prescribed by Bahá’u’lláh. The Bahá’í scriptures offer much guidance on the uses of prayer and contain many prayers for various purposes and occasions. Moreover, work performed in the spirit of service is, according to the Bahá’í teachings, a form of worshipping God. (Back Top)

How do the Bahá’ís relate to other religions?

Bahá’u’lláh called upon the Bahá’ís to associate with the followers of all religions in a spirit of love and friendship. Bahá’ís see no intrinsic conflict with other religious communities, as they believe all the revealed faiths originate from the same Source, God, and are essentially one. (Back Top)

Where does money come from for Bahá’í activities and projects?

All activities of the Bahá’í community are supported by the voluntary contributions of individual believers. Bahá’ís neither seek nor accept funds from others for activities that relate to the internal development of the Bahá’í community. Funds from private, national, or international agencies are sometimes received for social and humanitarian initiatives, such as schools and agricultural projects that are designed to serve the community at large. (Back Top)

What is the role of the individual in the Bahá’í Faith?

The work of the Faith proceeds in three interactive and complementary spheres of activity: individual, community, and institutional. The role of the individual is accorded basic significance because the success of the community depends ultimately on the individual’s response to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. This role is expressed principally both in the initiatives taken by the individual to acquaint others with the Faith and in efforts to assist in building a united, functioning community. (Back Top)

What is the Bahá'í view of marriage and family?

The family is the basic unit of social life, and the progress of society depends on soundly functioning families. Monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is the foundation of family life. Bahá’u’lláh described matrimony as “a fortress for well-being and salvation” and identified the rearing of children as the fundamental, though not the only, purpose of marriage. (Back Top)

Are there any sects or branches of the Bahá’í Faith?

The Bahá’í Faith is protected from division by a Covenant established by Bahá’u’lláh. Instituted to preserve the unity of His followers and prevent schism after His passing, the Covenant calls on all Bahá’ís to turn for guidance to His eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the appointed interpreter of His teachings, then to Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Faith until his passing in 1957, and subsequently to the Universal House of Justice, the elected international council. Those who do not, or cease to, observe these provisions of the Covenant cannot legitimately claim to be Bahá’ís. Despite efforts by individuals to divert authority to themselves, the Bahá'í community is a single, organically united body, free of schisms or factions. (Back Top)

Do Bahá’ís have places of worship?

Bahá’u’lláh called for temples of great beauty to be built eventually in every locality where Bahá’ís reside, each to be surrounded by institutions of social service. To date, seven have been built, at least one on each continent. While their architectural styles differ, they share certain features, such as nine entrances on nine sides, and are set in magnificent gardens (nine being the highest digit symbolizes completeness or unity). These temples are places for personal prayer and meditation, as well as collective worship, where sacred scriptures are recited and sung. (Back Top)

Social Action

What kinds of activities are Bahá’ís involved in for the benefit of others?

The life of a Bahá'í is dedicated to personal and social transformation. Bahá'u'lláh explained that transformation is the true purpose of religion, and He described the personal and social processes as essentially interactive and complementary. Consequently, Bahá'ís are committed to building the capacity of individuals and to learning, through community-based efforts, how better to effect change and improve society. The empowerment of individuals and the fostering of their initiative are thus basic elements of social and economic development processes in fields such as education, agriculture, and health improvement. These efforts are animated by Bahá’u’lláh’s call for the unity of humankind, the fundamental objectives of which include eliminating racial and other forms of prejudice, promulgating the equality of the sexes, adopting a universal standard of human rights, ensuring education for all, recognizing the harmony between religion and science, choosing an international auxiliary language, and establishing a world government. Bahá’ís join others in such endeavors, creating and cooperating with relevant nongovernmental organizations, including at the United Nations where the Bahá’í International Community is an active nongovernmental organization. (Back Top)

What is the vision for the future?

Bahá’ís’ vision of the future derives from a fundamental understanding that human beings have been created to “carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.” This advancement is impelled by the coming of the Messengers of God from age to age. Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed that the time has arrived for humanity in all its diversity to realize its potential to live as one united people, empowered through His Revelation to establish a world civilization based on justice and peace. (Back Top)

How do Bahá’ís relate to politics?

Bahá’ís take their civic responsibilities seriously and uphold the authority of established governments through loyalty and obedience to the laws of their country. While participating in elections for their government, they abstain from partisanship, and so do not join political parties or factions. Bahá’ís may serve their government in administrative posts but do not accept political appointments or run for elected office. Such service reflects the practice within the Bahá’í community, which holds elections for its administrative councils that are entirely without nominations or campaigning. (Back Top)

Do Bahá’ís suffer persecution?

The earliest followers of Bahá’u’lláh and of His Forerunner, the Báb, met brutal opposition incited by the clergy and were killed in the thousands. Today, the Bahá’í Faith still suffers severe repression in Iran, the land of its birth, and in several other Muslim countries. The 300,000 Bahá’ís in Iran constitute its largest religious minority, and in recent years many have been killed, imprisoned, and deprived of employment and education solely because of their religious beliefs. Bahá’ís have also been persecuted under fascist and communist regimes. (Back Top)

What is the source of problems in today’s world?

Bahá’ís see, in the accelerating turmoil unsettling every department of life, the operation of two simultaneous processes: namely, the death pangs of an old order no longer capable of meeting the requirements of present-day society and the birth pangs of a new order as indicated by the trend towards global cooperation—a trend gathering momentum from a flood of new knowledge and rapid advances in the fields of science, technology, and the arts, which have made of the world an accessible neighborhood. It is evident that a regenerating force is at work throughout the planet, but humanity as a whole has not yet recognized the reality of it as explained by Bahá’u’lláh. This lack of recognition prolongs, and delays the solutions for, the problems of our time. (Back Top)

What is the Bahá’í position on the status of women?

The Bahá’í writings clearly indicate that, from the spiritual point of view, there is no difference between women and men and no basis—moral, biological, or social—for discrimination on grounds of gender. Consequently, an essential equality of rights and opportunities between the two is upheld and promoted. (Back Top)

How do Bahá’ís view the environmental crisis?

Bahá’ís see the environmental crisis as one of a number of issues requiring a profound change in human behavior. They believe that humanity is in a turbulent period of transition towards a unified global society. Humanity will be able to live in harmony with the natural environment when its spiritual and material potentials are given balanced attention. (Back Top)

What is the Bahá’í view of human rights?

Human rights are the birthright of every person and must be applied to all according to a universal standard. For Bahá’ís these rights derive from the emphasis in Bahá’u’lláh’s writings on justice for a world society dedicated to achieving the unity of the human race by recognizing the indispensability of equal rights for all. At the individual level these rights are reinforced by the Bahá’í teaching that one should be fair to one’s self and to others. (Back Top)

What is the Bahá’í attitude toward poverty?

Bahá’u’lláh taught that extremes of wealth and poverty are not conducive to a just society and must be eliminated. Bahá’ís understand that with the development of a proper culture of work as service to humankind, supported by such means as just governance and universal education, the problem of poverty will be resolved. (Back Top)

What is the Bahá’í concept of work?

Bahá’ís believe that work performed in the spirit of service to humanity is a form of worship. All Bahá’ís are enjoined to engage in trades, crafts, or professions to earn livelihoods and serve their community. (Back Top)

What is the Bahá’í attitude towards science and technological progress?

Bahá’ís view science and religion as two complementary systems of knowledge, which throughout history have been the most powerful instruments for the investigation of reality and the advancement of civilization. Bahá’ís see the harmonious interaction of science and religion, each operating within its proper sphere, as one of the prerequisites for the establishment of a peaceful and just society.