Baha'i

A religious movement founded in Iran by Baham'u'llamh. Its origins are to be found in Shi'a Islam, and in the group of disciples of Sayyid Alix Muhammed, or “the Bamb” (1819-50), who is now regarded by Baham'ixs as the forerunner of the Prophet. Baham'u'llamh (1817-92) was a disciple of the Bamb, though he had never met him. After the latter's death, the former had a mystical experience in prison (1852), which he interpreted as a divine call. He was exiled to Baghdad, but gathered followers and eventually proclaimed himself as God's manifestation to the present age, not only to his disciples, but to many world rulers. Until 1957 leadership of the movement remained within the Prophet's family, though in the meantime his teachings had spread to many parts of the world.

The main teaching of the Baham'ix faith is that it is the crown and culmination of all the religions of the world, which it does not seek to overthrow, but to fulfill. Baham'ix temples contain no accepted religious symbols; they are domed, circular, and have nine doors, representing the existing traditions (there are only four such temples, in Evanston, Illinois; Frankfurt, Germany; Sydney, Australia; and Kampala, Uganda). The movement's principles may be summarized thus: (1) the unity of mankind; (2) the duty of each individual to seek for truth independently; (3) equality between the sexes; (4) the essential unity of all religions; (5) science and religion are not contradictory; (6) religion must be the source of love and unity; (7) all prejudice should be abolished; (8) universal education; (9) the solving of economic problems; (10) the encouragement of international language; (11) peace; and (12) the setting up of an international court of justice.

There are followers of Baham'ix in most parts of the world, though their numbers are relatively small.

See Dictionary of Comparative Religion (1970), s.v. Bambixs, Baham'ixs.