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World Religions: Baha’i

Use this primer with the lesson The World's Religions to teach about the diversity of faiths in the United States and around the globe.

Baha’i is a monotheistic religion (one that believes in a single god) founded by Siyyid Ali-Muhammad in 1844 and carried on by his followers. Although influenced by Islam, Baha’i is considered a separate faith.

Baha'is view such diverse figures as Abraham (of Judaism), Buddha (of Buddhism), Jesus (of Christianity) and Mohammad (of Islam) to be divine messengers sent to guide the world’s spiritual development. Baha’is emphasize unity among all of mankind and promote racial and gender equality, religious tolerance, environmental responsibility and improved economic status among those in need.

Some religious observances:

Naw-Ruz (Baha’i New Year)

Time of Year: March. Naw-Ruz marks the end of a 19-day fast (when people avoid eating during certain hours) and is a celebration of the coming spring, as well as a time of spiritual renewal. It is a popular time for sending out greeting cards, visiting others’ homes and enjoying communal meals.

Baha’is in Iran often prepare haft-sins (Haft Seens), displays of seven traditional items that start with the letter "s" (e.g., sib [apples]) and that symbolize health, wealth and other positive outcomes. Followers of the Zoroastrian faith (most often living in Iran or India) also celebrate Naw-Ruz, although they have their own unique practices.

See images of Haft Seens here and here.


Time of Year: April through May. This 12-day festival celebrates the 1863 revelation of Baha'u'llah (a key Baha’i religious leader) that he was the next Manifestation of God. Ridvan also marks the beginning of Baha'u'llah's exile from Baghdad, which he compared with the exile of Islam's Mohammad from Mecca. Baha’is typically observe by suspending work and holding community prayer gatherings on the first, ninth and twelfth days of the festival.


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Article by Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor
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