Bahá'í teachings represent a considerable number of theological,
social, and spiritual ideas that were established in the Bahá'í
Faith by Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the religion, and clarified by
successive leaders including `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh's son, and
Shoghi Effendi, `Abdu'l-Bahá's grandson. The teachings were written
in various Bahá'í writings. The teachings of the religion, combined
with the authentic teachings of several past religions, including
Islam and Christianity, are regarded by Bahá'ís as teachings
revealed by God.
Bahá'í teachings include theological statements about God, his
messengers, and humans, as well as social teachings including the
equality of all humans, regardless of gender, race and class, the
harmony of science of religion, compulsory education, and the
elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty, among others.
2.1 The oneness of God
2.2 The oneness of humanity
2.3 The oneness of religion
3 Progressive revelation
Religion as a school
4 Social principles
4.1 Equality of women and men
4.2 Harmony of religion and science
4.3 Universal compulsory education
4.4 Universal auxiliary language
4.5 Independent investigation of truth
4.6 Elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty
7 Mystical teachings
8 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
The most prominent and distinctive principles in the Bahá'í
teachings are love and unity, which are exemplified by the Golden
rule, and the many social principles.
Shoghi Effendi, the appointed head of the religion from 1921–1957,
wrote the following summary of what he considered to be the
distinguishing principles of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, which, he
said, together with the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas
constitute the bed-rock of the Bahá'í Faith:
The independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or
tradition; the oneness of the entire human race, the pivotal principle
and fundamental doctrine of the Faith; the basic unity of all
religions; the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether
religious, racial, class or national; the harmony which must exist
between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two
wings on which the bird of human kind is able to soar; the
introduction of compulsory education; the adoption of a universal
auxiliary language; the abolition of the extremes of wealth and
poverty; the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of
disputes between nations; the exaltation of work, performed in the
spirit of service, to the rank of worship; the glorification of
justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a
bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations; and the
establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal
of all mankind—these stand out as the essential elements [which
Three core assertions of the Bahá'í Faith, sometimes termed the
"three onenesses", are central in the teachings of the religion. They
are the Oneness of God, the Oneness of
Religion and the Oneness of
Humanity. They are also referred to as the unity of God, unity of
religion, and unity of mankind. The Bahá'í writings state that there
is a single, all-powerful god, revealing his message through a series
of divine messengers or educators, regarding them as one progressively
revealed religion, to one single humanity, who all possess a rational
soul and only differ according to colour and culture. This idea is
fundamental not only to explaining Bahá'í beliefs, but explaining
the attitude Bahá'ís have towards other religions, which they regard
as divinely inspired. The acceptance of every race and culture in the
world has brought Bahá'í demographics diversity, becoming the second
most widespread faith in the world, and translating its literature
into over 800 languages.
The oneness of God
God in the Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í view of
God is essentially monotheistic.
God is the
imperishable, uncreated being who is the source of all
existence. He is described as "a personal God, unknowable,
inaccessible, the source of all Revelation, eternal, omniscient,
omnipresent and almighty". Though transcendent and inaccessible
directly, his image is reflected in his creation. The purpose of
creation is for the created to have the capacity to know and love its
In Baha'i belief, although human cultures and religions differ on
their conceptions of
God and his nature, the different references to
God nevertheless refer to one and the same Being. The differences,
instead of being regarded as irreconcilable constructs of mutually
exclusive cultures, are seen as purposefully reflective of the varying
needs of the societies in which the divine messages were revealed.
Bahá'í teachings state that
God is too great for humans to
create an accurate conception of. In the Bahá'í understanding, the
attributes attributed to God, such as All-Powerful and All-Loving are
derived from limited human experiences of power and love.
Bahá'u'lláh taught that the knowledge of
God is limited to those
attributes and qualities which are perceptible to us, and thus direct
God is not possible. Furthermore,
that knowledge of the attributes of
God is revealed to humanity
through his messengers.
As our knowledge of things, even of created and limited things, is
knowledge of their qualities and not of their essence, how is it
possible to comprehend in its essence the Divine Reality, which is
unlimited? ... Knowing God, therefore, means the comprehension and the
knowledge of His attributes, and not of His Reality. This knowledge of
the attributes is also proportioned to the capacity and power of man;
it is not absolute.
While the Bahá'í writings teach of a personal god who is a being
with a personality (including the capacity to reason and to feel
love), they clearly state that this does not imply a human or physical
Bahá'í teachings state that one can get closer to God
through prayer, meditation, study of the holy writings, and
The oneness of humanity
Bahá'í Faith and the unity of humanity
The Bahá'í writings teach that there is but one humanity and all
people are equal in the sight of God. The
Bahá'í Faith emphasizes
the unity of humanity transcending all divisions of race, nation,
gender, caste, and social class, while celebrating its diversity.
`Abdu'l-Bahá states that the unification of mankind has now become
"the paramount issue and question in the religious and political
conditions of the world." The Bahá'í writings affirm the
biological, political, and spiritual unity of mankind. Bahá'u'lláh
Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye
one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness
Regarding biological unity the Bahá'í writings state that
differences between various races, nations, and ethnic groups are
either superficial (e.g. skin colour) or the result of differences in
background or education. A basic Bahá'í teaching is the
elimination of all forms of prejudice, which refers to not only the
elimination of racial prejudice but also that of other forms of
prejudice such as gender discrimination.
Bahá'í teachings state that while ethnic and cultural diversity
will continue to exist, humanity's first allegiance will be with the
human race rather than any subsidiary group such as race, nation, or
ethnic group. There will be an end not only to war, but even to
While the Bahá'í writings talk about the unity of the world and its
peoples, unity is not equated to uniformity, but instead the Bahá'í
writings affirm the value of cultural, national and individual
diversity through the principle of "Unity in diversity," which states
that while recognizing the unity of mankind, cultural diversity should
be celebrated. Unity in diversity is commonly described in the
Bahá'í writings through the analogy of flowers of one garden, where
the different colours of the flowers add to the beauty of the
It [the Faith] does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the
diversity of ethnic origins, of climate, of history, of language and
tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and
nations of the world... Its watchword is unity in diversity...
The oneness of religion
unity of religion
Bahá'í Faith and the unity of religion
Bahá'í teachings state that there is but one religion which is
progressively revealed by God, through prophets/messengers, to mankind
as humanity matures and its capacity to understand also grows.
The outward differences in the religions, the Bahá'í writings state,
are due to the exigencies of the time and place the religion was
Bahá'u'lláh claimed to be the most recent, but not the
last, in a series of divine educators which include Jesus, Buddha,
Muhammad, and others.
The Bahá'í writings state that the essential nature of the
messengers is twofold: they are at once human and divine. They are
divine in that they all come from the same god and expound his
teachings, and thus they can be seen in the same light, but at the
same time they are separate individuals known by different names, who
fulfill definite missions and are entrusted with particular
Bahá'u'lláh in many places states that denying any
of the messengers of
God is equivalent to denying all of them, and God
himself. Regarding the relationships of these educators, which
Bahá'ís refer to as Manifestations of
God hath ordained the knowledge of these sanctified Beings to be
identical with the knowledge of His own Self. Whoso recognizeth them
hath recognized God. Whoso hearkeneth to their call, hath hearkened to
the Voice of God, and whoso testifieth to the truth of their
Revelation, hath testified to the truth of
God Himself. Whoso turneth
away from them, hath turned away from God, and whoso disbelieveth in
them, hath disbelieved in
God . . . They are the Manifestations of God
amidst men, the evidences of His Truth, and the signs of His
Main article: Progressive revelation
God to be generally regular and periodic in
revealing His will to mankind through messengers/prophets, which are
named Manifestations of God. Each messenger in turn establishes a
covenant and founds a religion. This process of revelation, according
to the Bahá'í writings, is also never ceasing, which is contrary
to many other belief systems that believe in a finality of their
prophet/messenger. The general theme of the successive and continuous
religions founded by Manifestations of
God is that there is an
evolutionary tendency, and that each Manifestation of
God brings a
larger measure of revelation (or religion) to humankind than the
previous one. The differences in the revelation brought by the
God is stated to be not inherent in the
characteristics of the Manifestation of God, but instead attributed to
the various worldly, societal and human factors; these differences
are in accordance with the "conditions" and "varying requirements of
the age" and the "spiritual capacity" of humanity. These
differences are seen to be needed since human society has slowly and
gradually evolved through higher stages of unification from the family
to tribes and then nations.
Thus religious truth is seen to be relative to its recipients and not
absolute; while the messengers proclaimed eternal moral and spiritual
truths that are renewed by each messenger, they also changed their
message to reflect the particular spiritual and material evolution of
humanity at the time of the appearance of the messenger. In the
Bahá'í view, since humanity's spiritual capacity and receptivity has
increased over time, the extent to which these spiritual truths are
Bahá'u'lláh explained that the appearance of successive messengers
was like the annual coming of Spring, which brings new life to the
world which has come to neglect the teachings of the previous
messenger. He also used an analogy of the world as the human body,
and revelation as a robe of "justice and wisdom".
Bahá'u'lláh mentioned in the
God will renew the
"City of God" about every thousand years, and specifically mentioned
that a new Manifestation of
God would not appear within 1000 years of
Religion as a school
The earliest forms of religion are seen, in many of the Bahá'í
Writings, to be like early school. In this view humanity, like a
child, has been maturing with a greater ability to grasp complex ideas
as it grows in years and passes school. Each time a divine messenger
appear, the message was given at levels appropriate to humanity's
degree of maturation. In this view each different religion may
have had truth explained differently according to the needs of the
recipients of the teaching.
Texts and scriptures
From the Báb
Writings of the Báb
Days of Remembrance
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf
The Four Valleys
Gems of Divine Mysteries
The Seven Valleys
Summons of the Lord of Hosts
Tabernacle of Unity
Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh
List of writings of Bahá'u'lláh
The Secret of Divine Civilization
Some Answered Questions
Tablets of the Divine Plan
Tablet to Dr. Forel
Tablet to The Hague
Will and Testament
From Shoghi Effendi
Advent of Divine Justice
God Passes By
World Order of Bahá'u'lláh
The following principles are frequently listed as a quick summary of
the Bahá'í teachings. They are derived from transcripts of speeches
`Abdu'l-Bahá during his tour of Europe and North America in
1912. The list is not authoritative and a variety of such lists
Equality of women and men
Bahá'í Faith and gender equality
Bahá'í Faith affirms gender equality; that men and women are
Bahá'u'lláh noted that there was no distinction in the
spiritual stations of men and women.
`Abdu'l-Bahá wrote that both
men and women possess the same potential for virtues and intelligence,
and compared the two genders and the progress of civilization to the
two wings of a bird where each wing is needed to provide flight.
In this sense, the equality of the sexes is seen as Bahá'ís as a
spiritual and moral standard that is essential for the unification of
the planet and the unfoldment of world order, and in the importance of
implementing the principle in individual, family, and community life.
Bahá'í teachings assert the full spiritual and social
equality of women to men, there are some aspects of gender
distinctiveness or gender differentiation in certain areas of
life. Men and women are seen as having different strength and
abilities that enable them to better fill different roles. Thus there
are certain teachings that give preference to men in some limited
circumstances and some that give preference to women. One of these
aspects relate to biological fact of potential motherhood for women,
and thus the Bahá'í teaching that girls should be given priority in
education as they potentially would be the children's first
educator. In terms of Bahá'í administration, all positions
except for membership on the
Universal House of Justice
Universal House of Justice are open to
men and women. No specific reason has been given for this exception,
`Abdu'l-Bahá has stated that there is a wisdom for it, which
would eventually become clear. Regardless rates of women serving
at national levels of governance in the religion exceed those in
general society: in 2010 the world average for female members of
parliaments was 19%, while the world average of women serving on
national assemblies had reached rates of 39%.
Harmony of religion and science
Bahá'í Faith and science
The harmony of science and religion is a central tenet of the Bahá'í
teachings. The principle states that that truth is one, and
therefore true science and true religion must be in harmony, thus
rejecting the view that science and religion are in conflict.
`Abdu'l-Bahá asserted that science without religion leads to
materialism, and religion without science leads to superstition;
he also affirmed that reasoning powers are required to understand the
truths of religion.
`Abdu'l-Bahá condemned civilizations based
solely on materialistic beliefs which he said would bring about moral
Universal compulsory education
Bahá'í Faith and education
The theme of education in the
Bahá'í Faith is given quite prominent
emphasis. Its literature gives a principle of universal, or compulsory
Bahá'í teachings focus on promoting a moral and
spiritual education, in addition to the arts, trades, sciences and
Bahá'u'lláh wrote that the spiritual capacities of each
individual could not be achieved without spiritual education, and thus
children needed to have spiritual/religious education from an early
stage. He also stressed the importance of secular education in that
one's work and vocation is socially important. The Bahá'í teachings
state it is the obligation of the parents to provide for the education
of their children, and that special importance should be given to the
education of girls.
Universal auxiliary language
Bahá'í Faith and auxiliary language
As part of the focus on the unity of humankind, the Bahá'í
teachings see improved communication between peoples throughout the
world as a vital part of world unity and peace. The Bahá'í
teachings see the current multiplicity of languages as a major
impediment to unity, since the existence of so many languages cuts the
free flow of information and makes it difficult for the average
individual to obtain a universal perspective on world events.
Bahá'u'lláh taught that the lack of a common language is a major
barrier to world unity since the lack of communication between peoples
of different languages undermines efforts toward world peace due to
misunderstandings of language; he urged that humanity should choose an
auxiliary language that would be taught in schools in addition to
one's own native language, so that people could understand one
another. He stated that until an auxiliary language is adopted,
complete unity between the various parts of the world would continue
to be unrealized.
Bahá'u'lláh stressed, however, that the auxiliary language should
not suppress existing natural languages, and that the concept of unity
in diversity must be applied to languages. The Bahá'í teachings
state that cultural heterogeneity is compatible with unity, and that
at the present time in the history of humankind, the Bahá'í teaching
of unity requires the embracing of cultural diversity since humanity
is enriched by the various cultures throughout the world. The
Bahá'í teachings state that having an international auxiliary
language would remove the pressure from the natural aggrandizement of
majority language groups and thus preserve minority languages, since
each person would keep their own mother-tongue, and thus minority
Independent investigation of truth
Bahá'u'lláh taught that each human being must acquire knowledge
through their processes, and not blindly believe or follow others
blindly, and he made it a fundamental obligation. He stated that
since Truth is one, that when a person independently investigates they
lead to the same truth and help lead to the oneness of humanity.
Baha'is are forbidden from communicating with
reading their literature. Additionally when Baha'is published material
explaining the religion, the Baha'i administration had practiced
"literature review," a fact decried by some, wherein Bahá'ís
submit their material for vetting before it is published to ensure
credibility from the administration's understanding.
Elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty
The teachings of the
Bahá'í Faith state that it is necessary to
eliminate the extremes of wealth and poverty.
both poverty and extreme wealth disallowed for a compassionate
society, as poverty demoralized people and extreme wealth overburdened
Bahá'u'lláh wrote that rich should take care of the
poor, as the poor are a divine trust. The
Bahá'í teachings state
of multiple ways of addressing the extremes of wealth and poverty
including institutional means, such as Huqúqu'lláh, as well as
creating a sense of mutual concern.
Bahá'í teachings promote the elimination of extremes of
wealth and poverty they do not promote communism and instead
legitimize individual property.
`Abdu'l-Bahá further noted that
wealth by itself was not evil, and could be used for good.
Main article: Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh
Covenant in the
Bahá'í Faith refers to two separate binding
God and man. There is a distinction between a
Greater Covenant which is made between every messenger from
his followers concerning the next dispensation, and a Lesser Covenant
that concerns successorship of authority within the religion after the
The greater covenant refers to the covenant made between each
messenger from God, which the literature of the
Bahá'í Faith name
Manifestations of God, and his followers regarding the coming of the
next Manifestation from God. According to
promised that he will send a succession of messengers that will
instruct humankind. In Bahá'í belief, this covenant is seen to
be expressed in prophecy in the religious scripture of each religion,
and each Manifestation of God, such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus,
Muhammad, the Báb, and Bahá'u'lláh, prophesied the next
Manifestation. In return, the followers of each religion are seen to
have a duty to investigate the claims of the following
The lesser covenant is a covenant that concerns the recognition of the
messenger, acceptance and application of his teachings and laws made
regarding the successorship of authority within the religion. In
Bahá'í belief the manner in which the Covenant of
clearly put forth is seen as being a fundamental defining feature of
the religion and a powerful protector of the unity of the Bahá'í
Faith and its adherents.
Main article: Bahá'í administration
"Bahá'í administration" or "Bahá'í administrative order" is the
administrative system of the religion which directly rests on the
teachings of the religion penned by its central figures - especially
Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá. It is split into two parts, the
elected and the appointed. The supreme governing institution of the
Bahá'í Faith is the Universal House of Justice, situated in Haifa,
Bahá'í administration has four charter scriptural documents,
Tablets of the Divine Plan
Tablet of Carmel
Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá
Key to the function of Bahá'í organization is the principle of
consultation. This refers to the method of non-adversarial discussion
and decision making which is described in the Bahá'í writings, and
which is used in all levels of Bahá'í administration. Consultation
strives to move beyond a decision making process that accepts the
majority view, to one that aims to discover truth through universal
participation and disciplined cooperation.
God is described in the Bahá'í writings a single, personal,
inaccessible, omniscient, omnipresent, imperishable, and almighty God
who is the creator of all things in the universe. The existence of
God and the universe is thought to be eternal, without a beginning or
Bahá'í teachings state that
God is too great for humans
to fully comprehend, or to create a complete and accurate image of, by
themselves. Therefore, human understanding of
God is achieved through
his revelations via his Manifestations. In the Bahá'í
God is often referred to by titles and attributes (e.g. the
All-Powerful, or the All-Loving), and there is a substantial emphasis
on monotheism. The
Bahá'í teachings state that the attributes which
are applied to
God are used to translate Godliness into human terms
and also to help individuals concentrate on their own attributes in
God to develop their potentialities on their spiritual
path. According to the
Bahá'í teachings the human purpose is
to learn to know and love
God through such methods as prayer,
reflection and being of service to humankind.
The Bahá'í writings state that human beings have a "rational soul",
and that this provides the species with a unique capacity to recognize
God's station and humanity's relationship with its creator. Every
human is seen to have a duty to recognize
God through His messengers,
and to conform to their teachings. Through recognition and
obedience, service to humanity and regular prayer and spiritual
practice, the Bahá'í writings state that the soul becomes closer to
God, the spiritual ideal in Bahá'í belief. When a human dies, the
soul passes into the next world, where its spiritual development in
the physical world becomes a basis for judgment and advancement in the
spiritual world. Bahá'ís' believe in the eternal life of the soul
rather than reincarnation. Heaven and Hell are taught to be spiritual
states of nearness or distance from
God that describe relationships in
this world and the next, and not physical places of reward and
punishment achieved after death. See
Bahá'í Faith on life after
Outline of the Bahá'í Faith
Socio-economic development (Bahá'í)
^ a b c Smith 2008, pp. 52–53
^ a b c "Principles of the Bahá'í Faith". bahai.com. March 26, 2006.
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^ a b c d e Hutter 2005, pp. 737–740
^ a b c d e f g h Britannica 1988
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Bahá'u'lláh 1976, p. 346
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^ a b Smith 2000, p. 359
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^ a b c Smith 2000, pp. 306–307
^ a b Smith 2000, pp. 290–91
^ a b Smith 2000, pp. 130–31
^ a b Meyjes 2006, p. 27
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^ a b c Hatcher & Martin 1998, pp. 96–97
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^ Esslemont 1980, p. 164
^ Gandhimohan 2000
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^ a b c Smith 2000, pp. 128–29
^ a b c Smith 2008, pp. 142–43
^ a b c d e f Smith 2000, pp. 267–268
^ Hatcher & Martin 1998, pp. 127–130
^ Smith, Peter (2000). "administration" (PDF). A concise encyclopedia
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Stockman, Robert (2000). "The Baha'i Faith". In Beversluis, Joel.
Sourcebook of the World's Religions. New World Library.
Some Answered Questions
Some Answered Questions (Newly revised ed.).
Haifa, Israel: Bahá'í World Centre.
Bahá'u'lláh (1976). Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh.
Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust.
Effendi, Shoghi (1944).
God Passes By. Wilmette, Illinois, USA:
Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 0-87743-020-9.
Effendi, Shoghi (1938). The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh -
Selected Letters. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust.
Schaefer, Udo (2007). Bahá'í Ethics in Light of Scripture, Volume 1
- Doctrinal Fundamentals. Oxford, UK: George Ronald.
Schaefer, Udo (2009). Bahá'í Ethics in Light of Scripture, Volume 2
- Virtues and Divine Commandments. Oxford, UK: George Ronald.
Bahai.org: What Bahá'ís Believe
Compilations of Bahá'í writings about various subjects
Bahá'í Introductory Information at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh
Hands of the Cause
Unity of humanity
Unity of religion
Harmony of science and religion